Senior Lizzie Rumpz plans to pursue her dreams in dance beyond high school. Statistics show she’ll face fierce competition to succeed. By Natasha Ringnalda

Students are driven by their passion for dance with many planning to continue the endeavor as a professional career

By Anna-Maria Thalassinos ’14

“The moment they call your name is probably the most nerve-wracking thing,” senior Lizzie Rumpz said. “My palms get automatically sweaty, and I run my dance through my head 10 times fast. As soon as I get out of the wings, the personality is on and I’m in dance mode. The mixture of the costume, lights, music, audience, adrenaline and my love for dance combine into one.”

Dancing is a passion for Rumpz, who lives and breathes the world of dance, practicing a wide variety of styles such as ballet, pointe, jazz, tap and modern at Marjorie Jones School of Ballet. She spends hours mastering each step in order to perform with poise and precision. Enduring the physical pain of overstretched muscles and crushed toes, she seeks the constructive criticism of her instructors.

Rumpz is not alone; dancers across the nation go to extremes to excel in their passion. Entering the collegiate and professional world of dance is no easy feat. Despite the fierce competition among performers and the need for sacrifices in their daily lives, young dancers maintain their love for the artistic and athletic endeavor.

Making Sacrifices

With consistent practice and rehearsals lasting for hours, junior Tanvi Kumar rarely has any spare time when practicing ballet, tap, jazz and modern dance. Making space for other activities is difficult, and sometimes they are put off and even forgotten. Other events that most adolescents enjoy are missed.

Dancing for the past 10 years for five nights a week also at Marjorie Jones School of Ballet, Kumar said she has had to make difficult choices to keep dance a priority.

“I sacrifice school sometimes—and definitely my music and other stuff—for dance,” she said. “Also a lot of friendships are given up. I don’t have time to hang out with people who don’t dance, only with a few exceptions.”

As a ballet dancer at Columbus Dance Theatre, junior Gabriella Nicolosi said she has put dance over other activities as well.

“Dance prevents me from doing any school sports, because they are at the same time after school,” Nicolosi said. “I would have also loved to be involved with the musical and other theater events, but that would also be impossible with my dance schedule.”

Sacrificing time that could be spent with friends and family, sophomore Kimmy Sullivan, who has been dancing for 10 years with seven different types of dance at Bartelt Dancers, has also given up a sport.

“When I was in sixth grade I took one year off to do competitive gymnastics,” she said. “When I came back to dance I decided to sacrifice gymnastics altogether, because it would be impossible to continue both at once.”

Dancing every single day, Rumpz doesn’t regret missing out on any of these activities.

“My [biggest] pet peeve is when people ask me why I’m always at dance, or ask me why I can’t skip it every once in awhile,” Rumpz said. “I think it’s pretty obvious: when I’m at dance is when I’m happiest.”

Going Pro

Although many dancers are dedicated to performing, only a select few will succeed in the professional world due to the intense competition they must face.

In its Occupational Outlook Handbook, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that those looking for jobs in this area “are expected to face intense competition for jobs because there are many more people who want to become professional dancers and choreographers than there are positions available.”

Regardless of the statistics, aspiring dancers continue to hold high hopes for pursuing dance at least through college, and for some, to create professional careers.

Kumar hopes to continue dance in college but not as a profession.

“I am going to dance through college, probably as a minor, but not professionally. I prefer to think of it as something I love doing, but as more of a hobby,” she said. “I wouldn’t do it professionally because once I start thinking of it as a job, then it starts weighing me down. I would rather use it as a form of stress relief.”

Only a sophomore, Sullivan plans to continue taking dance classes and competing until graduating high school, and after that minor in dance in college, with the rest of the future a little hazy.

“I have considered dancing professionally before, but I think it would be very difficult to pursue such a career and be successful because it takes a lot of talent to make it in the world of dance,” Sullivan said. “But even so, it’s still an option for me, especially considering the amount of time I put into dance on a regular basis. I think being a dance instructor would be a spectacular career.”

Both Nicolosi and Rumpz hope to continue to revolve their lives around dance.

After college, Rumpz aspires to go into the field of dance by joining a professional company.

“My dream is to join a company and be able to perform, which is one of my favorite things,” Rumpz said. “Professional dance is my goal and my dream career…While it doesn’t pay that much, I believe life is too short to just always have money on the mind. While that is very important, so is doing something you love and making my career and life worthwhile. ”

Going into the professional world of dance requires meeting a variety of different people. Rumpz believes it is sometimes hard to distinguish between those who care and those who take advantage of people for their own success.

“You just have to know who you want to involve yourself in and make sure they are ‘true’ friends, and don’t even associate with rude or overly-competitive people,” Rumpz said.

Despite big aspirations, the realities of professional dance make accomplishing dreams harder. Nicolosi has a backup plan in case professional dance doesn’t work out for her.

“I will double major in college: dance, and then something to do with sports medicine probably,” Nicolosi said.

Each dancer’s plan for their future is different, but they are all distinguished by their passion for the art.

“Dance has been my whole life,” Rumpz said. “I can’t even imagine a world without it.”