Roxy Rivard

Sophomore Roxy Rivard describes dance as more than just a hobby and plans to dance all her life through a variety of styles. (Photo Ethan Robenoff)

Sophomore Roxy Rivard describes dance as more than just a hobby and plans to dance all her life through a variety of styles. (Photo Ethan Robenoff)

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For sophomore Roxy Rivard, dance is more than just a hobby.

It is her rock and foundation.

“I don’t know how to do math. I’m not good at painting or drawing or anything,” said Rivard. “But I know how to dance. It keeps me sane and gives me a sense of stability.”

Rivard trains and performs with the Cambridge Youth Dance Company (CYDC), taking ballet, jazz, tap and modern classes.

Although she did not always enjoy ballet, Rivard said that it has taught her more than pirouettes and pliés.

“I have severe ADHD. In ballet, ADHD definitely didn’t help me, but ballet totally helped my ADHD,” said Rivard.

Because of the amount of structure ballet requires, Rivard said she has been able to learn the art of staying still and focusing.

“Ballet makes a huge impact on your focus skills and your concentration,” said Rivard. “You need to have technique and you need to know what’s right and what’s wrong.”

CYDC founder and artistic director Deborah Mason agreed that dance has taught Rivard skills that have helped her in the school environment.

“She is required to be disciplined, focused, and that alone for Roxy is a big deal,” said Mason. “To have to do that everyday here, organized and on time. All of those structures have made her a responsible person.”

Though ballet has helped her with concentration skills, Rivard still struggles with math and science. She said that dance also helps her cope with her academic frustration.

“The dance community is super-supportive,” said Rivard. “And dance itself makes you learn how to be emotionally connected to your pieces, and it teaches you how to physically express how you’re feeling mentally.”

Over time, dance has become more liberating than disciplining for Rivard.

“When I was younger, dance was definitely restricting. But as I got older, I learned about the freedom of dance and the freedom that it gives you in real life,” said Rivard. “When I choreograph or when I just dance, I know that whatever I’m going through I’ll be able to dance out physically.”

Mason said that Rivard’s emotions and struggles have shaped Rivard as a dancer.

“She has a broad insight,” said Mason. “She’s able to reach into some feelings and some issues that others might not want to reach into. That’s what makes her so special.”

Rivard has performed on stages such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston. She has participated in tap dance workshops in Washington, D.C. and New York.

She and the company were even invited to perform in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

“If you’ve gotten to the level where you understand and gotten to the level where you’re passionate about dance and show it on stage or show it in rehearsal, you can totally connect with people,” said Rivard.

Though a career in dance is not definite for Rivard, a lifetime of dancing is certain.

“Last summer, I was talking to a theater coach who works at my dance school. She said, ‘You have to be a crazy person to want to dance; it has to be the only thing you want to do,’ and that’s when I realized that that’s it,” said Rivard. “Dance is who you are and how you’re represented. It’s how you express yourself, how you’re thinking about it physically. It’s a life.

Pearl Choi can be contacted at

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