How did you hear about Dancers of New York?
I first saw it when Shauna Sorenson was posted. She was one of the first dancers. I didn’t realize that it was a part of this whole project. I didn’t realize that it was something that I could be featured on either. And then I saw Bekah Howard--I danced with her in Sheila’s showcase piece, and when I saw that she was on it, I was like, “Wait a minute. How can I get on this?” I actually reached out to you twice through the contact page and even messaged Alicia because I was that eager. When you emailed me back, I was pretty excited.
I really like the idea of this blog because it gives dancers that aren’t always in the spotlight a chance to share their story. Even though I am not dancing professionally or anything compared to the dancers that you’ve already featured, I think everyone’s passion should be appreciated.
How did you start dancing?
I think I started when I was three in a ballet class. But that didn’t really stick with me. I had moved after that, and my mom wanted to put me in soccer, softball--kind of the normal childhood--and then I started dancing again when I was nine. I guess it just took time to find a new studio, but I’ve been dancing consistently since then. I joined my studio’s company when I was in sixth grade, so around twelve, and then I switched studios my sophomore year of high school, which I always think is a turning point in how passionate I became about dance. It takes a lot to leave your friends and the second family you created--I mean I didn’t go that far, but that was my comfort zone. I was never the type of dancer to go out of my comfort zone and take risks like that. That was a big deal for a while. But it just made me work harder. I think I was pushed a lot more at my new studio. It was a lot more competition-y, and nothing’s wrong with that, of course. But I realized how passionate I was about dance and that I had a much stronger work ethic than I thought I did.
What happened after that?
When I applied to colleges, I knew I wanted to apply to schools that either had a dance program or were in the city. Fordham was my number one all along, but never for the dance program, because I was realistic with myself. I didn’t want to jeopardize my chances of getting into the school by applying to their dance program. But I knew that I could take class with the Ailey program just for a few credits if I wanted to. I knew that I could always commute to Manhattan - because I go to the Bronx campus. I knew that I could do that any time. I actually commuted my first semester, which was really difficult because socializing was hard, forgetting about high school was difficult, and I really missed dance. I was originally just going to go back to my old studio and take classes, and it helped for a little bit, but it wasn’t me anymore. It was hard to be a part of something that I wasn’t fully a part of. I was going to class, but I couldn’t be in the company pieces. It’s funny because it was through this blog post on Dance Spirit’s website that I read about a class at BDC. They were fundraising for something. I don’t know why this time, but I decided that I was going to go in and do it. That was my first class. I took the bus in, which luckily I live really close to the city, so that’s not a problem. I’ve been just taking class at BDC ever since.
I started taking class consistently with Tracie Stanfield and Sheila Barker and more recently Beth Goheen. The fact that I’ve become a regular in their classes is actually really rewarding for me. When they each remembered my name and would give me corrections, it was a small accomplishment. Because it meant that they had seen something in me, that I had potential. It’s nice that I’m setting an example for when new students come into class. But I’m really thankful to those teachers for continuing to care about my improvements as a dancer. After two years, I’ve met some of the students there so I feel comfortable walking into BDC and knowing people that I’m taking class with now. Through meeting more people, I’ve also started helping out at shows, which is fun because it’s another way of being connected to the community.
What are you up to now?
I am an intern at Dance Spirit, and it’s been really awesome so far. Last year I had an internship at Rent the Runway as a PR intern. It wasn’t really what I wanted to do, but I just got experience. Last semester I was at Seventeen Magazine, which I thought was my dream, but it’s a much bigger company. There were three other interns with me, and the work wasn’t as hands-on. I never got to write and didn’t really have a chance to learn what made a good article and things like that. I have writing experience aside from that internship, but it fell short of my expectations.
I wasn’t going to do an internship this summer because a lot of them are unpaid. I applied to Dance Spirit because it was only a two-day minimum requirement. That was perfect. It was always my dream. I applied to Dance Spirit last year before I even applied to Seventeen, but they just never got back to me. Their process was actually a lot more difficult than Seventeen’s. I sent in a resume, a cover letter, and two writing samples. I had a phone interview with an editor and then went in for an in-person interview with one of the editors. The last part was three blog assignments. It wasn’t a fully-detailed blog, but they just wanted to see if my voice fit their tone. After that, I found out that I got it. Originally, it was unpaid, but I thought it would be worth it. But on my first day, they told me that they had decided to make it a paid position. So that makes it even better.
It’s awesome because I get to sit in on their meetings and they really listen to what I have to say. They let me write for their website. I have one article up so far and another one is going to be posted on Sunday.
One of the articles I wrote about was a nonprofit performance group called Humans Collective because I knew the director of the group. I’m in a position where I can help people get their name out and let the public read about some great stories, and I think that’s important. The dance community is so small and doesn’t get enough recognition as it is, so why not put in a good word if I can?
I also got to go to SWAY: A Dance Trilogy; and it was a ballroom show with some of the Dancing with the Stars cast, and I got to go as a press member. I got to interview some stars afterwards. It’s already better than my past internships.
Who did you get to meet?
I got to meet Maks, Val, and Tony. That was pretty exciting for me. I used to watch Dancing with the Stars a lot more consistently. I’ve always been a fan of them. I tried not to be too starstruck. It was exciting. Some people have mixed feelings about them, but I love them. I got to have a phone interview with Kenny Wormald, so that was kinda cool. And I think I get to go to the Dance Awards, and Nuvo Competition and Pulse in NY, NJ areas.
So, has journalism always been a passion of yours?
Yeah, I always relate it back to my love for reading magazines. I just wondered what went on behind the scenes--like how did they put this together. It was something that I liked, and I always had a diary when I was younger, so I always liked to write myself. Because there was something like Dance Spirit that existed, I just thought I’d combine my two passions. This way I am never losing dance. That was ideal for me. And then after not getting the internship last year, I think journalism kinda took over. I thought more about my career. My internship last summer was five days a week and it left very little time to go to dance, and that was a huge bummer. This year, the time commitment is a lot less, and just the fact that I am around dance makes me happier. Now that I am around it a lot, it has made me regret not going to college for it. Because I think I really could’ve used that time to train and improve. I obviously had the potential, because I improved so much when I was in high school those last couple of years.
Are you still deciding?
My somewhat loose plan is to finish out school, stick with my major-- I wouldn’t transfer or anything. Obviously still take class, hopefully more consistently. Because it does get difficult during the school year, especially being in the Bronx and not right in Manhattan. If I still feel this way--I don’t want to live a life of regrets--I really don’t want to wonder “what if I went for it?” I am realizing, now that I am somewhat in the dance community, that there are so many more opportunities than you think of when you’re in high school and you just see those big names happening, but you don’t know about the smaller companies putting up smaller performances. If I still feel this way, I might take a gap year when I graduate and pursue dance and see where it takes me.
It’s much easier to write on the side than dance on the side. I am currently a contributing writer for magazine in Bergen County, and you can do a phone interview easily and write the article in a week. You never have to go into the office. It makes me wonder if I should have done it the other way around. But that’s my plan for after graduation. If not, there’s a company called Dance Works in Astoria that’s meant for people who want to keep dance in their life, but not professionally. And I’ve made it my goal to do that for at least one season, whether it’s while I’m in college or not.
What’s your favorite part about the city?
I think the city resembles how I became independent-- from high school to college. Even though I still don’t live in the city. I had never taken the bus by myself before I came into the city for dance. I never took a dance class by myself aside from my studio. Taking the subway and what not, I learned to use Hopstop and now I am telling my older cousins how to get around and everything. People have said this before, but it’s just the fact that everybody has their own story. Everybody is driven. It makes you be driven as well. And really you never know what’s going to happen. There’s been a couple of celebrity spottings that have been pretty exciting for me and just the casual walk down a different street means you can stumble upon a different restaurant or a different clothing store. I mean, the city does have a lot to offer. It’s not for everyone, but I’m glad I adjusted pretty nicely.
What’s your least favorite part about the city?
I think there are a lot of things that are going to get annoying. But one of them that’s especially frustrating is catcalling or anything that resembles that. It’s not just in New York, but I feel like I am always on my guard. My mom will be like, “You’re wearing those shorts on the bus, into the city?” I’m like, “I am just walking three blocks to BDC, I should be able to.” I am just wearing gym shorts.
What’s your advice for dancers?
Be thankful for what you have. That goes for anything. That’s not just dance. There are a lot of dancers that I’ve danced with that would complain about their legs or their flexibility or the fact that they’re not great at acrobatics. But in reality, they are much better than me. I would kill for any type of flexibility because I don’t really have that. I know that’s not everything. Granted, I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I am picky about how I am as a dancer, but I also can sometimes sit back and be like, “Well, I’ve achieved this.” I was in the BDC showcase, and Sheila Barker asked me to do her piece. That was an accomplishment for me. I have those moments where I am like, “I did pretty good,” because I never expected that to happen, or I’m a great performer or other things that some dancers don’t have. But would still kill for those other things. It sucks when you see other people that have that and don’t appreciate it or choose not to pursue it.
Is there anything you want to share with the world?
I’m going to Italy in the fall to study abroad, and I plan to take dance classes while I’m there. It might be a little ambitious, but I know that if I come back after four months of not dancing, I’ll just be more upset with myself. I didn’t want dance to be the one thing that stopped me from going abroad. Even though it’s super important to me, I know that it’s a unique opportunity and will be really good for me to once again, go out of my comfort zone. I already have a list of studios in Florence that I can go to. Even if it’s not what I’m used to, ballet is universal. And I’ve also always wanted to try ballroom dancing. I think in some ways it’s underrated, so maybe Italy will be my chance to try it. I’m going in with the attitude that you never know what could happen and you can find opportunities when you least expect it.