I started dancing at a small ballet school near my home in Maryland. I first practiced gymnastics. At some point, I had to choose between ballet and gymnastics. I had started to get scared to perform certain moves like backflips and dance appeared like a new reassuring option. We had talent shows at school where my friend and I were choreographing and performing on the soundtracks of “Finding Nemo” or “Harry Potter”. We made performances at retirement homes as well.
Dance actually took a little while to grow on me when I was very young. I had a really strict teacher and I remember trying to skip the class. Then I started enjoying the discipline and repetition of it. Trying to improve. Being on stage became something I really loved as well.
Memories of me dancing
I was always dancing around in the living room. As a kid, I had to be moving and expressing myself. I was quiet and shy as a child.
I participated in a children’s ballet which was performed outdoors. After this show, people asked if any of the young dancers wanted to become professionals. I never had thought about it before and raised my hand realizing at the same time this could be an amazing thing to do!
What the audience would feel when they see ME dance
As artists, it is our job to awaken, to provide an escape to people out of their daily life. We get so easily caught up in our emotions and routine. Artists remind people of the wonders of the world and how amazing it is that we are alive first place. When I dance, I want people feel inspired. I want them to feel there is more possible than their experience of the world.
Where I source my energy
Something that really pushes me is learning about myself through my work. Learning about my weaknesses and strengths. I research a lot about psychology and philosophy. What drives and motivates us as human beings and professional dancers fascinates me. Having this background also helps in the ballet world, which can be a tough environment. If I am tired before a performance, I think about the audience. Why they came. I value what I do and want to show it. It helps me push myself in a performance.
Ambition as an artist
Part of my ambition is push myself technically and physically. See how far I can go, out of curiosity of what my body can do. Every day I am exploring that. Each day I try to find a new element to my dancing and I often surprise myself. My idea of what success looks like as a dancer has evolved over the last few years as I was going through struggles like eating disorder. Being focused on the everyday work and improve is for me the way to grow as a dancer, rather than focusing on getting a specific role. So many elements define how a career can go. Concentrating on your work and how you improve everyday can lead to no failure, as long as you are giving your best. It is worth it. I am learning and growing.
What dance can do
Dance is a wonderful way to find personal growth. Learn about yourself and your place in the world. I think there is value in working on something that is difficult and seeing improvement come from hard work. There is so much detail in dance, it is very hard, so each little milestone is very valuable and the possibilities are infinite. Dance as an art form also inspires. Dance can be a very emotionally driven thing and through that we can share different perspectives, much like literature.
Specific performance dear to my heart
Last year. Swan Lake. Such an inspiring night! I was not dancing, I was in the audience. Kizzy, one of the dancers of my company was promoted to principal dancer. I had been going through recovery from eating disorder, which she also went through in the past. She supported me a lot in these harsh times and became a role model to me. To see her achieve her dream gave me a lot of hope.
– Beila Ungar, Royal Danish Ballet.