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Artistic aspirations propel sophomore (VIDEO)

While girls attend dance classes at a young age for fun, not many are willing to devote their time to dance for five days a week with three classes per day. For sophomore Amanda Menes, dancing has been a passion for the last 11 years.

She is willing to make sacrifices in order to become a professional dancer, and is currently taking dance classes in ballet, jazz, lyrical and hip-hop.

Menes was first introduced to dance at the age of three by her parents. They believed it was a good way for her to exercise and learn about teamwork through interactions with others. Menes’s parents did not think that she would keep up with the activity for such long time, and gave her an option to quit.

“When I moved here to Fresno from Kentucky in kindergarten, I was going to quit dance,” Menes said. “But one of my family friends encouraged me to take classes with her. After a year of training, I started doing competitive dancing. Now, I can’t even think about stopping because I recognized that if I keep up with it I can be ten times better than where I am now and I never want to give up on something I started.”

Ever since Menes started dancing, it compelled her. She loves expressing her emotions through dance and feeling the connection between music and herself, she says.

“What I like about dance is that it’s a way to express yourself in a way words can’t,” Menes said. “Your expression can be anything, whether it is happiness, anger or sadness; dance helps show that to the world. I just have this connection with music and movement that makes me let go, because one move can change anything.”

Ever since Menes joined a dancing team competitively, she has been required to perform challenging jumps and dance moves. As a result, she has sustained several injuries over the course of her career.

“In ninth grade, when I was in a more advanced class, I had to dance barefoot,” Menes said. “I was not used to it and got shin splints as a result. I also had tendinitis from jumping and not landing correctly. Besides the major injuries, I have a few bruises from falling from turns and dancing on the ground a lot.”

Ever since dancing at the Dance Studio 2, Menes has been coached by Season Cavalla-Cooper and Rachelle Boles who helped correct techniques like her leg line and turnout. Since then Menes’ form has improved and injuries have subsided.

Years of dancing has taught Menes other valuable skills other than the ability itself. She learned how to listen to others and handle constructive criticism. She also realized that her actions and hard work impact not only her, but her entire team.

“In a class, when a teacher corrects us on something, it is suggested that we take it,” Menes said. “Also, I’ve learned how to be a good teammate. When you are performing, you have to put in your effort so everyone does well and you look united.”

Dance is a huge part of Menes’s life, which sometimes causes her to miss out on some of the activities that most teens do, such as going out with friends.

“Missing out on events can be disappointing,” Menes said. “But I’ve learned that this is my ‘job’ and I have to be committed to it. The outcome is definitely worth it because I cannot have fun, goof around and expect to be a good dancer.”

Sophomore Sarah Lim says that Menes’s positive attitude motivates and encourages those around her. Whenever she wants to give up on something, she looks at Menes as an inspiration.

“I think that Amanda is a perfect example of someone who follows their dream,” Lim said. “Her dedication for dance really inspires me to strive harder and give 100 percent in everything I do.”

According to sophomore Mikayla Messer, a close friend, Menes is a talented individual who does not let anything discourage her, no matter what she is going through.

“Not only is she talented but she also has a motivated personality,” Messer said. “No matter how hard things get as far as dancing she always keeps her head up.”

Support from Menes’s parents has helped her over the years. Her mother, Jeanelle, says she is proud of her daughter because she shows commitment and diligence.

“It’s a lot of work, but she spends her time actively, rather than doing something wasteful,” Jeanelle said. “She’s demonstrated what she learned such as sacrifice, dedication and teamwork. She dedicates dance into her busy schedule, and she is very willing to sacrifice time for what she loves to do. I know that not a lot of teens her age are willing to do that. So I am proud of her for being not only a dedicated dancer, but a good student as well.”

When she graduates in three years, Menes hopes to attend The Julliard School, where she wants to minor in choreography and major in marketing and sales. Eventually, Menes aims to open her own dance studio.

“I have been dancing since I was a little girl, so I am definitely looking forward to teaching young students one day,” Menes said. “I know that in order for that to happen, I need to work extremely hard, so I will not give up until I reach my goal. After high school, I will try to get into Juilliard. It’s been my dream college for a long time. I would love to take dance and choreography to the next level in college.”

For more features on students, read the Oct. 4 article
Stobbe sustains podcast feature.

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