All of the members of Blind Brook High School’s Dance Team have participated or are currently in a dancing program. Out of school experience has proved to not only enhance the quality of the team, but the quality of the individual dancer.
Samantha DeSanctis, a competitor at Breaking Grounds Dance Center and current senior at Blind Brook High School, dances, on average, ten hours per week. A large amount of her time is spent dancing while also having to juggle schoolwork, college applications, clubs, school sports, friends, and family. When asked about her weekly schedule as a competitive dancer, DeSanctis stated, “My schedule is always really busy and I always have a lot to do but I enjoy it in a way. It takes an hour to get back and forth from my dance studio. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays after school I go for two to three hours. Every Saturday I also wake up early and get home around two, so my week is pretty hectic.” She also mentioned the difficulty of not being acknowledged by the school as being an athlete, even though her physical activity is equivalent to many on Blind Brook varsity teams. “Even though I dance so many hours and even sign a contract with my studio to keep fit throughout the year, I am unable to take advantage of the senior exemption from gym. It’s annoying because I could be catching up on work during that free period. I am staying active but am not rewarded like other students because I’m too busy with dance to play varsity sports each season.”
According to a study from the University of Michigan, the average U.S. teen spends twenty hours a week on homework, not counting the time spent during school. With the average BBHS dancer spending eight hours per week out of school dancing, it is almost expected that these students will struggle to find time for schoolwork, let alone other conflicts. Junior Julia Sohn dances at City Center in White Plains and struggles with balancing her demanding dance schedule, school, and social life. “I dance around five hours per week, and on Fridays I am in the studio from 6:45 to 8:00 which often conflicts with sweet sixteens and parties.” Individuals such as Jessica Gallagher, however, often manage to find the balance between dancing, school, and other commitments. “While I do dance a lot, it is really important that I plan ahead to make sure I get all my work done on time. If I plan ahead I usually have enough time for dance, school, and friends.” Jessica is a junior at Blind Brook and dances hip-hop, jazz, and ballet at Breaking Grounds Dance Center.
While struggles definitely come hand in hand with being a competitive dancer, there are many great opportunities and accomplishments that often arise from the sport. Last March, Julie Dellorusso, also a current junior, along with Gallagher, Sohn, and many other dancers performed during half time at a New York Knicks Game in Madison Square Garden. Dellorusso described it to be “one of the coolest experiences in my dancing career”. Sohn agreed and stated that, “Dancing at the Garden has been the best experience by far and I hope to perform there again this basketball season.” Lincoln Center is another iconic venue that Blind Brook students such as DeSanctis have performed at in the past. “I was 10 when I performed there for the first time. I was so nervous but looking back I’m really proud that I was able to dance there at such a young age.”
What differentiates these dancers from other athletes at BBHS is their passion and commitment for the sport despite their lack of recognition. “I always tell people that I don’t just dance to put it on my college application” says DeSanctis, “…It has taught me so much about myself, I just love it. I wouldn’t dedicate the time and energy I do if I didn’t.” It is imperative to begin highlighting the efforts of all students inside and out of the district, in order to further understand the lives of the students that make up the Blind Brook community.