I was a late-bloomer to the world of dance. Competitive gymnastics captivated me from the age of five. When gymnastics started becoming scary to me, at age 13, I made the switch to dance. I’ve never looked back. The transition has been easy from a performance standpoint – I loved to perform in front of a gymnastics audience – and there are scoring and judging elements to dance competitions, much like in gymnastics, too. And dance also appeals to my desire to master something and perform at my best. But learning the proper dance technique, that’s been another story!! I had a lot to learn.
I started taking dance at All About Dance, a studio in Lincoln Park, first doing private lessons. My goal was to prepare for, audition, and make their company and competitive dance team. Then, I started taking classes, and then more classes. Ballet technique, jazz, modern, contemporary, tap, pointe, hip hop and core-work classes started filling up my after school schedule. My dance teachers were mostly Giordano Dance Chicago professional dancers, so I started attending all of their shows! I went to other local shows too, showcasing other styles of dance. My teachers recommended I look for summer dance intensives to do. That led me to the “Made in Chicago” Summer Dance Intensive at the Auditorium Theatre last summer.
I’ll be honest, when I signed up for the “Made in Chicago” intensive, I fully expected to learn a ton and that the week would culminate in a performance on the 125-year-old Auditorium Theatre stage! Alas, we just received a tour of the Auditorium Theatre; however, their staff organized an amazing week of dance for us. I did learn a LOT! Company members from Thodos Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, River North Dance Company, and even Ms. Nan Giordano herself from Giordano Dance Chicago, taught us classes on a daily basis! That was amazing being exposed to actual professional dancers from these companies and their teaching methods. The teachers came to know us by our first names. We did a mock audition and were critiqued by top personnel from these companies as well. To say that I was thoroughly motivated and inspired by all of my teachers at this Intensive is an understatement.
One of the best parts about my week at the Auditorium Theatre was meeting and working with Ms. Giordano. At the closing “show” for parents, she surprised me with the first-ever “Giordano Light Award,” given to the student-dancer who “embodies the Giordano spirit and exemplifies the polished characteristics of a Giordano dancer.” I have never been more proud or flattered in my life. This award has meant so much to me, as it has given me a real-world look at the life of a professional dancer. In the months since the Intensive, Ms. Giordano invited me to take classes with her company, to observe a world-famous choreographer set a piece on the company (that was featured in their fall show), to go back stage to watch how they mentally prepare for a show, and also to watch the show from the wings. Finally, I was presented with the award on stage after the first act. All of this has been overwhelming!
And it’s not over. Ms. Giordano invited me to attend the once-per-year Chicago Audition for her 10-member company. I will take her master class and then “audition” myself. Unreal! While this is just a “practice” audition for me, just being given the opportunity to audition as a teenager with 22+-year-olds who are hoping for a very competitive spot on professional dance company roster is phenomenal.
My last year of dance has been nothing short of fun and peppered with amazing opportunities, none of which would have happened if I hadn’t taken the “Made in Chicago” Dance Intensive last summer to improve my technique and grow as a dancer. As a result, I’m now interested in pursuing dance through high school and college, and possibly auditioning for a professional dance company in the future! Have I signed up for the “Made in Chicago” Summer Dance Intensive this coming summer? YES! You should too!!