I started dancing at age 5. I remember at my first dance recital there was a girl, who I’m guessing was around 14 at the time, did a whole dance sitting down because she had a broken leg. And back then, I was really into medical things (still am fourteen years later) so of course, that dance became my favorite. I ended up learning by watching a recording of it over and over again and performing it for people who came to visit us. This dancer, Hannah, continued to be an inspiration of mine until she graduated HS and left the studio. She is now a choreographer at a dance company in a nearby town and her choreography is unbelievable. Check it out for yourself here.
When I was around 10 there was this dancer named Kelsie, that I really admired. She was extremely talented at dancing, especially ballet and contemporary. I absolutely loved watching her dance and before a recital one day, I got enough confidence to go ask if I could stretch with her, which she said yes too. She graduated HS the year I graduated 8th grade but I never forgot how much she inspired me as a dancer. When she came back to our home studio to teach, I was ecstatic to be taking classes with her. And it made all my 10 year old girl dreams come true when she agreed to choreograph a dance for me for the 2015 competition season. I knew this dance would be amazing because it was a mix of contemporary and ballet, two things Kelsie is amazing at. This dance ended up winning first overall at four national dance competitions that season. You can see the dance for yourself here.
As for professional dancers, Clara Blanco was one main inspiration during my freshman year of high school. I saw her perform with the San Francisco Ballet when they came to my hometown one day. It was pure luck that I got tickets the same day as the show but it was one of the best days of my life. I still remember being in awe of Clara’s technique, artistry etc during the dance “After the Rain” choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a professional ballerina…or get as close to being a professional as I could.
Another professional dancer I’ve always loved is Marianela Nunez. I saw a clip of her dancing Odile in Swan Lake with the Royal Ballet when I was in 10th grade and immediately taught myself the whole dance to perform during the “Sing or Dance” unit of my Drama II class. While it definitely wasn’t as perfect as Nela’s version, it was pretty darn close. I almost passed out from excitement when she accepted my FB friend request. And the other awesome thing is that we have two “twinning” dance images that happened entirely coincidentally.
Of course, you all know how much my friend Kathryn Morgan has inspired me. With all of my health issues it’s hard to find the motivation to stretch, to workout etc when all I want to do is sleep for a hundred years. Kathryn has been my main source of motivation during those days. If she could make it out through a health crisis and still be the humble, caring, and strong person she is, I know I can do it too. I’ve interviewed her twice on my blog and I love being one of the admins of her Ballet Community group. It’s really nice getting the chance to know Kathryn as a friend and not just one of my dance idols that I’ll never be able to speak to or meet.
Now that I am dancing recreationally, my source of inspiration are all my past experiences with pain, joy, hope, loss etc. I draw on these feelings to create amazing works of art such as the dance I recently choreographed about the suicidal episode I went through in July. Click here to watch.
I do not try to dance like anyone else nor do I try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than the dancer I was yesterday. I want to be the best dancer I can be and that, to me, means continuously trying to outdo myself in dance class and to know that it’s okay to have bad days and setbacks. A bad setback (aka my ankle problems) are only setting me up for an even bigger comeback!
I was happy...at the ballet.
It wasn't paradise...but it was home.
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