Shine On : Dance Comp Life Blog – Sam Nelson 01
Next up to the stage It’s me, Sam Nelson! I’m so excited to be part of the Spotlight team! For my first blog post I’d like to share a little about me, my life, and of course…DANCE!
I’m 17 years old and from the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin, Texas! Growing up in Austin has been a wonderful experience. There is so much to see and do. Dance, music, culture, sports, arts, hiking, and of course BBQ! I like listening to many different types of music, especially things I can create to. When I’m not dancing I like to hang out with my friends, work out, explore our area, and take pictures. At home during my downtime I spend time with my family and 2 dogs. I like to be adventurous and try new things to eat. BBQ, pizza, and Tex-Mex are my favorite! Out of all the seasons I enjoy Summer the most because I have more free time and I love going to the beach!
I have been dancing for 6 years and I can’t imagine doing anything else. It has become an integral part of who I am. As a competitive dancer I’m always looking for ways to improve my technique and further my training. But I didn’t start out in dance. When I was younger I played baseball, basketball, tennis and football. Although I enjoyed being on teams with my friends and appreciate those experiences, I wasn’t passionate about pursuing those activities. I began playing the piano and drums and found a love for music. During this time I also spent several years figure skating and taking gymnastics. Connecting the music with the movement was very intriguing to me.
My dance journey started when I was 10 and a family friend suggested I try a boys’ hip hop class. I still remember coming home so excited after my very first dance class. After just one class I was hooked! I had found my passion! I started taking classes in every dance style, joined a competitive dance team, and attended dance conventions regularly. Attending dance competitions taught me how to win gracefully, lose with dignity, be part of a team, and most importantly, cheer others on. As Joe Tremaine says “dance training is life training.”
Since then I’ve had the opportunity to train and work with many of the top choreographers in the industry. I’ve received scholarships that have enabled me to get additional training. I’ve also been fortunate to tour with and assist 5 different national dance conventions. Traveling to cities all over the country working with professional choreographers, learning behind the scenes skills, and meeting other dancers who share my passion has been an incredible experience!
A couple years ago I began experimenting with self choreography. I wanted to dig deeper into myself and find my own artistry. The choreographers I have worked with have inspired me to figure out who I am as a dancer and pursue my passion. I love the hard work and challenge when they push me to do my very best. I have won several regional and 2 national titles with my self choreographed solos! I’ve also been honored to choreograph solos for other people. It’s an amazing feeling to see someone give life to my work on stage!
One of my biggest inspirations is Fred Astaire. Early on in his career he went to an audition but didn’t end up getting the part. He was told he “Can’t sing, Can’t act…Can dance a little.” Fred believed in himself and his passion. He didn’t give up. That rejection inspired him to try even harder to make his dreams come true. And he inspires me because I know if you believe in yourself anything is possible. He also said, “Do it big, do it right, and do it with style.” I think of this every time I take the stage or have an audition.
Through my experiences in the pre-professional dance world, I’ve learned many lessons that not only apply to dance but can be used in every aspect in my life. It’s so important to be confident enough with your ability to perform so you can allow yourself to share your love for dance with others. Confidence is a personal journey. Everyone’s path is different and that’s what makes it so beautiful. Dance has been my path to self confidence for the past 6 years and I’m truly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to let go, live in the moment, and dance like nobody’s watching. You are special in your own way and when you are confident enough to let it show, you will feel good about yourself and inspire others to do the same.
I have also learned many dance life hacks I would love to share with my readers! Always keep a tennis ball in your dance bag to roll out any sore muscles and to help you warm up quickly before a class or a performance. During water breaks always sip your water through a straw. It will prevent you from drinking so much water that your muscles start to tighten up, but still keep you hydrated. When taking a class that you are not as confident in, for me this would be hip-hop, I put on my hip hop gear and pretend I am the best hip-hop dancer ever. I’ve found that the best way to overcome embarrassment or awkwardness is by owning it, not worrying about what other people might be thinking, and just having fun! Another way to improve on a specific style would be to listen and improv to that genre of music.
The more you explore movement on your own and find your own style, the more confident you will be in class, on stage, and in auditions. My last dancer life hack would be to record yourself dancing on your own to revisit material later and correct your mistakes. Whether it be improv, your solo, or a group dance, if you watch the recording of yourself, you can spot to technical errors, mistakes in the choreography, and other things that you can fix so you will improve each time you take the stage.
I’m so excited to be a Shine On blog writer for Spotlight Dance Cup! I’m looking forward to sharing more of my experiences with you as we take this dance journey together.
Until next time…