A Dancer’s Perspective

A snowy haired girl tiptoed across the black floor. After a simple plié, senior Sarah Wilson gave the audience a dazzling smile before she straightened from her pointe shoes up to the silver bun atop her head. Then she launched into a dizzying series of spins. Each piece of glitter on her face, each rhinestone on her leotard, each strand of taut, slicked back hair shimmered in the bright lights of the stage.

“My mom put me in dance at three. My sister was in dance too, but freshman year was when I became a real bunhead,” Wilson said.

Though she loves dance, Wilson has considered quitting.

“It’s just so stressful balancing dance and school, but then I remember what it feels like to dance and I can do it again,” she said.

Wilson was a part of Young America Grand Prix (YAGP), which is the world’s largest network of dance. YAGP has eight international locations which reach 10,000 dance students annually through workshops, scholarships, and masterclasses.

“The best role I’ve ever played was YAGP’s Coppelia in Lent Cold Virtures,” Wilson said. “I would love to play Odile and or Odette in Black Swan, or Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.”

The dance community was Wilson’s favorite part of dance.

“I love the comradery. You don’t even have to like someone to get excited when they do well,” she said.

Although dance helped Wilson make friends, she thought the community still had a ways to go.

“It could grow. Definitely in the negative body standards. You don’t have to be bone thin to be a dancer,” Wilson said. “The industry has a long way to go in accepting different bodies, but racially it has made leaps and bounds.”

Wilson said dance was her way of freeing herself.

“Dance is a way of letting go. I love the rigidity of dance with the freedom of expression. I want people to know it’s hard work,” Wilson said. “So many hours go into the littlest detail; it’s a lot of muscles and skill and we are supposed to make it look easy.”

Each show is produced through months of daily practices that can range anywhere from four to 10 or more hours.

“I eat a lot of carbs. I’m vegetarian but I eat a lot. For most sports there’s a cutting and a bulking season, but for dance it’s almost always cutting season,” Wilson said. “At the Louisville Summer Intensive, that was the most food I’ve ever eaten and that’s because it was nonstop dance.”

Wilson hopes to become a star dancer like Wendy Whelan, dancing even in her older years.

“I want to minor in dance,” Wilson said. “It helped me be a quick thinker and hard worker. It also just keeps me in shape.”