Hip hop dancers and break dancers, ballerinas and tap dancers, contemporary artists and musical theater performers. What do all of them have in common? A profound love for the art of dance in each of its many varied forms. Every dancer knows that to improve as a dancer, you must dedicate a large amount of time and effort. The professional ballet dancers floating across the stage in The Nutcracker last Christmas didn’t get those long extensions and quadruple pirouettes by watching others do it. They got to the studio and worked on it. In the strive for unattainable perfection, dancers know that there is always room for improvement. But all this time and sweat in the studio isn’t a sacrifice for most dancers. Why? Because they absolutely, irrevocably love what they do.
I spent some time talking to dancers at Point Park University: a freshman jazz concentration, a sophomore modern concentration, and the chair of the university’s Conservatory dance department. They talked about what it is about dance that they love the most.
Sophomore Alexandra Zegar started dancing when her mom — a Point Park alum — put her in class at the age of 4. She started taking more and more dance classes by the time she was in sixth grade, and she started thinking about dance as a professional career when she attended a musical that year.
“At some point during the show, I just decided, ‘That looks awesome, I really want to do it,'” Zegar said. “Since then, I’ve wanted to be a dancer.”
Freshman Lydia Clinton also took her first dance class when she was 4 years old. The difference? She did not like it. But she tried another class four years later, and by the time she was in high school, it was a serious passion in her life.
Clinton advises young, aspiring dancers to work hard…really hard.
“Dance like you want to be in a company the next day. Don’t be impatient with yourself, but work really hard and take the opportunity of every class…Really take that opportunity to get better,” Clinton said.
Susan Stowe is a lifelong dancer who takes great joy in teaching college dancers who want to do the same with their lives. With every performance opportunity, she encourages her students to learn and get the most out of each show.
“Part of a dancer’s growth comes through performance, so it’s important that they have the opportunity to perform, the rehearsal process where they learn the dance, perfect the technical and artistic parts of it, and then be able to do it for an audience. It’s part of a dancer’s growth, which will hopefully prepare them for employment after they graduate,” Stowe said.
To hear more from these dancers, check out this audio package!