How did you start dancing?
When I was younger, my mom met a dance teacher at a store, and the teacher saw that I liked to dance around a lot. She asked if I wanted to take a class, so I started and took my first ballet class. They said to my mom afterwards that I was a natural and knew what I was doing. She wanted me to start taking more jazz, tap, and all different kinds of classes. I started getting into their rec program, and eventually I took two or three years of rec and got into company right when I was getting out of elementary school.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Mansfield, NJ. I continued to dance in Flemington, NJ before I moved to Georgia.
How was the move from New Jersey to Georgia?
At first I thought it was going to be really terrible because I loved being in Jersey with my friends and my family. But I found a dance studio, Dance Arts Centre, in Georgia the second week I moved there. Jeff and Jamie, the studio directors, were very welcoming. I met a bunch of people, and I got a brand new experience. A lot different from what I was doing in New Jersey. It opened my eyes to a lot of different things.
I wasn’t very technically strong as I should have been. When I came to Georgia, I took way more classes and did different things outside of the studio like going to conventions. I learned from guest teachers all the time and from master classes as well. It was much more experience than I had in New Jersey.
What brings you to New York City?
I am at New York City Dance Alliance at their nationals. I did a college scholarship audition. I am taking workshop classes all weekend. All different types of dance--ballet, tap, hip-hop, and everything. We get to meet different choreographers from all around the world and stuff. People from the Netherlands, Russia, a bunch of different places. It’s an all day thing, and I get to take extra classes for free, so I am really excited.
I’ve been coming to NYCDA for the past four years. It’s awesome. It has taught me a lot of things that I never thought I was capable of doing. It has helped me grow as a dancer.
My favorite part about NYCDA is the people that I’ve met. I went to a two week summer camp last summer, and I still talk to the people that I met there once or twice a week because of the way they impacted my life in those two weeks--just being with them every minute of every day, learning things from them, and being able to be myself around my fellow dancers.
What are you up to now?
I’ve been pretty busy lately. Back in Georgia, we had three weeks of boot camp, getting ready for nationals. I am just trying to prepare myself. It’s actually a week away. Otherwise, I am just trying to sign up for classes and do extra things for myself. I am also trying to sign up for college auditions since I’ll be applying in the fall. I am starting all that so that I’ll be prepared.
How did you know that you wanted to pursue dance professionally?
At first, I was unsure since I did soccer as well. I thought maybe I was better at soccer than dance. I didn’t really realize that I wanted to dance until I moved to Georgia. What people said to me when I danced--they said that the way I danced came from the heart and didn’t look forced. They also said I was a natural. It really gave me motivation to try new things and work harder. Dance is a natural thing for me now, and I really love doing it, so I want to continue to grow as a dancer.
What colleges are you looking into?
The ones I have in my mind are University of Arizona, PACE University, Marymount, Point Park, and FSU. I found out about these programs mostly through people I dance with. Skyler, one of my friends from the studio, is going to University of Arizona, and couple of girls looked at FSU a couple of years ago. Until I went to NYCDA last summer, I had no idea PACE was even a school. But I took classes at PACE, so I got a feel of what the school was like. Jeff and Jamie also mentioned Marymount and Point Park to me and said that I would fit in there really well. I just looked up information online and watched videos to see if I would really like it. Now I am starting to look into it a little more.
Tell me about people that really impacted your dancing.
There was my teacher in New Jersey. She came to our studio the year before I moved. She changed the way I danced. It was the first year I ever did lyrical. She made me realize just doing jazz and tap isn’t all that I had in me. Now lyrical and contemporary are my two favorites. When I came down to Georgia, Jeff and Jamie obviously changed the way I dance. I’ve improved so much from 7th grade to being a senior in high school. My parents and my family have encouraged me as well along the way. Those people in the past four years have helped me out a lot.
What’s your favorite part about dance?
It’s being able to express myself. When I dance around my friends at the studio, I know that I am not being judged. I can express my emotions, tell a story, and do what I want. I love trying new things and learning from the people around me. And just the freedom to move around that dancers have.
Where do you see yourself going as a dancer?
When I was little, I always thought Broadway would be my number one thing. Now I don’t see it as much. Once I get out of college or get a job while in college, I would either like to be a part of a company, something like a contemporary company, or eventually opening up my own studio. I’ve always wanted to choreograph my own thing. Something along those lines would be really cool to do in the future.
What’s the toughest time you’ve had as a dancer?
Last year, my body was changing a lot growing up, and it was tough trying to adjust to my body. I think I got very insecure about the way I looked and started comparing myself to other people that I danced with. I shut myself down because I didn’t think that I was good enough for other people that I danced for or danced with. It took all of last year to adjust to that, and this year I took a more positive outlook on things. I tried to change the way I thought about the way that I looked and tried my best to improve on what happened last year.
I’ve heard from many people that I’ve taken classes with or teachers that you’re never going to be someone else that you dance alongside with. I’ve taken that into every single class that I take or dance that I do. Eventually I have to accept the way that I look or the way I dance--it’s the way I will look the rest of my life, so I have to be positive about that and realize that if I love doing it, it doesn’t matter what I look like.
What’s your favorite part about the city?
We could talk about the food. My favorite thing about New York is Dirty Water Dog Stands at every corner. I love Dirty Water Dogs. It’s amazing. I also like Times Square a lot. It’s so pretty there.
What’s your least favorite?
Those people that try to hand things to you at every single corner. I don’t want to take your things. I am good [laughs].
Or people who ask if you want to go on bike tours.
Or the bus tour. That’s not fun at all.
Is there anything you want to share with the world?
I don’t know. I think I am good [laughs].