Some people express themselves through painting. Others display their emotions through singing. For Jamie Fass (’15), dancing is how she conveys her thoughts and emotions.
For Fass, dancing has always been a huge part of her life. She has been dancing for 11 years at The West London School of Dance where she participates in classic ballet, contemporary, and modern dance. She has also studied tap and jazz in the past.
Dancing is more than just an after-school activity for Fass. “My dream is to [dance] professionally. I want to double major in college in dance and something else,” Fass said. Her dream city to dance would be New York City and she already has some experience there. Over the summer, Fass takes classes at a studio called Steps on Broadway in where she has the opportunity to dance with professionals. “I really like that environment because you see professionals who you have seen on stage in your class, right in front of you,” said Fass.
From the ages of 5 to 12, Fass participated in gymnastics, but chose to quit because of her involvement in dance. While she participated in gymnastics, she was more focused on that, but her love of dance soon grew.“The shape of a gymnast’s body is very different than the shape of a ballerina’s body, and when you are that little, you can mold your body so it’s seen as the time to hunker down and train really hard,” she said.
Not only are the body types very different, but the actual movements are very different as well. “The technical elements are different; for example, the leaps in gymnastics are different than the leaps in ballet and I would confuse them,” Fass said.
Although dance and gymnastics were very different, the two different sports helped each other. “Flexibility-wise and strength, gymnastics helped dance. But, you don’t have to have as much finesse or grace. I would teach my gymnastics friends dance to make them more graceful.”
Fass loves dancing, but she doesn’t believe in competing. “It’s an art, not a sport.” Dancing for the ASL dance team doesn’t appeal to her as well because she thinks its more “showgirl dancing” and doing more tricks as opposed to real artistry.
Fass has gone through her fair share of ups and downs throughout her time dancing. “When I was 11, I broke my big toe and I couldn’t dance for two months and it took four months to get totally back. I also have ankle problems ever since I started dancing. When I was 14, I sprained my ankle and I was kept out of dance for five months.”
Despite these injuries keeping her out, when Fass was 15 she received the lead part in the Snow Scene in The Nutcracker and that gave her a huge confidence boost. Since she was so young and just over coming all the injuries, she didn’t expect to be given that role. It made her realize that, “If I work hard in something, I can accomplish it.”
Not only does Fass love the act of dancing, she also loves the friends she has made and the benefits of it. “I go through a lot with my dance friends. I go through pain and tears and that makes us have a different bond.” Dance has given Fass an appreciation of discipline as well as confidence that she applies to her every day life.
Fass has gained independence through dancing. Since none of her friends at ASL dance, she is different than them and that is an advantage. “It is such an outlet. If I’m stressed and I go to dance, I don’t think about [what I’m stressed about] at all. I couldn’t survive without [dance].”