Leaping out of love

Dorothy Lakshmanamurthy, Page Editor

Glistening in the stage light, I was two years old with my golden fringed costume at my first recital as I danced to “All the Single Ladies.” That moment, I fell in love with dance. I kept up with dance classes as I got older. I learned the fundamentals of the ballet positions and pointed toes. As I advanced, I learned how to execute the proper turning technique and perform complex moves. What I loved most was dance’s power to express emotions through a beautiful outlet of movement that words could not convey. 

This admiration for dance drove me to try out for the WWMS dance team in eighth grade. I never had experience with a competitive dance team, so I was an “alternate” and did not partake in competition routines that year. The coach told me that she saw my passion and potential as I tried out. So, I was willing to put in the work to learn the competitive side of dance. 

As I moved to the high school team, I had that same coach my first year. It was covid year, so the JV team only performed one dance: jazz. Looking back, I can see why we won State with that dance. The coaches knew when to be tough to ensure the state-winning quality of our routine, but also showcased an emotional story with our routine that we were able to portray.

 It is hard to focus on sharing a story and conveying a message to the audience when a competitive dance team tends to forget about that artistry. The team seems to only pay attention to obtaining laboring skills, which results in many injuries and stress as dancers try to achieve them. 

It is frustrating, especially for me, because I never focused on acrobatic skills prior to joining the team. I am not a gymnast, I am a dancer. Also, just trying to find time to obtain these skills involves an extra expense and space of time eliminated from dancers’ already busy schedule. 

I have scheduled team practices every Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and we sometimes have practices or a competition to attend on Saturday. Dancers are also required to be enrolled in outside dance classes, to maintain their dancing technique. With all this, dancers brought up that they cannot be in other activities that they used to do in previous years. Additional activities are needed to acquire graduation points and to be well-rounded. 

Dance is an art that should deliver an impactful story to the audience. When I attended dance camp last summer with the Munster Dance program, they had an improv dance session one evening. The camp instructors played music and watched us feel the music in our own unique ways. The instructors walked around and called specific people who stood out to them to perform in the center of the floor for the entire camp, and I was one of them. I did not throw any extreme skills, I just listened to the words and the beat of the music and portrayed that. What truly matters is the emotion and artistry, which separates a mediocre performance with a breathtaking performance, and is the initial reason I fell in love with dance.