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Menes portrays dedication through dance career

For the past 12 years, junior Amanda Menes has dedicated countless hours of her time to dance. She has shown a determination to succeed by attending rehearsals 5 days a week for hours at a time. Now she has an opportunity to showcase the skills she has learned, and family and friends of Menes are encouraged to attend.

Menes is scheduled to perform in a dance showcase at the Paul Shaghoian Concert Hall, Feb. 11. There are two performances, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.. At this event a group of elite dancers from the Dance Studio of Fresno and the Dance Studio 2 perform the routines that they compete with at competitions throughout the U.S..

This event showcases dancers from a variety of age groups, ranging anywhere from 6-year-old dancers to high school seniors. Dance routines display a variety of genres, including ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop and tap. Menes has performed in this event previously in 2011; this will be her second time participating in the event.

Menes looks forward to performing in this event due to the different atmosphere that it offers. She believes that her routines this year will improve compared to her performances last year.

“My previous performances haven’t been my strongest, but they are good warm-ups and are good practice on stage before competitions,” Menes said. “I?m very excited to perform in the showcase this year. I get to show family and friends what I love to do and what I spend so much time on. It?s a nice way to showcase routines in a laid-back atmosphere without the hectic vibe of a competition.”

To prepare for the showcase Menes had been attending long rehearsals every Friday and Saturday in addition to her two-hour rehearsals during the week. Menes admits that she often feels overwhelmed with her busy schedule, but her love of dancing makes it worth the work.

“Attending dance classes can be very time consuming,” Menes said. “It takes up homework time and can get tiring. When I get to dance class, I usually feel tired because it’s at the end of the day. Even though I’m usually worn out, I always end up enjoying myself after I’m warmed up.”

The showcase allows the dancers to perform in a variety of ways, including solos, duets, trios, small groups, large groups, lines and productions. Menes will be performing in 5 different groups in the showcase: a jazz trio, a hip-hop production, a large contemporary group, a large lyrical group and a small contemporary group. She enjoys performing in large groups because it gives her the opportunity to act out stories and work with others.

“I love being in different groups because I get to play different roles, display various abilities and dance out stories,” Menes said. “This year I am in more routines and really have to commit myself to my character and the story of each dance. When I’m on stage, it’s fun to portray my character and see how the other dancers are showing off their characters. We feed off each other’s energy and intensity.”

Menes admits that she often feels anxious before she performs, but she gets past her anxiety by talking to other performers.

“Before a performance I get a bit nervous,” Menes said. “I’ve learned that when I watch the group before me, I start to worry. To get past my nerves, we huddle as a team and tell each other to get into character. That gets me excited to show the audience what I can do.”

Season Cavalla-Cooper, Menes’ dance instructor at the Dance Studio 2, believes Menes’ dedication to dance makes her stand out among others as a leader.

“I would describe Mandy as a hard-working and dedicated young lady,” Cavalla-Cooper said. “It is wonderful to have her as a student; I can always count on her to be at practices and do what she’s supposed to do. She’s a real team leader, and I know I can count on her to get her job done. I always expect high things from her.”

Cavalla-Cooper thinks Menes has improved very fast over the years, becoming a great dancer in a short amount of time. She expects Menes to perform very well at the Feb. 11 showcase.

“Mandy has improved so much; she’s been dancing with me since she was young, but she’s only been seriously training for the last four years,” Cavalla-Cooper said. “I have some students who have been training with me for 7 years, but they don’t look the way Mandy looks. In jazz and ballet, she has the skills of students who has been dancing for 6-8 years even though she’s only been dancing for 4. She works extremely hard, and she’s a very emotional dancer. I think she’s going to be fabulous in the showcase.”

Freshman Olivia Quebe attended the same dance studio as Menes last year and has been taking dance lessons through the Dance Studio for 9 years. Though the two had seen each other at school, their dance lessons really allowed them to connect. Quebe believes Menes is very talented at what she does and thinks that she has improved over the years.

“Mandy is so dedicated to her dance,” Quebe said. “She does it almost every day of the week and really puts a lot of hard work into it. Her hard work definitely pays off; she’s an amazing dancer. I think she’s definitely improved her technique and many little things. I definitely think her physique is much better than it was.”

For more features, read the Feb. 6 article, Partnership benefits campus, special education students.

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