Still Pointe has a number of students who have taken advantage of these summer months to step-up their training. Summer is the perfect time to solidify and improve technique. Below you will find an interview with one of our ASPIRE dancers, Allison B. Currently, Allison is at the Rock School in Philadelphia for a second year in a row. Congratulations to all our dancers who have dug deep this summer both in our studio and at pre-professional schools where dancers soak up the excellent training offered by sought after professionals.
Still Pointe Studios Blog:
SP: How long have you danced/how do you envision dance fitting into your future?
God has blessed me with a gift and passion for dance. I have been dancing for 12 years, (my mom would say I’ve always had happy feet), and do not plan on stopping anytime soon. I strive to be a professional ballerina one day who dances for the Lord. The ballet world is my mission field and I strive to make Him known through dance.
SP: Last summer you went out of town to a ballet summer intensive. Where did you go and how long was the program?
Last summer, by God’s grace and provision, I was able to go to the Rock School’s five week summer intensive in Philadelphia, PA.
SP: What were some of the goals you set for yourself as you prepared mentally for the intensive?
· Stronger relationship with God
· Be a light to those around me
· Don’t compare myself to others, but be confident in the gifts the Lord has given me and do my best
· Become a better dancer
SP: I know out of town summer intensives are quite pricey and that you did several things to help with the costs of the program. Can you tell us about that?
I sent out fundraising letters to my family and friends. I took babysitting jobs any time I possibly could. I also partnered with CiCi’s Pizza when my youth group was going there after one of our events and they gave me a percentage of the profit made that night. I am so blessed to have so many supporters.
SP: Tell us how you felt during the weeks and days leading up to the first day of the intensive.
The weeks leading up to the intensive flew by. I took in every moment I had with my family and friends because I knew that I would not be seeing them like I normally would. I was very excited to be going to a ballet school out of state and to experience new teachers. Dancing makes me super excited and happy and I was looking forward to dancing all day, every day. It was also nerve-racking knowing that it would be different from anything I had ever experienced.
SP: Tell us about the very first day.
The first day I walked in and sat down in the lobby on the first floor waiting with the many dancers to be called back to the studios. I did not know anyone, I did not know what to expect, and I was nervous. However, I soon realized that many people didn’t know anyone else either. I met a girl and she was very friendly. We all went into the biggest studio on the fifth floor. The directors then introduced themselves and the Rock School Staff. Then they gave a small orientation about the school and what to expect. After that, we began our first class. In this class we received name tags that we wore the whole intensive. These tags said our first name and last initial, how many weeks we were dancing and what level we were in. After my first class, I went down to the cafeteria and ate my packed lunch with the girl who I met at the beginning of the day. Then I had my afternoon classes. It was a very exciting, full day, and by the end of it I was worn out.
SP: During the intensive, what did a typical day look like for you?
A typical day would start with a ballet technique class in the morning and then I would go down to the cafeteria for lunch. We had a pretty long lunch break, so I had time to read, write in my journal, skype my family, stretch, and pretty much have time for myself. After lunch break, I had another ballet technique class followed by a pointe class. After my pointe class, I had rehearsal for the final show scheduled for the end of the intensive. I didn’t have rehearsal every night but at least three days a week. After rehearsal, I would eat dinner in the cafeteria and then hop back on the bus and go back to the dorms.
SP: What were some highlights of your 5 weeks of training at the Rock School?
I loved every minute I was at the Rock School. The best moment I had was the beginning of the third week. I was actually really sad that first Monday because I had a hard time saying goodbye to my mom and sister. They stayed with me the first two weeks and then went back home while I stayed in the dorms for the last three. In my first class of the day, I was getting a little teary-eyed thinking about them. God is so gracious and He took care of me. In His perfect timing, the director so happened to be watching that class. She told me at the end of class that I was moving up to a higher level! I was thrilled and felt more confident not only in my dancing, but also knowing that God was taking care of me. He knew that I needed that extra push to keep going even when I had no family to be with me. This was definitely the biggest highlight of my time at the Rock school. After I moved up, I had more hours of training and I also got to take a partnering class once a week. I conquered my triple pirouette and was very happy because I could tell I was improving. Of course, I loved performing on stage at the end of the intensive. I was so glad to see my family and the Rogers family after the show. Another cool thing was my roommate’s name was Allison too.
SP: Did you encounter any particular challenges and how did you face those challenges?
During my time at the Rock, I was recovering from peroneal tendonitis. My feet didn’t bother me every class I took, but the first few days were the worse than the rest. In order to get to the studios, you have to take at least four or five flights of stairs and stairs were one of the main things that aggravated my feet. I was constantly going up and down and my feet were hurting bad enough that I had to sit out of some of my classes. I never sat out of a full class, but I did have to sit out when it came time for jumping. I discovered there was an elevator available and did not take the stairs after that. Not taking the stairs helped my feet tremendously. I also took an ice bath every lunch break.
Another big challenge was I did not have any Christian friends. I did not meet one Christian while I was there. This was difficult because I did not have anyone to encourage me in my faith. However, I did have Someone who was taking care of me. God was with me and He was my true friend, comforter, and sustainer. I found encouragement from the Bible that He is on my side and I have nothing to fear.
I became friends with one girl in particular who told me that she was not very religious. I was able to share my faith with her and be a light. Every morning we took a bus to the Rock from the college dorms where we were staying. I used this time to listen to podcasts by John Piper, Paul David Tripp, Matt Chandler, and many more. It was a refreshing way to start my day. One time I was sitting with my friend on the bus and we both listened to a podcast together. It was really cool to see God reaching out to those who do not know Him. I continued to build a relationship with her and had many opportunities to shine Jesus’s light.
SP: Did you find the other dancers encouraging to one another or competitive with one another? Did you make any friends?
For the most part, I would say that the other dancers were friendly. There were some that were a little more competitive than others. Outside of the studio, I would say that most everyone was friendly. In the studio, to be honest, I was not really paying attention to those around me because I was focused on getting as much out of every class as I could. Looking at others would only distract me from the reason why I came. I did make friends with my roommates and a few other girls from my class.
SP: So, what are your plans for this summer?
This summer I am going back to the Rock School for another five weeks. This time I will be staying in a dorm the entire time.
SP: Are you preparing in a different way? What are your goals the second time around?
This time around, I am more confident. One, because I know what to expect. Two, since last summer, I have grown closer in my relationship with the Lord. I am going to use the gifts that He has given me to the fullest. I am also excited because this time I am going with a dear friend, Juliette. It will be easier for me this time because I know someone, and not just any someone, a good Christian friend. Having a friend who I can encourage and be encouraged from is a blessing from the Lord.
My goals the second time around include drawing closer to God, and being a light to those who are around me. As far as technique goals, I plan on continuing to improve my level of control, increase the height of my arabesque, work on having better quality in my jumps, and being able to do multiple pirouettes.
SP: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
I want to encourage anyone who is thinking about or is about to go away to a summer intensive that God is with you always. Yes, learn as much as you can from your classes and teachers; however, the most important thing is to have a strong foundation in the Lord. He gave you your gifts and talents and He deserves the glory. When things get hard and don’t go the way you expect or want, God will give you the strength you need.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13