Dancer Profile: Ashlee

This week we’re featuring talented young dancer Ashlee Gen.

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Ashlee is 14 years old and a year 10 student in college this year. She has been dancing since she was four years old and currently takes ballet, jazz and contemporary dance at Hayley Johnson Academy of Dance. In her spare time she enjoys baking and playing netball.

What do you love about dance?

I love the feeling of being able to move freely. Also I like how I can express myself without using words. I love the feeling of excitement when performing for people. I love being on a stage, with a beautiful costume on doing what I love.

What challenges you about dance? And how to you move past that?

I find it challenging to learn new dance moves, especially ballet moves as I haven’t been doing ballet for long. I guess practice is the best thing to do. But I don’t practice too much. Otherwise I find that I won’t be able to get it.

Who are your role models, inspirations in dance?

I definitely look up to Sophia Lucia. She holds the world record for the most consecutive pirouettes. I also look up to Kalani Hiliker, Jenna Valezuela and Christina Guieb. Christina dances at Hayley Johnson Academy of Dance and she got accepted into the NZSD Contemporary Programme for 2015. Another dancer I find inspirational is Heather Morris – I just enjoy watching her dance.

What is your favourite style?

I have two. I love lyrical and jazz.

What is your current favourite dance track (music)?

At the moment I like Chandelier by Sia.

Must have item of dance clothing?

Leotard and tights.

If you’d like to be featured on The Dance Well Project, please leave a comment below indicating this, or email briejessenvaughan @ icloud.com (just take the spaces out).

Dancer Profile: Emily

This week we’re featuring talented young dancer Emily Hollis.

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Emily is 14 years old and has been dancing for nine years. Beginning with ballet as a 5 year old Emily later picked up Tap, and then Jazz after taking a break from ballet for a few years. Last year she returned to ballet, and is now studying towards her intermediate ballet exam and elementary jazz exam. She currently takes classes at Hayley Johnson Academy of Dancing and Angela Goodall Dance Academy, both in Wellington. In her spare time she enjoys reading, writing short stories/poetry, drawing, learning, researching, maths and shopping. Not only is she a amazing dancer, she is also a fantastic violinist and a talented writer. Her future plans include getting involved in contemporary dance and doing well in her approaching major academic and dancing exams.

I’ve been lucky to know Emily for several years now, and I recently caught up with her about dance and what it means to her.

Why do you love dance?

I must admit, beginning dance as a shy five year old did not spark some intense fondness of the art; dance was not love at first sight for me. For those initial years I completed my routines like a perpetual, ongoing process that was neither enjoyable nor undesirable, a chugging train making slow but sure progress. It wasn’t until I discovered the full definition of dance as me, myself that I found myself as a dancer in our large but restrictive world. I can never explain sufficiently how the joy of movement, the contraction and extension of our muscles, can change someone. And those are the best kinds of things. I love dance because it is the only thing in this world that can extend memories into infinity, but also retract the negative until it’s zilch. The feeling when, halfway through a dance, you let go enough to understand you could do this into the early dawn of tomorrow, that a myriad of seconds exist in peace, waiting for you to fill them with movement. I love dance because I cannot describe the feeling of losing yourself in a piece of music and sketching the infinite lines of colour into each note. I love dance because when I move I can be anything I dare or wish to be. Dance can be infinite.

Tell me about something that’s challenged you in dance, but ultimately made you a better dancer.

Because I began more emotional, unrestricted kinds of dance later in my life, i.e jazz, it took me a long time to fully embrace the new sides of myself through this new form of movement. Especially contemporary, it was unusual for me to feel so connected with this art form. I was initially challenged with the transition, but afterwards I felt as though I could connect more often and, although I haven’t done any official contemporary dance I think it has helped me develop my other styles and my choreography skills as I had to observe other dances to widen my dance vocabulary.

What or who inspires you in your dancing?

My favourite ballerinas of late are Lucy Green of RNZB, Carrie Imler from PNB and Miko Fogarty who competes in the America Grand Prix. Others include Maddie Ziegler who performs in Sia’s music videos and of course the dancers around me. They are usually the ones who actually inspire me the most, because many of them are so humble and knowing them personally with all their passion brings me such joy and motivation to aim high and work with them to create something wondrous for the audience, whomever that may be, as well as ourselves.

Describe yourself as a dancer in 3 words.

Connected. Emotional. Imaginative.

So, the hardest question, what is your favourite dance style?

Ooh, that’s a toughie. I’d say contemporary over ballet (just) because it’s the only style I feel completely and utterly alive with.

What is your current favourite dance track?

Elastic Heart by Sia. This is absolutely the most emotionally connective song I have ever danced to.

Must have item of dance clothing?

Leotards, because you can wear it for anything! But tights are up there on the list too!

What are your goals for the future?

My goals for this year and beyond are to generally stay conscious of what I am doing to/putting into my body, for food can be a poison or an efficient resource, depending on how you decide to use it. As dancers I think it’s important to think this way and not think of food as only something to keep you alive. It can be exciting too! Apart from this time management has been, and will continue to be a essential part of life as a dancer, as major school AND dance exams near it can be difficult to stay on track to do well in both (a goal I am determined to succeed in). Hopefully, with a schedule and strong mind I can overcome these plights and transfer and apply time management into later life, where it is very valuable.

If you’d like to be featured on The Dance Well Project, please leave a comment below indicating this, or email briejessenvaughan @ icloud.com (just take the spaces out).