Christine: How do you feel being one of the students who has studied dance the longest at CRS?
Ashley: It’s very rewarding. It feels pretty impressive to stick with something so long. Compared to other high school peers, I’ve stuck with something for 17 years.
Christine: What has that given you?
Ashley: It’s definitely helped me stay on track in my life. Time management–I’m very organized–because of dance and that’s helped me with academics.
Christine: What age did you know you wanted to dance in college?
Ashley: Recently. Dancing in NY with YAGP “stars” pushed me and felt exciting. I’ve always wanted to dance, but I changed going into my junior year of high school—that’s when I decided dance had to be part of my college.
Christine: I’m chuckling…I always tell parents of little ones, age 4, to put their child in the Excellence Program so they have options in case they decide their “junior year” that they want to pursue dance. This is a great example!
Were you grateful you had outstanding training?
Ashley: Yes. And I focused on what I needed to work on in terms of technique.
Christine: How’s it been through the years balancing homework, social life and dance?
Ashley: It’s hard, but it motivates me. At school, I can’t wait to get to dance, so I get my work done at school or right after so I can dance all night. Knowing I had dance at night, got me through the long days of school.
Christine: I was the same exact way. Do you think you have an advantage over peers at academic school because of your hard work?
Ashley: Yes. A lot of kids are lazy in school and just drift. They have no drive. I can tell when people are focused and have that one special thing going for them– and over 80% don’t have it. Maybe 90%. They may have sports, but they don’t know how to manage their time, and so they end up skipping classes or sport practices.
Christine: Do you think us (CRS) expecting kids to be here, show up, and do their best made a difference?
Christine: Did you ever have to be pushed by your dad? [Note: Ashley’s mother has transitioned.]
Ashley: Yes. Dad would push me when I was 12, 13 yrs old to stay with it. He’d say, “You’re really good at this and this will pay off in the long run so I want you to stick with this.”
I’m really glad he didn’t let me stop—he was wise. He motivated me too and now he doesn’t have to push. I do it myself.
Christine: What would you tell a parent of a toddler or grade schooler thinking of enrolling them in dance?
Ashley: I would say it’s a great way to help them with all aspects of life, it’s not just fun and exercise– there’s a lot more to it; it’s building you as a person too.
Christine: Do you think kids can develop their fullest potential by just going to academic school?
Ashley: You need a balance. Can’t be school, school, school. That would be mentally draining and not develop the other aspects of yourself.
Christine: Do you think dance has made you a happier person compared to non-dancing peers?
Ashley: Yes. Some work hard in school and are constantly stressed. There’s a lot of pressure from their parents to get good grades and the kids come to school grumpy and unmotivated. They are miserable most every day.
Christine: When you auditioned for Butler University’s dance department, what was that like?
Ashley: Scary. Everyone was really, really good. But my focus kicked in. You could feel the tension in the room…hands were shaking. But when I kicked into my focus it calmed me, definitely.
Christine: How did your CRS dance training teach you to focus?
Ashley: Coming to class every day. Taking corrections and using them to help me.
Christine: Have you ever noticed the atmosphere difference between CRS and school?
Ashley: Definitely. Here at the studio it’s calm and the kids here are disciplined and focused and have something going for them. At school it’s all over the place and they don’t know what they want or what they’re good at. They seem lost.
Christine: Does that atmosphere negatively impact kids who are trying in high school?
Ashley: Yes, absolutely. So I’m glad to be at CRS at night to balance it out.
Christine: What age did you know you enjoyed performing onstage?
Ashley: When I was little…always loved it.
Christine: Did you have favorite styles of dance?
Ashley: Ballet and Jazz.
Christine: Which style taught you to persevere?
Christine: Which dance style taught you to not cave in when it seemed impossible?
Christine: How about private lessons?
Ashley: I like the one on one attention which makes me work harder, so I grew faster in all aspects.
Christine: What about your friendships here at CRS?
Ashley: Oh I have lots of close friends. Seeing them every day — it’s like a family.
Christine: What about all the choreography you’d do in grade school on?
Ashley: My cousin Gauri and I still love to do that for Indian parties or for a cancer charity fund raiser.
Christine: Tell us about your future goals.
Ashley: Definitely dance will be in it. Dance has to be in the mix whether I’m in a dance company or teaching.
Christine: Can you speculate what it would have been like dancing for 17 years at a recreational studio instead the pre-pro we have?
Ashley: Here, people take it more seriously even though it’s fun. Recreational studios are sort of “show up and be seen and hang out.”
Christine: Doesn’t sound much different than school.
Ashley: No, very similar.
Christine: Any other messages or thoughts?
Ashley: Never give up. The dance training here will help you in the long run, so don’t let a bad day or mood get in the way. There’s positive reinforcement. Think positively.
Christine: What have you thought of dancing the lead role in the ballet this year?
Ashley: Exciting. A little scary–everyone is watching–but I like the challenge. The partnering has been hard but fun. The team effort of dancing a pas de deux vs a solo has been great.
Christine: What does dance mean to your soul?
Ashley: Ahh, a deep question… just something I love to do. I get antsy if I don’t dance.