Each summer for the past four years, I have asked a group of young dancers where they are with dance. I leave the question open-ended in order for them to answer however it resonates personally. My goal is to create a yearly check-in to chart how these young women grow and mature through dance.
Below are Alexandra’s shifting perspectives over the past four years. I eagerly await what direction her path will lead in the future, and what role dance will play. –Emmaly Wiederholt
2016 – age 20
This past year in dance has been an interesting one. After finishing another great four weeks at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, I started my second year as a BFA dance major at Florida State University. This past year taught me the lesson of not overextending yourself the hard way. I involved myself in too many dance pieces and projects, and my body suffered as a consequence. The 13-hour days plus my 19-hour course load left me exhausted and tired for most of the semester. I loved all the performing, but it had a negative effect on my studio performance. I often found myself tired and unmotivated in the classroom, which is something I had never experienced before. I quickly learned that overextending myself did not push me as a dancer but actually had negative effects on my wellbeing. However, this pushed me to make some hard personal decisions about what I want my future to look like. Even with the hectic schedule and lack of motivation, I came to the realization that performing is my favorite thing and what I want to do as a profession. I have committed myself to doing anything and everything in my power to get there and fulfill my dream of being professional dancer. The time I recently spent studying abroad in Paris helped revitalize my motivation and open my eyes to different ways of moving and understanding dance. I took a variety of contemporary classes that really felt like they suited me and my movement style. This was encouraging—to know there are choreographers out there who I could see myself working with. On top of it all, I saw so many amazing dance performances, including work by Pina Bausch, Hofesh Shechter and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. The choreography and dancers were unlike anything I have seen before and left me speechless every single time. It would be a dream to perform for any of these companies! I will keep this dream in mind as I start my third year at FSU and move back into the studio with a fresh perspective and revitalized motivation.
2015 – age 19
It has been an amazing year of dance as I started my freshman year at Florida State University. I chose this BFA program because I thought it was the best choice for me but I never imagined how much I would love it! My perspective of dance has completely changed as I have been exposed to so many different people with various styles and backgrounds. I love being able to study dance in a university setting. There is so much support for new, innovative choreography. For me personally, my modern skills have greatly improved as I took different modern and contemporary classes four times a week.
To continue the growth I experienced during the school year, I have chosen to come back to the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance for session three. The Conservatory was very transformative in my dance career two years ago and I cannot wait to see where it takes me this year!
2014 – age 18
This past year has been quite the journey as I prepare for the next step in my dancing career. I have been everywhere from Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma auditioning for college dance programs and sent in DVD auditions to even more universities. I received multiple letters of rejection that made me question the path I was taking. It wasn’t until I auditioned at Florida State University when I truly knew I was making the right decision. Their program was exactly what I was looking for as it focuses on multiple disciplines and allows for choreographic development of their students. The university was also beautiful and exactly what I was looking for in the traditional college experience. This fall I will be attending Florida State University and pursuing a BFA in dance. I also plan to double major in marketing. I am not going to any intensives this summer but plan on working on my technique at my local studio before leaving in the fall.
2013 – age 17
Currently I am in a pre-professional dance company outside of Houston called Kingwood Dance Theatre. I am preparing to start applying for colleges and audition for dance programs. I feel that this past year I have experience significant growth in my dancing, especially in my upper body. Attending the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance summer program has pushed my dancing to another level and given me an even larger opportunity for growth! I feel this growth and maturity will help guide me in the right direction in choosing the college dance program that is best for me. I still have so far to go before I am ready for the professional dance world but I hope the steps I am taking right now lead me in that direction. I’m not going to lie — I ask myself everyday if I am good enough to get into any college dance programs, but I will work hard for these next couple months and see where life takes me.