Imagine dancing two hours per day, six days per week, for nine straight years. Fine-tuning your skills and honing your craft outside of school, to such an extent that you could turn one of your hobbies into a profession. For many committed dancers at the high school, this is their reality.
Many dancers at the high school value having separate dance experience outside of school. However, often they find it difficult to balance their two separate worlds and eventually have to think about whether or not they can see themselves dancing professionally.
Junior Caroline Ericsson, a ballet dancer, said that she fell in love with dance at five years old when she started at Boston Ballet school. Later, when middle school began and ballet became more serious, Ericsson said that she started to seriously think about the time commitment.
“I think I was kind of unsure about dance once I got to middle school,” Ericsson said. “‘Is this what I want to do for a profession or do I want to do something something else?’ I think when I became a freshman, I realized that I have to eventually decide what to do.”
Sophomore Gigi Walsh, a ballet dancer at the Brookline Ballet School, said that the heavy commitment is worth it due to the many friendships she has been able to develop outside of school.
“I think it’s a little bit like you have a separate group of friends, so it’s nice to have your school friends and then a separate group from dance,” Walsh said.
Walsh, as well as ballet dancer and senior Tim Hartshorn, went to a serious dance program over the summer to enhance her training. The program Walsh committed to involved dancing from sunrise to sunset, with interlaced contemporary and ballet classes. Hartshorn’s summer program was in San Francisco, where he studied with several famous dancers from the American theater for two weeks.
Hartshorn acknowledges that making the choice to stick to dance as a serious extracurricular and possible career choice was a difficult one. As a sophomore, Hartshorn tore his labrum muscle in both his hips and had to go to physical therapy for over one-and-a-half years.
“Working through that was really hard. It not only affected how I dance but also things like getting on my shoes or going up the stairs,” Hartshorn said.
Although Ericsson and Walsh have not been injured, they agree that dancing through the pain has taught them discipline and determination. However, no matter the pressure or time commitment, all three dancers see dance as a very special part of their lives.
“It’s special to me because it’s very athletically and technically challenging but at the same time it’s a form of artistic expression,” Walsh said. “It’s a balance.”