Today we have another “student spotlight” to share with you. Meet Steffi Acain from Nuevo School of Contemporary Dance….
1. Can you tell readers how you became involved with dance?
When I was four years old my parents thought I was very shy and awkward around people my own age because I was an only child. So to remedy my lack of social skills, they enrolled me into my first dance class at The Dance Spot. My parents thought it would just be something fun for me to do after school. But after those first initial years, I think they started to take notice that I actually held promise and passion for dance. I then started competing at dance competitions, performing at recitals, attending various intensives, and taking classes at other studios in order to expand my dance vocabulary.
Currently, I am eighteen years old and a member of the Nuevo School of Contemporary Dance. I train about four to five hours a day, five days a week, in styles ranging from ballet and jazz to contemporary and hip hop. After having dance in my life for so long, my love and appreciation for the art form has grown every single day. And if it were up to me to judge, I would say that I’m not as socially awkward as I used to be.
2. What do you find you like best about dance class?
For me, I think just having that opportunity to take class so that I can learn and grow more as a dancer is my favorite aspect. One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned from dance is that you get what you put into it. Taking class can be nothing but help to a dancer because it is one of those rare times when mistakes are forgivable and expected. This is the time when you can experiment with what works on your body and truly explore who you are & can be as a dancer. Class can only be what you make of it. So although it is important to be physically present, you will only truly benefit if you are mentally and emotionally invested as well.
Taking class is such an amazing experience because that is when I not only get to enjoy dancing myself, but also watching my friends dance and learning from them. Seeing different people interpret the same music and choreography in their own way is very eye opening since it shows the universal language of dance. The classroom experience is so real because you can’t hide behind make-up, costumes, or stage lights. It’s simply just dance at its most authentic state.
3. What is the hardest part about dance for you?
Personally, the hardest part is staying motivated and focused. Being in high school, especially as a senior, there have been so many times when I have let my mind wander off because I was worried about where I was going to be next year and what I was going to be doing. I would especially get even more anxious when trying to figure out how dance was going to fall into the equation. However, when I stopped thinking about problems that I could not fix at the moment and started focusing on what I was doing right then and there, that is when I got the most out of the class. Fortunately, I have an outlet like dance that allows me to temporarily forget about my problems and express how I am feeling through movement.
4. What advice would you give to other dancers?
My advice to dancers would be to always have faith in yourself. As dancers, we are constantly being compared and ranked against one another. It’s then that we begin to feel self-conscious of our looks and even question our own abilities. But despite what a judge at a local competition or a random bystander may think, it’s always important to have confidence in yourself and what you do. Their opinion is just one out of many people watching. It’s only natural that we are drawn to specific dancers more than others. By letting a couple of negative comments affect how you perceive yourself, you are not only doing an injustice to yourself but also to the many hours you have worked and trained to get to where you are.
Basically, just remember to believe in yourself. Even if you may not have the best technique or you’re not as skinny as the dancer standing next to you, I think everyone is drawn to a performer who possesses confidence. Before you expect people to believe that you are good, you have to believe that you are good enough and worth their attention. Although it is easier said than done, I think believing in yourself -both onstage and off- is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself.
5. How has dance changed your life?
Dance has been such a positive influence on my life. I definitely would not be the same person without it nor can I imagine my life without dance. Aside from growing as a dancer in the studio, dance has helped me grow as a person in the real world. From dance, I’ve learned what hard work, dedication, and perseverance can bring. The work ethic that has been instilled in me at the studio has also helped me succeed in school and other activities. Most importantly, the friends and relationships that I have made through dance are ones that I will carry even after the stage lights go down. My entire dance experience thus far will forever have a lasting impression on me.