photo by Chrystal Nwaogu

by Tianna Smith, Staff Writer

Dance is an expression of words and character through poetic movements, personal stories, and nonverbal communication.

It is used to evoke the deepest thoughts and feelings of an individual without actually having to say anything. Dancers often describe the art as an extension of themselves and a way to escape from a sometimes cruel reality.

“My favorite style of dancing is contemporary because I flow through it,” sophomore studio dancer Kyla Chang said. “If I put on a contemporary song, I just go through the movements and it makes me who I am.”

Kyla is a devoted dancer enrolled at A.D. West Dance Company. Chang spends her hours outside of school in a room with three walls and an oversized mirror reflecting the soul of dance she carries within. Public school is a simple minor, overshadowed by her major in a life of dance.

“I started dancing at the age of nine. I’ve always loved dancing and when I was younger; I’d just go out in public places and break out into a dance,” Chang said.

As a student, teacher, or administrator, responsibilities like homework, projects, and tutoring can become overbearing and stressful. For many performers, dancing serves to heal the body and relax the mind.

For Chang, long hours every week at the A.D. West Dance Company is the perfect therapy after a difficult day.

“Dancing has made me a stronger person. I dance because it makes me feel good. It takes my mind off a lot of things,” Chang said.

After high school, Kyla wants to train until she feels she is ready to fulfill her ultimate life goal—opening up her own dance studio for other dancers, who share the same unconditional love for the art of dance.

“I have dance on Saturdays from twelve to six and it’s tiring, so it has interfered with my social life; I don’t have that much time for friends and going out,” Chang said.

Although an active social life has to be given up, a true dancer understands and accepts these terms and conditions. “Be prepared to sacrifice. Simple as that,” dance team coach Anquia Bowden said.

Faculty members believe that extracurricular activities improve the way students perform in the classroom and in life. Years of memorizing dances trains the mind to retain and remember information more precisely and accurately. Having the ability to perform in front of an attentive audience of hundreds of people tends to boost the confidence level for students having to present themselves to their classmates.

“Dancing is something students can do constructively while being entertaining and fun. They can use it to be creative artists in life and be successful,” administrator Krystal Wattley said.

Whether it’s a busy life of pointed toes and straight knees, or trying to perfect Arabesques and Grand jetés, dancers manage to better their character, gain physical strength, and lend themselves to freedom of expression. For Kyla Chang, that hard work is the difference between a first place award and a second place award.