Young, aspiring dancers uses dance for self-expression

As the lights in one of the dance rooms at Bak Middle School of the Arts dimmed, the music began to play. Sixth grade dance major Ari Shakerdge and other dance majors glided and leapt across the room, doing dance patterns and combos as they told a passionate story. A story that was told without them needing to open their mouths to speak.

“For me, dance has always been a way to express my feelings. I have always had trouble talking, and dance helped,” Shakerdge said.

But it wasn’t just Shakerdge who felt this way. Many other dancers, Including Giada Gutierrez, a sixth grade dance major, felt the same way as well.
“I like dance because it’s a way to express yourself and how you feel instead of having to talk,” Gutierrez said.

For a dance major, and dancers in general, they had to be able to hold their weight on the tip of their toes, all while being able to flow with the music and not make a sound. According to, dance can be broken down into five main key elements: body, action, time, space, and energy.

“Being a dance major consists of a lot of practice,” Olivia Confortti, dance major, said, “When I get to school, my first class every day is dance. At dance, we practice, stretch, and do dance combos.”

According to, Most forms of dance require multiple types of physical abilities, and incorporating exercise and stretching before or after dance is beneficial.

“Before you start to dance, you need to be flexible and not everybody is, so you need to practice to build your body up, and doing so will help you build muscle,” Gutierrez said.

There are multiple types of dance, and for the sixth graders at Bak Middle School of the Arts, they teach modern and ballet. Both modern and ballet classes at Bak are different, each in their own ways.

“I learn ballet and modern dance at school,” Shakerdge said, “In modern we warm up and do dance combos, and in ballet we do barre combos and practice for the preformance, which is going well.”

Shakerdge, Confortti, and Gutierrez have all been practicing for five years or more, Shakerdge for five years, Confortti for nine years, and Gutierrez for eight to nine and a half years. All three of them get to express themselves and do their passion, but sometimes it can have its downsides.

“Being a dance major can be a little rough, like wearing your dance clothes and a bun to school, as well as constantly getting corrected. But when you get to the studio, you forget about the bad things and everything gets better,” Gutierrez said, “Dance can be hard sometimes, because you are never going to not get corrected, but once you get it right and you get complimented, you feel a sense of pride in yourself.”

As the bell rang to go to their next class, the students grabbed their backpacks and walked out of the dance room as more students entered. Even though being a dance major could occasionally get a bit rocky, it’s worth it, to be able to do what they love. Dance.