Highlighting the lives of Urban Student Dancers

Emma Draisin, Staff Writer

The following is a series of interviews I conducted with student dancers at Urban. These girls all show ambition, appreciation, and dedication to their dance. Because there is no official dance program at Urban, these dancers receive little school-wide attention. These profiles are meant to bring their stories of commitment and love for dance to light.

Maggie Krassner:

Ballet, Contemporary

How has dancing influenced you?

I have class and rehearsals every day and on the weekends, so it’s definitely made me very disciplined … I very rarely procrastinate because I know I’m not going to have time to get it done otherwise, so I think it’s definitely made me very organized, and good about school.

What feeds your passion for dance?

I definitely think that the music feeds my passion. I love listening to classical music and I go to the ballet all the time with my parents and go see professional companies. I think the most exciting thing for me when I dance is being able to portray my emotions through the music.

What do you not like about dancing?

Sometimes, when I have a lot of rehearsals, it’s pretty frustrating because I can’t hang out with my friends, or I can’t do some things … I’m friends with all the girls in my class but dance, and especially ballet, is definitely a very competitive setting to be in … there’s no team; you are not all working together to do something, it’s more individual and it’s beautiful when you see a ton of dancers all dancing together at the same time, but it’s not necessarily a group effort – you have to pay attention yourself, and when everybody’s paying attention it comes together and is something great.

What are your plans for dance in the future?

I love dance, so much, but I think in order to go professional it’s kind of necessary that you either a) don’t go to college or b) go to college later … I don’t really know currently if that’s something I’m willing to give up …  I think I would never go professional or that type of thing because I have other interests that I love at school… I don’t know if I could entirely devote myself to becoming a professional at the age of 18, the second I get out of high school.

Julia Van Riel:

Ballet, Some Contemporary

What is your experience with balancing dance and school?

It’s kind of rough sometimes, especially show season, things get kind of crazy, and I’m kind of worried about next year and the year after because there’s a potential … that I’d be leaving early from a lot of my classes, but so far, it’s been alright to manage. I find that it makes me a lot more efficient, and I know that I only have a certain amount of time to do my work because of dance, and if I don’t have dance I never get anything done.

Who is a role model of yours for dancing? (a teacher, or a person who has inspired you a lot)

My teacher has inspired me a lot. Her name is Galina and she was a dancer. She’s Russian. We have a lot of success stories from my studio of people who went to The Royal Ballet and are now really famous, and I think just knowing that there are people like that from where I’m studying now is pretty inspiring.

What are your plans for dance in the future?

I’m going to do auditions for dance companies and if I get in, then great, and I can put off college for six years while I dance, and I also know that there are some programs at certain companies where you can study while being at the company so I’m hoping I can get something like that to work.

Lily Daniel:

Modern/Contemporary, previously taiko drumming, ballet, hip hop

Why do you dance?

I think I dance for myself, because it makes me feel happy and healthy, because it’s doing something that I love after school, and I think that when I don’t dance, I feel … like I’m missing something from my life … It’s a really special place for me. When I’m there, I feel really strong and powerful and that’s a pretty cool feeling.

How do you want to be seen as a dancer at Urban?

It stinks that Urban has no dance program, and I know a lot of people who are coming next year from my old school who are dancers, and I was like, “we need to get on this, we need to start something, because at a school like Urban, that has a lot of dancers… [having it] just happen during E periods, that’s such a good time for that, and I think it would be really cool because I go to the Lick dance shows, because they have an amazing dance program, and I have a lot of friends who are in them, and they’re so much fun. The whole school comes out and I think it would be really fun to have at Urban.

Who is a role model of yours for dancing? (a teacher, someone who’s influenced you?)

My dance teacher, Leila, has inspired me. When you are around her you feel really important, and she’s a really amazing person and she really is there for use, whether it’s social stuff or dance stuff or school stuff, if you need someone to talk to, you just go in her office and talk to her, and she is really special.

What are your plans for dance in the future?

I know I don’t want to be a professional dancer. I think I’m going to keep doing it through high school.

Meika McCready:

Hip Hop, previously ballet and contemporary

What inspires your dancing?

Well, I have a really great crew, I’m in the ODC dance crew. We are working on a piece about ecofeminism, and it’s really great to dance for a cause, and to have something driving everyone. My crew is really supportive of each other. We always have each other’s backs, and it’s a really great community to be around while I’m dancing.

What is your experience with balancing dance and school?

I don’t have dance every single day. I don’t have it interfering with homework that much. [Dance] relieves the stress I have, and a lot of that is school stress. Not having that stress on me, and that anxiety, while I’m doing something that I love helps me get through the week.

What are your plans for dance in the future?

I definitely want to keep dancing, forever, but not as a job, or a huge thing but I want to keep going to classes, and it’s kind of meditative.

Eleanor James:

Ballet, Modern, Hip-hop (occasionally Bollywood, Afro-Brazilian, Pan African)

How has dancing influenced you as a person?

It has made me more confident, responsible, and resilient. It has also shown me how to be critical of myself and grow without getting myself down.

How do you want to be seen as a dancer at Urban?

I just want people to appreciate and recognize that I work as hard as an athlete does, but while also incorporating artistry into my daily practice … People know that I am a dancer, but they often forget that I dance as often and as hard as I do. It isn’t easy, and it would be cool if people respected my dancing as much as they would someone who plays a sport.

How does dance affect your free time?

I’ve never really been able to hang out with people after school … Freshman and sophomore year, I got ready for prom at the theater and my ballet teacher did my hair because I had a performance that day. It’s tough, but I have made some of my best friends through dance. It isn’t like I don’t have a social life, I just may not have as much time for it as other people do.

What are your plans for dance in the future?

I just want to do it for the rest of my life! No big or concrete plans.
Interviews have been condensed.