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Senior Natalie Fernandi’s journey into the dance lifestyle

Maeve Gallagher, Staff Reporter
Originally published October 27, 2014

Madeline ManaloSenior Natalie Fernandi has been dancing for 14 years and hopes to continue through college.

Madeline Manalo

Senior Natalie Fernandi has been dancing for 14 years and hopes to continue through college.

Growing up in a world where self image is a main insecurity for teens, ballet is not a beacon of hope. Confidence can be tattered greatly from standing in front of a mirror all day, as dancers criticize their bodies with each wrong movement.

The key to our mindset usually lies in our childhood, whether it’s the common dream of a young child becoming a ballerina or the carelessness each child experiences until they grow up. For many, that dream is crushed when we start attending school. But for senior Natalie Fernandi, her dream never vanished.

After Fernandi’s six hour school day she heads to Dance Fremont, a dance studio which teaches a comprehensive curriculum of precise technical skills within modern dance and ballet.

“I am not a competitive person,” Fernandi said. “I could never compete in school sports because I was generally just not interested.”

Although as a young dancer Fernandi has not experienced competition, the ballet and modern dance profession is very aggressive.

“Most companies are looking for a specific thing, and if you don’t have it, it’s not something you can change,” Fernandi said.

The harsh reality of pursuing ballet as a profession has hit many of the young dancers attending Dance Fremont. “Dance is very competitive and cutthroat,” junior Amanda Munro said, a fellow dancer at Dance Fremont.

Dancers in the curriculum dedicate a great amount of time to their classes.

Throughout a normal week Fernandi practices both ballet and modern dance, along with pointe, a dance that requires a special type of flat toed shoe.

“I spend about 16 to 21 hours during the school week in class,” Fernandi said. “I have gotten better at balancing, but I would like to be more involved in choir, and maybe be in a school play. But for me, dance always comes first.” Fernandi takes on multiple AP classes, is in BioTech, and does extracurricular activities including National Honor Society and SLAM Club.

During the summer, Fernandi participates with other talented dancers in what they call “intensives.” Summer intensives are a few weeks long, in which all the dancers have a nine hour class, six days a week.

“There have been a lot of things I’ve had to say no to,” Fernandi said. “[They’re] impossible because I have to dance year round.”

Although dancing has always been a dream to Fernandi, she seeks to pursue other career paths. “I’m looking at colleges that both have good educational programs and good dance programs because I want to double major in dance and some kind of science, that way I can decide later,” Fernandi said. “I wouldn’t be able to choose now.”

From Dec. 12-14 Fernandi and the other performers within her dance studio will be in “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,”which Fernandi has been performing in for ten years. She was cast as the Paper Ballerina, by far the biggest part in the show.

Auditions are held at the end of September and each Dance Fremont attendee is encouraged to try out. As the show nears, dancers fear failure and find exhaustion as a key emotion.

The stress in auditioning also brings out the insecurities of each dancer. The high standards each dancer is expected to meet with their body type easily creates a negative environment for each production withheld.

“Dancing sometimes makes me feel horrible about my body,” Fernandi said. “But in the end, I am thankful because without my body, I couldn’t dance.”

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Senior Natalie Fernandi’s journey into the dance lifestyle