Our “10 Questions With…” feature is back! Dancer/teacher/writer Roger Lee got in touch with Christina Pastras from The Rock School for Dance Education and sent us this lovely interview to run on the site…enjoy!
1. How did you get involved with dance?
My mom put me in dance because I had too much energy and not the right outlet to express it. I could not sit still and was always moving. I was a bit of a troublemaker! Once I began dance classes, even at an early age, my parents could not get me out of the dance studio. I instantly fell in love with dance and it became my world. I begged for a ballet barre and mirror for my play room. I could be found dancing in every picture and video from events in my life.
- What are you currently doing in the dance field?
I had a wonderful career dancing worldwide as a professional ballerina. I had a chance to perform roles in amazing ballets including Swan Lake, Gisele, Les Sylphide, Coppelia, Don Quioxte, and Jewels. I unfortunately ended my ballet career with an injury. I thought my world had ended but I quickly found a new passion through teaching. I was fortunate to become a faculty member at The Rock School for Dance Education. I found love, support, and teacher and choreographer mentoring through The Rock School’s Directors Bo and Stephanie Spassoff and Ballet Mistresses Jennifer Wheat and Gina Grace.
After several years on faculty, I additionally began teaching in and later managing The Rock School’s outreach program, RockReach. My passion was reignited! RockReach’s a mission is to bring dance to as many undeserved youth in and around the Philadelphia area. Since becoming manager, we have grown tremendously over the past two and a half years. Through the support of the Directors, the growing need for arts and physical education in the school district, and the amazing dedication of Sue Rock, we are reaching close to 18,000 school children a year through our various programs. We also hold residencies in 19 schools. The program would not have the success it does today without the wonderful RockReach faculty and the support of The Rock School and communities we serve.
- What are your favorite things about dance?
Dance has been in my life longer than anything. It is the air I breathe. I love that dance can brighten my day. I can be having the worst day and once I walk into the ballet studio, my world shifts. I leave my feelings at the door or I take them out on the floor. Everything becomes clearer and sharper as I take my first breath and step into B+ or first position. The love I receive from my students is also very inspiring. Their hard work and dedication gives me strength and elation. It is very similar to the feelings I have as a mother. My kids are my world. They are the light that guides me. They inspire me to be the best dancer, teacher, and choreographer that I can be. I also love that in dance we never ever stop learning, growing, and striving to be our very best. We do this for ourselves–and the people in our lives.
- What was the proudest moment of your career (to date)?
I am proud of my students’ individual triumphs such as mastering a combination, nailing a performance, getting into a company, or landing a dance job. I am also extremely proud of how RockReach has evolved so drastically.
- What has been the hardest or most challenging aspect of your career? [Read more…]