Featuring: SJHS student dancer

Sayle Owen, Copy Editor

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“Sticking to it, and working as hard as you can, so that you can perform better every time.”

-Oliviana Moreno, 11, Citadel Dancer/SJHS Student

Dance means a lot to many high school students—Oliviana Moreno is no exception. Below is the transcription of an interview with another committed dancer, Reagan Lifferth, 11, who is a SJHS student and a dancer at the Citadel Dance & Music Center.

How many years have you taken dance? How old were you when you started?

I have been taking dance for about thirteen years. I started taking dance classes around the age of three or four.

What made you start taking dance?

I generally just wanted to do it because I was a little girly girl who thought dancing was for princesses. I also thought dancing was very majestic and beautiful.

What made you continue dance?

Over time, I grew to respect dance more as a professional art and realized what the possibilities could be for me as a career path.

How many different kinds of dance are you taking? Which is your personal favorite?

I take six different dance classes and my favorite is probably contemporary or jazz.

What does your normal dance schedule look like? How many hours a week?

I have dance every Monday and Tuesday from 4:30 to 9:00, occasionally on Wednesdays and Fridays, and company rehearsals are pretty much always on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the afternoon.

What’s the hardest thing about balancing school and dance?

Trying to get homework done in between dance classes.

Do you take more dance classes during the summer than you do during the school year?

Yes. We have this summer program, and dance intensives for anyone who joins. Since I  am in the Citadel Dance Company, we have a set requirement for the classes we take.

How much does dancing cut into your free time?

Dance is my free time, if you know what I mean.

What is the environment like in your dance classes?

I dance at the Citadel in Benton harbor, and there are multiple studios, so there is plenty of dancing space. The teachers are well educated dance majors that teach with experience and make the class fun for everyone.

How many performances do you participate in a year?

I perform in a lot small performances, like noon dance showings that are located at our studio, and other stuff such as that. The major performances I’m in are about three. That would include: A Steamed Nutcracker, the Gala (at Hansen theater), and the Spring concert.

What have you missed out on because of dance?

Not much that I would care to miss, it’s really just the small things like going to a movie or hanging out with my friends every now and then. I still have time to hang out with friends and family though.

How would you compare the amount of work you put into dance with other activities?

I believe that my dance career is one of the most top priorities for me so I can say that besides working hard for school, dance is almost equal to the amount of work I put in for school. I do think that church and the spiritual aspects of my life are the most important for me to work on in life, though.

What is most rewarding about dance?

The performing aspect of it. Once all the work you have put into a dance piece has finally come together you get to perform it in front of an audience. I know that sounds terrifying to a lot of people, but there is nothing like it in the whole world, you get to become another character and just live in a fantasy. The feeling of being on stage dancing is honestly indescribable. There is nothing like it.

Have you made friends through dance? How would you describe these friendships?

You’re going to make friends in a dance class. It just happens, and there is no way of stopping it. Of course when I first moved here, I didn’t know anyone, but after living here a long time I have met some of my best friends at my dance studio.

What are your future plans related to dance? Do you want to be a professional, or is more of a hobby?

In the near future, I hope I can go to college and take dance as a major. I would like to have a professional dancing career someday.


Lari Lawerence-Gist, Director of Dance, Citadel Dance & Music Center


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