The biggest constant in my life is dance; so much so that I truly don’t even remember a life without it. My mom signed me up for ballet classes when I was four years old, and from there I didn’t turn back. I never complained about going to practices or performances, I made up dances with friends in my spare time, and my mom continued signing me up for more and more classes every year. I never even tried another sport (except for one dreadful year of basketball in the third grade that I choose to ignore). I didn’t want to play sports, I really just wanted to dance.
I danced competitively for a few years in elementary and middle school, and it was then that I became more serious and dedicated to the art. It wasn’t just an extra-curricular activity that I did to keep busy after school, but something that I felt passionate about. I pushed myself to stretch and try new things even when my current dance company was not fostering my desire to grow. In high school I finally found a studio that would push me farther than I thought possible and would quickly become my home.
I have been so lucky to call Stavna Ballet my home for the past 5 years. Within those walls I had the incredible opportunity to share my love of dance with young ballerinas as I was teaching classes and summer camps. Adorned in fluffy tutus and sparkly leotards smaller than anyone thought possible, the children at Stavna inspire me just as much as I inspire them. Their toothy smiles and warm hugs are precious reminders that my presence is always cherished, giving me more confidence as a dancer myself.
In my time at Stavna I have built relationships that have forever changed the way that I view the world. The artistic director, Shannon, is not only my biggest role model but one of my best friends. She made it possible for me to believe in myself and to dream big. She taught me how to transform a simple, desolate room into a blank canvas with potential to create unique and beautiful movement. I have become my truest self through dance and through my relationship with Shannon and other teachers at Stavna.
When it came to my senior year of high school, it was important that the college I chose to attend would support the passion that had been instilled in my bones for the previous 16 years. I had always wanted to go to University of Richmond, following in my mom and brother’s footsteps, and was incredibly lucky to discover that their dance program would allow me to pursue my academic goals while still dancing as much as I wanted to. I applied to the school and auditioned for their dance company, and have been loving it more than I ever thought possible. I’ll be going into my junior year in the fall, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Dance and Healthcare Studies.
I’ve had the incredibly unique opportunity to work with choreographers from around the country and see many different performances by professional and college programs over the past two years of school, opening my eyes to just how diverse yet connected the world of dance is. It’s as if we are all speaking the same language of movement, but everyone has their own accent to that language. I’m not sure where the rest of my life will take me, but I can’t wait to continue exploring and finding my voice.
About Lauren's Location
I chose to do my shoot at the University of Richmond for pretty obvious reasons; because I am currently a student there. Not only is it the most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen, but it’s a place that I find a lot of joy because of the many memories and experiences I’ve had on the campus the past two years. With every walk to class I am reminded of how lucky I am to have found a school that makes me feel strong, comfortable, and proud.