Behind the Scenes of Dance


Annette Chu shows off her back bend, right split, and penché.

By Annette Chu, Editor-in-Chief

When I was four years old, I watched movies with ballerinas, and that’s how I was introduced to dance. I would be fascinated watching them, and I wanted to do that myself. However, my financial stability growing up wasn’t like it is today. I grew up poor during that time, so no matter how much I begged my parents to put me in ballet, they couldn’t afford it.

However, by the time I was in 8th grade, our financial situation got better, and to my luck, there was a dance studio right next to my house, and that’s where my journey began.


The Studio

I dance at a performance-based studio. I first started on January 2017, and reading the paragraphs above, you would expect that I took ballet. However, I did the opposite. I took Hip Hop 1 for a few months, and then later took both Hip Hop 1 and Ballet 1.

I was in my first competitive dance team after I was invited to a private audition at the studio. I was placed in Factory Crew, a hip hop based team. I was in it from November 2017 to June 2018.

Every year you have to re-audition for teams. This year, when I did my audition, I was placed in Dream Team Hip Hop. I’m really grateful for the opportunities this team provides me, and I do enjoy my time there. We get to perform at big events like Disney and get to go to competitions.

I got to perform this year at Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Parkinson Moving Day Miami, North Miami Thanksgiving Parade, and my studio’s Holiday Show. We have two more shows coming up in April and May, and our huge recital coming in June.


Performing and Competing

Performances and competitions are extremely stressful because we’re given an image on what makeup and costumes we have to wear, and we have to follow it and look perfect. However, all that stress is worth it in the end, because you get to go out and perform in front of many people and show them what you worked hard for the past rehearsals.

In competition, you see girls rushing to get ready on time, so they don’t miss their number. It’s insane. We compete against a lot of big studios that focus mainly on competitions so it’s extremely high-pressured. You’ll see a range of genres such as contemporary, jazz, tap, hip hop. After the performance, everyone is sitting on the stage, where awards are given based on category and overall. In our first competition in Broward, my team won Diamond, 3rd place category and 5th overall. In our last competition of the season, in Miramar, we won Ruby and 3rd overall.


The Difficulties of the Dance World

Even though I love and enjoy dance, it can be hard sometimes. This year has been the most stressful academically for me, so when you mix dance late at night with school, it makes my head want to explode. I wake up at 6 AM to go to school, and I get home at 5 PM, and on Mondays and Wednesdays, I go to dance from 7 to 8:30 PM. On the days I have dance, I’m sometimes up past midnight trying to finish homework and study. It’s extremely hard sometimes, especially when we have upcoming performances, because sometimes they will add extra rehearsals or extend practices.

I get little sleep every week, and I forget to eat meals a lot, because after dance, I’m just focused on homework, and I forget everything else. My friends and I all wonder how I’m still functioning properly to this day. This year due to all the stress, I’ve developed panic attacks. They were more prominent in the beginning of the year, but I’ve learned how to handle them, even though I never received any treatment for them.

Another thing is injuries. I pulled my hamstring during the first competition of the season, and I still have to go full out during rehearsals. In teams, even if you’re sick or injured, you still have to come to rehearsals. I have suffered back injuries, twisted ankles, and pulled hamstrings. If you are injured, you can sit out, but must watch the practice. When competitions were coming up and I had a really bad back injury, since I really needed to learn the dance, I was still going through the movements, but at half speed.

You see the dancers on stage and you watch them in awe, but it does come with a price. Being in teams, or even just a normal studio dancer, you spend a lot, and I mean A LOT, of money every year on rehearsals, costumes, additional classes, performance fees, competition fees, accessories, makeup, additional performances, etc. My studio, however, does offer scholarships for classes to help dancers who can’t afford it.


The Benefits of Dance

It may cost a lot, but if it’s something you really enjoy doing and it’s something you’re willing to sacrifice your time and social life for, then it’s worth it in the end, because you learn so much more than just how to dance. Dance has really boosted my confidence and self-esteem, because I used to be even more shy and reserved before I started dancing. But now I’m a little more open, and I’m comfortable being myself.

It can also benefit you by teaching you time management, how to be organized, improving strength and flexibility, increasing endurance, and learning stuff faster. I have experienced improvement in all these during the past two years, and I can say dance teaches you and helps you a lot in life, despite the price.


Balancing Both School & Dance

Time management is something every student needs, especially the ones who do afterschool activities. There are multiple ways you can manage your time, but it depends on the person and what works best for him or her. I use a planner or memorize what homework I have. You can also study in advance or get a head start on your homework, even though it’s not due until a few days. You can do work during your free periods, so you don’t have homework when you get home. I have a friend at dance who does her homework at the studio, while she is waiting for her next class.

When managing your time, you have to make sure you’re also eating and getting enough sleep. Also, don’t get overly stressed. Know your limits. Working hard is a good thing, because it prepares you for life after high school, but there is a certain limit your body can take. Don’t sacrifice your mental or physical health for success. It’s not going to get you anywhere, and you’re going to get burnt out before you even reach those goals. Also, we don’t need zombies walking around school.

My Future in Dance

Next year, I’m going to be a junior, which is known to be the most stressful year in high school due to SATs, ACTs, and preparing for college. I really want to focus on school next year because I’m going to have a lot of difficult classes, and I really want to go to college. I also want to get more involved in school.

To do that, I’m going to have to sacrifice one thing, and, unfortunately, that has to be dance. I have been feeling really burnt out this year due to the all the stress, and I need a break from dance teams. I will, however, continue dancing by taking regular classes.

I plan to join dance teams again my senior year, since it’ll be my last year at the studio. I also want to take a few dance classes when I’m in college because I’ve waited the majority of my young life to do dance, and it’s something I don’t want to let go.