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Athlete of the Month – Sophomore Aurora Vaughn, Prima Ballerina

The Oracle: How and when did you start dancing?

Aurora Vaughan: I started dancing when I was three years old, mostly because my sister was in dance and I wanted to be exactly like her. I got asked to be on my studio’s competition team when I was seven years old and I’ve been dancing since then. 

TO: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from dancing?

AV: I have learned that in order for you to get something you want, you really have to work for it. In dance, you will never be the best. There are so many people with the same passion and drive as you and there are some with more. Not only do you have to accept that but you have to embrace it. I think dance has helped me stop trying to copy other people and it has helped me find my own style of movement.

TO: What is the most challenging part of dance?

AV: Personally, I think it was very hard for me to get over the fact that dance takes up my life. I can’t hang out with my school friends as much as I’d like, but I think that I’ve become okay with that. I love my friends, and I love dance. Both are part of my life, and I’ve just had to find the balance between the two.

TO: What is a challenge that you’ve overcome?

AV: I was at a studio where the environment and the people weren’t right for me. I was probably about two weeks away from quitting, but my old teacher emailed me and said, “I want you to come take some classes at my new studio.” I was like, “Of course not. I’m about to quit,” but she convinced me. And I don’t know how, but I fell in love with it again. I’m happy now—new studio, new people. It’s awesome.

TO: Why is emotion important in dance?

AV: If you have emotion and the audience feels something, I think that counts as a successful performance. There are three walls on a stage: there’s the back, the left and the right. The fourth wall is technically the wall in front of the audience. If you can break that fourth wall with your emotions and your acting, I’d consider it a successful performance.

TO: What do you have to say to people who think that dance isn’t a real sport?

GM: I’ve heard that a lot. I would say, “What do almost all NFL players do to improve agility? They take ballet. Come to a class and see how you do.” I dance 15 to 20 hours a week. It’s great cardio exercise and I feel like an athlete when I’m practicing.

TO: How is dance different from other sports?

AV: If in soccer or football people take action pictures of you and your face is all twisted and you have your tongue sticking out, then people are like, “Oh, you’re so cool.” But if you do that in dance, people usually say, “What are you doing?” You have to be athletic and strong but look good at the same time.

TO: What are your future plans regarding dance?

AV: I’ve been auditioning for many summer programs this month. As far as college goes, I’d like to go to college. Some professional dancers don’t, but you’d have to be a prodigy. I’m considering a Bachelor in Fine Arts in commercial dance, which is what my sister is doing right now, or just a ballet major. It really depends. I’m open to options.

­—Compiled by Anyi Cheng

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