Dance Extreme is grateful to our graduated dancers who are pursuing their passion for dance. Richelle Hirlehey, Assistant Artistic Director, caught up with graduate Maggie Kelly to talk about her path after Dance Extreme.
Richelle Hirlehey: Can you provide me with a brief overview of your training?
Maggie Kelly: I began dancing at age 3 with creative movement classes. I progressed to basic ballet and jazz classes, and then I began competing at age 7 at a studio called Absolute Dance in Delaware. I then transitioned to Dance Extreme and competed there for 11 years.
During my first few years at Dance Extreme, I was also taking additional ballet classes at Swan Studio. At Dance Extreme, I trained in ballet, jazz, contemporary, improvisation, and acrobatics. I danced and competed with Dance Extreme all through my high school years, and had the opportunity to perform all over Ontario, as well as internationally in Boston and London, England.
Richelle: When did you know it was dance that you wanted to pursue professionally?
Maggie: It’s hard for me to pinpoint one exact moment when I decided I wanted to pursue dance professionally. It sort of felt more like dance chose me. All I knew was that nothing else in my life could hold my attention quite like dancing, and nothing else gave me the same sense of joy, curiosity and excitement. Performing gave me a thrill that I felt I had to pursue, and with the support of my family, I thought, why not chase something that makes me so happy?
Richelle: What advice do you have for young dancers who are training with a studio currently and maybe are not yet sure about the possibility of dancing professionally?
Maggie: My first piece of advice for young dancers is: savour every minute. Dancing is a gift, and the time you spend training is precious. It’s an opportunity to dig deeper into your craft, finesse your ability, and explore the capabilities of your own body. It is fascinating, and it should never be taken for granted.
My second piece of advice is: be brave. Dancing is a hard career to pursue, not only because it is unstable and competitive, but also because it is a very vulnerable way to spend your life.
And my final piece of advice, and this is a big one: learn to love ballet! Many young dancers make the hasty decision that ballet is ‘boring’ or ‘unnecessary,’ but it is the foundation for everything. It will only heighten your other styles, and learning proper alignment will protect you from injury.
Richelle: Do you have anything you wished you had done differently along your path?
Maggie: One thing I wish I had done differently was starting tap at an early age! I didn’t try it out until after I moved to New York, and I regret waiting so long. It’s such a good skill to have, and it trains a whole different skillset that I wish I’d learned as a younger dancer.
Richelle: What words of wisdom would you pass along to current studio dancers?
Maggie: My words of wisdom are simply to never let your ego get in the way of your own growth. There is always room to learn and improve as an artist. Be open, be willing, and work hard. The rest is out of your hands.
By Richelle Hirlehey with Maggie Kelly for Dance Extreme