Hey there, dance enthusiasts! Since talkingdance365 is my first blog experience, I’m getting some help from WordPress through the Blogging101 class! I’m very excited to use this class as a tool to gain knowledge in this avenue and continue to give you exciting, fun dance posts! This entry got me so inspired… it took me two days to write! Enjoy!
My first assignment is… Who I am and why I’m here! Now, I could give you a list of all my credentials and who I’ve danced for and worked with, but I’m going to try this differently. If you wouldn’t mind taking the time, I would like to share my story with you…
Let’s go back to where it all began… I wanted to be an ice princess. As a young girl, my mom and I watched ice skating every winter- she saw how much interest I had in it and took me to take classes. I loved the movement of ice skating, but there was one problem: I hated the cold! I began to dread going to the ice rink because I seemed to be the only kid out there completely bundled up and shivering nonstop. At this point, my mom thought it might be best to just stick to soccer, but I missed the expressive feeling of movement and longed for another creative outlet. My friend and I started learning all the dance moves from famous pop stars, like Spice Girls, *Nsync, and Backstreet Boys. We would put on lip-sync dance shows for our friends and family every opportunity we could. It was then that I realized, I didn’t just want to be a performer… I had to perform.
In Junior High, I discovered the school’s Swing Ensemble, which was a group of kids who put together dances and performed them at school functions. The first few months, I learned the older kids dances, but then it dawned on me… hey, I can do that- I want to choreograph for the group. So I did my first choreography to Shakira’s Obsession (Tango); we will note the irony in this later on in the story. From there, I was dancing, choreographing, and performing at every possible chance.
In High School, I was thrilled to find even more ways to fuel this creative need to express myself. Not only did I join the school’s Orchesis Dance Ensemble, where I performed and choreographed, but I also found a love for drama, painting, and creative writing. I was in several dance concerts, musicals, plays, and art and writing exhibits. If you looked up “fine arts kid,” my picture would’ve been right there next to it (Standing in first position, of course).
The time came to start applying for colleges, and I knew I would want to at least minor in Dance at a great school. I ended up choosing Northeastern Illinois University, planning to do a couple years there and then transfer over to a “bigger” name school (how little I knew back then). I planned on majoring in Business: Advertisement with a minor in Dance. I took my first Intro to Dance 101, where I met the first woman who started to guide and shape my college dance journey, Rachel. We connected instantly, and she advised me to join the school’s Repertory Ensemble Performing Class, along with her Ballet Class. Rep class is where I met the dance director, Venetia, and another soon-to-be mentor, Jamie. Venetia welcomed me warmly, and quickly made sure I was dancing in the group number. Jamie encouraged me to join her Jazz class, which I did and ended up never leaving in all my four years. I fell in love with this department and all the people in it. My classmates were wonderful, the teachers were inspiring, and there was just so much to learn! Before I knew it, I was signed up for more dance classes than I would ever need for a minor, and I was losing interest in anything else. I was obsessed. I would be in the studio, before and after classes, practicing my dances and dreaming up new choreography. I would go to the library and check out all the books on dance and just start my own studying explorations. I became extremely close with my classmates, and even started my own Contemporary Dance Club (CDC)- the very first ever at NEIU. About halfway through, I realized with all the dancing I was doing, I needed to major in Dance so that I could focus on it 100%. NEIU didn’t have a Dance major program, but I knew what I wanted, so of course, I found a way to create my own major through a program called University Without Walls. This program allowed me to study through not only NEIU classes, but also other studios and companies in Chicago.
I could spend another ten blogs telling you all about my college experiences with dance! In a nutshell, I performed, choreographed, auditioned… you name it! I met my dear friend, Heather, who was putting on a dance concert to benefit the Invisible Children foundation; this group of dancers went on to became Reveries In Motion dance company, where I am currently still an associate director and choreographer. Heather also now owns Momentum Performing Arts Academy, where I have the privilege of teaching Monday nights.
After college, I was sure I wanted to keep dancing and teaching; I had already been teaching at a few studios and park districts in Chicago, but I needed something more stable that would have career opportunities. A friend of mine suggested I interview at a ballroom dance studio she was working at. I thought to myself Naaaah… I’m a contemporary dancer- I don’t think ballroom is for me. I mean, I did take some ballroom classes throughout college, and I liked it, but I just didn’t see myself being excelled enough in that particular style. Somehow, my friend convinced me to at least try it. I was wrong. I loved it! This studio gave me a place where I could meet new people and dance all day! I also got benefits and opportunities to make it a real career. Four years later, I am still working at this studio as an instructor and Guest Director. In these four years, I also found an amazing dance partner who is now my fiancé! Can you believe it? Not only do I get to do what I love every single day, but I get to do it with someone I love! I know, now I’m just bragging… but I am truly blessed and so grateful for everyone in my journey who has played a role to making my dreams come true.
The best part is… my journey isn’t over. I’m still learning and experiencing new things every single day; and that’s where you come in. I’d like to share these experiences with other dancers, performers, teachers, dance parents… anyone who has an interest in the world of dance! In the next 357 days (yes, I’m counting!), I’m going to share with you as much of what I’ve learned, and continue to learn, in my years of dancing, performing, and teaching.
I hope you enjoy it and I hope it inspires you to move!