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Vanessa Luna ’19: on the benefits of dancing as a pastime
At the age of three, Vanessa Luna ‘19 was put into dance classes solely as a means of getting a little exercise. Over the past 14 years, however, dance has helped her to grow in countless ways and has become an indispensable part of her lifestyle.
“When I started, it was what they call a combo class: a little ballet, a little bit of tap,” Luna shared. “I joined the competition team around fourth grade and ever since then I’ve been a competitive dancer in group numbers and I’m doing my first solo this year.”
Luna competes with her team twice a year in and around the Los Angeles area and has earned many high scoring performances. One of her bigger accomplishments was winning first place in a group competition, yet she left early and missed the awards ceremony, which she greatly regrets.
Because competition dance uses a point system, “you aren’t competing directly against [your opponent], you are also competing against yourself,” Luna explained. While this is incredibly helpful for personal growth, whoever has the highest points still wins.
Despite Luna’s love for dance itself, she notices a lack of diversity: “When I go to competitions, I see a lot of kids who don’t look like me, and I find that a little sad sometimes because I want to show the talent of every race.”
“When I go to competitions, I see a lot of kids who don’t look like me, and I find that a little sad sometimes because I want to show the talent of every race.”
She also finds it difficult to have good time management with the pressure dance imposes on her lifestyle. “I would recommend it recreationally so that you don’t feel stressed—like you have to be there all the time,” she added. “That’s one thing I struggle with: I might have dance, but I really need to study for government.”
“I don’t have a ‘Dance Moms’ experience,” she joked. “Our moms are pretty nice to each other. I mean we always have some feuds sometimes, but not as many tears as ‘Dance Moms.’”
Overall, Luna appreciates the sisterhood that accompanies dance, as well as how it affects many components of her lifestyle and her personality.
“It’s a really nice way to show expression and art,” she said. “And it’s fun recreationally—no stress—as a healthy way to stay active.
“It has made me very outgoing,” Luna concluded. “I love performing and dance definitely had a huge part in that. I’m not afraid to volunteer for a dance battle or public speaking. Overall, I’m pretty comfortable with what dance has done and it’s given me so much self-confidence.”