Where Are They Now?Posted: by Stephanie Aksdal
Some of you may have noticed that we are missing a few of our familiar faces around the studio. Three of our lovely and talented ladies who were members of HAD Conservatory competition group have left Huntington Beach to further their dance training and pursue professional careers. We reached out to these ladies to give us an update on where they are now and how they have been.
I never thought I would leave HAD especially my senior year, but with COVID shutting everything down I figured there was not much for me to keep going. I was planning on going to Hubbard Street’s summer program last year and because it closed I was lucky enough to train at Marin Dance Theater over the summer. I was offered a spot to stay and train with them which prompted me to leave. HAD has always been there for me and supported my goals, I am very fortunate to have the relationship I do with all the teachers and mentors there.
After many years of dancing at HAD, I’m very happy to be furthering my training in the Joffrey Trainee Program in Chicago. I’m loving every second of it and learning so much!
Our curriculum runs the gamut from ballet to contemporary to character. We train from 9:15-4:30 everyday, beginning with a ballet technique class followed by either pointe, contemporary, variations, character, etc. We then rehearse our pieces in the afternoon. We’re currently preparing for a production entitled “Winning Works” and another production entitled “Young Moves”, both of which will be available virtually.
“Winning Works” is a choreographic competition that features works from choreographers of color. Applicants pitch ideas for compositions and if they are chosen, they come to Joffrey to set their dances on us. They hold auditions and cast us to be in their works, and they set the choreography over a two week period. I was thankful to be chosen for a dance entitled “Brushstroke” choreographed by Tsai-Hsi Hsung. The choreographic process was intense; we worked on the piece for five hours everyday, six days a week! The piece is likely the most challenging dance I’ve ever been in, as it’s extremely physically demanding. All this being said, I’ve enjoyed the process so much and I’m looking forward to the production. “Young Moves” is a student choreographic production. Our peers choreograph on us. This has also been a great experience.
I’m so grateful to be here at Joffrey. I love everything from the city of Chicago (even though it’s very cold!) to the faculty to my peers to my classes. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for HAD.
Most of my journey to getting where I’m at is all thanks to HAD. They took me in when I was very young and trained me to where I am now. When I got to an old enough age and decided that I maybe wanted to pursue dance as a career, I was recommended to go and audition for summer intensives. I was lucky enough to attend Marin Dance Theater summer intensive in 2018. I really enjoyed my time there and was invited to stay for the year. But because I was still only 13 at the time, I decided to stay at HAD for longer. Throughout the next year I stayed in connection with MDT and even went back for a week over my spring break. All of the HAD teachers made my love for dance greater and helped me through audition seasons through the next years. I have attended other summer intensives including Houston Ballet which allowed me to gain more experience and knowledge. In 2020 I was supposed to go back to Houston for another summer but because it was canceled due to COVID, I reached out to MDT to see if I would be allowed to train there for the summer. I was again offered to stay for the year and being older I felt that this was the best time for me to gain new perspectives in my training and I knew that MDT was the best place to do this. Thanks to all that HAD has given me I am now able to enhance my training even further