Pointe shoes, bobby pins and leotards. There’s music blasting, sweat flying and turns going too fast to count. Chapman’s College of Performing Arts is home to a family of all sorts of dancers. Here are five members of that family and a little about why dancing is such a large part of their life.
Spencer Biggs, a senior dance major, started dancing when he was 15 years old. As a male, he found it difficult to get his start in the industry.
“Being a young guy from the Midwest, dance wasn’t a thing,” Biggs said. “There were very few and far between.”
Biggs was a gymnast first, and eventually, through female gymnasts who were also dancers, transitioned into the aerobics of dance.
“I fell in love with the choreography,” he said. “I was still able to incorporate a lot of my aerobics…I could keep it still masculine.”
After Biggs came out as gay, he believed that he became a stronger dancer.
“I knew who I was and I was being honest with myself,” he said. “It’s so important in dancing to be vulnerable and to show people who you are inside and out.
Senior dance major Courtney Zelter enjoys dancing at Chapman for both the competitiveness and for the bonds she made with other students.
“It’s challenging. Everyone around you is crazy talented,” Zelter wrote. “We are a family here at the dance department.”
Zelter is originally from Vancouver, Canada. She sees little difference between dancing up home in Vancouver versus southern California, the only one really being the audiences.
“The main difference is just the atmosphere,” she wrote. “People here cheer a lot during performances and class.”
Bryn Christoffersen is a sophomore Spanish major with a double minor in dance and kinesiology.
Christoffersen, as a dance minor, takes classes that are also open to non-dance majors. However, this does not stop her from being as involved as possible on campus.
“Any dancing opportunity that I can get, I try to take,” Christoffersen said.
“I am still so lucky to be dancing even though I’m not a major,” she wrote. “Every day I get to dance is an amazing day.”
For Christoffersen, the most difficult thing is auditioning for jobs.
“Jobs are almost always looking for a certain type of person with a certain type of ‘look,’” she wrote.
However, with determination, Christoffersen isn’t planning on giving up anytime soon.
Lindsey Sandri is a sophomore dance major. When it comes to her favorite style of dance, Sandri went with hard-hitting jazz, but isn’t a fan of the question.
“It might be more of a personal thing… You’re really trying to be as diverse throughout all the different styles as possible,” Sandri said. “You don’t want to set limitations on yourself.”
Injuries are a common obstacle in a dancer’s career. For Sandri, the muscles in her hips have been giving her difficulty. She continues to take care of her body and receive help from doctors, as it won’t stop her from dancing.
“It has always been about not letting other people tell me that I can’t do something,” she said. “It makes me want to prove to them I can.”
Freshman Jonah Almanzar is another dance major. What started out as a simple class at his friend’s parents’ studio became his future major.
He was 16 years old when he started dancing, while dancers like Zelter and Christoffersen started when they were 3 years old.
“It was kind of intimidating,” Almanzar said. “I took more classes and spent more time dancing just to try to catch up.”
Almanzar loves to dance because of the physical aspects of the activity and wanting to push his body as far as it can go.
“It’s physically demanding to dance,” he said. “Being able to do certain dance moves is very difficult.”
Dancing at Chapman has been a great experience for Almanzar.
“The teachers become invested in you and your growth as a dancer,” he wrote. “All of the students push each other to work harder and improve.”