Erika Hebron is our first “Where are They Shining Now?” feature! We reached out to her so she can share some advice and you can see where in the professional dance world you could end up! Erika is in the prime of her career which is already quite broad. She grew up doing high profile pageants which led her to compete as the 2010 Miss Missouri in, yes, the infamous Miss America Scholarship Pageant, teaching/choreographing for studios and dance teams alike, and dancing on the Broadway stage. You may have seen her in your city performing tracks in both West Side Story On Tour and An American in Paris on Tour. Erika is a Jane of all trades when it comes to performance. We can’t directly relate her successes thus far to Spotlight, but we can’t deny the connection with how bright she is shining. Keep reading to get some professional insight from her perspective and some memories from Spotlight!
What did you learn form the competition world that you have applied to your professional career?
There are so many valuable tools that I learned from the competition world. I learned the importance teamwork, which is so important as a dancer in the musical theater world that is typically part of an ensemble. I was pushed to be a versatile performer, performing in groups that were of all styles from classical ballet, tap, and even acrobatics. I learned how to take and apply corrections from both my teachers and from the critique tapes (yes cassette tapes, I’m dating myself) we received to improve. My studio also had a system similar to a number line that allowed us to learn how to properly space our dances. Our studio would also select understudies for all of the dances, and you would learn every part in a dance including choreography and blocking and you would fill in if a dancer was sick or unable to attend the event. I think the ability to quickly assimilate material and multi track dances is what eventually led me to be a fantastic swing and dance captain!
The other thing you gain from the competition world is the ability to perform. There is something to be said for getting on stage as a young dancer and honing the skills to effectively communicate to different audiences. It’s something you can’t get from dancing in a studio or even at a recital. I’m thankful for my competition background, because I have to be able to perform in an audition setting to book work and without having that experience I wouldn’t be near as successful.
Tell us about your favorite competition memory:
I used to always compete acrobatics solos since I actually started off as a gymnast. Eventually around age 10 or 11, I did a tap solo. I was so nervous to compete it at a because there were over 20 people in my age category and at the time they would rank you first place to last place and after a certain number you received a green honorable mention ribbon. I remember getting 11th place in my category and being ecstatic that I even placed that it felt like I won. It really allowed me to know that all of my hard work really paid off and made me more determined to improve. The funniest memory that I have is one time, I performed a tap solo and my tap was a little too loose and flung off and slid right under the judges table. I didn’t even miss a beat but it was super embarrassing when I had to go pick up my tap after it was over. At least it didn’t hit any one in the face.
Any specific Spotlight memories?
Our studio first attended Spotlight my junior and senior years in high school. They made it a requirement to participate in the Dance Down and I had no idea what to expect. I had never participated in anything like that but I learned that I really thrived in an audition scenario and I definitely placed, maybe even won. It was that long ago.
Advice for current competitors who are thinking about dancing as a career in the future:
Everyone says it but it’s not about the trophies, the rhinestones on your costume, or the number of pirouettes you can do. As you can see in my previous memories, you carry with you the experiences, friends, and life lessons not necessarily the placement you received on a certain day by one panel of judges. It’s wonderful to be recognized, but its the training and hours you spend at the studio that help set you up for success at both competitions and in the professional world. You aren’t going to list the titles you received on your professional resume and in an audition it doesn’t matter if someone you beat time after time at a competition is dancing next to you, a casting director or choreographer only sees what you have to offer in that moment. Train hard, be respectful and humble, and enjoy the ride. I’m so thankful to be where I am today and able to make living doing what I love.
Be sure to visit www.erikahebron.com to keep up with where she shines next!