For fans of “Dance Moms” and “Dancing with the Stars”, dancing might seem impossibly hard. To the normal viewer, it seemingly demands superhuman levels of flexibility and grit.
It’s difficult to imagine undergoing such a regimen of training and competition while still leading a normal life. And yet, Pinewood dancers senior Stephanie Chui, sophomore Kyra Scott, and freshman Audrey Cutler do exactly that daily.
These three dancers each engage in intense practice routines and compete regularly, attending prestigious events and winning a variety of accolades. Chui dances ballet, Cutler mainly dances ballet and occasionally contemporary, and Scott dances all styles except for hip-hop.
Chui, a senior, has been dancing since she was two and a half years old. She began focusing only on ballet. At age eight, she began to grow into all different areas of dance. However, in seventh grade, Chui decided to narrow her scope to ballet again. Today, she dances 13 and a half hours a week, drastically upping her load since her junior year.
“I felt that [doing ballet] was what I felt most drawn to,” Chui said.
Chui’s studio Pacific Ballet values performances over competitions. This, however, is not the case for Kyra Scott.
Scott, a sophomore, began dancing when she was nine and competes almost every weekend. Her team, Superteen, under the studio Dance Academy USA, recently clinched first place at the Spotlight Dance Cup and four other awards at the Hollywood Connection Dance Convention. Her training lasts about three to four hours every day except for Friday, summing up to about 14-32 hours a week. Scott doesn’t seem to mind.
“It’s like my personal escape from school. It’s just a time where I don’t have to think about [that]. It’s fun, and I enjoy it,” Scott said.
All three dancers share the same feeling. Cutler, a freshman, has been dancing since she was three. After doing hip-hop for two years, she mainly dances ballet and does contemporary once a week at Western Ballet Company. Cutler dances two and a half hours every weekday and six to seven hours on Saturday, making a total of 18 to 19 hours a week. In Jan., she auditioned for Joffrey Ballet, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and City Ballet. She has been accepted by City Ballet and is still deciding on whether to join or not. As for the three dancers, each has a different vision for their dance-related future. As Chui transitions to college, she wants to continue dance on the side but far less intensively. Scott wants to continue at least until the end of high school; her attitude about college reflects Chui’s. On the other hand, Cutler remains unsure of the long term.
“It really depends on what my dancing career brings me with injuries and everything. With dancing, I never know where it might bring me through my life,” Cutler said.
However, her passion for dance permeates her lifestyle. Cutler believes that dancing has taught her discipline and drive, and she hopes to pursue ballet through college by choosing it as one of two majors.