Dance and So Much More at The King Centre!
What does it take to become a dancer? A doctor? Maybe the same things. Research has shown that by using different parts of the brain, each of which complementing the other, students of the arts and the sciences can become anything they want. When most people think of performance artists they imagine a world where emotions and kinetic energy take over. It is more intricate than you may notice. A dancer needs to remember choreography for many different pieces, needs to carefully count, needs to pay attention. There is no room for mistakes or injury may occur. And the balance between dance classes and school work can become tricky, forcing students to plan and set goals. We sat down with Ashley Tetens, a recent graduate of The King Centre for the Performing Arts and Lakeland Regional High School. Ashley graduated summa cum laude and was the salutatorian of her class. She was the captain of her dance team, the vice president of math league, the co-founder of philosophy club, and a member of National Honor Society, and the Dedicated Education to Medicine Club. She also volunteered at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ. Ashley will be attending Johns Hopkins University to major in molecular and cellular biology on a pre-med track. She is also a successful dancer who won many awards and performed annually in “The Nutcracker”, her final goal of dancing the role of Sugar Plum Fairy was realized in her senior year. She plans to continue to dance in college and hopes to become a neurosurgeon one day. There are many students like Ashley who dance, sing, paint or play an instrument and who also study science, mathematics and engineering. Each discipline complements the other in a way that produces well-rounded and successful people. Any child can benefit from a program that marries STEM to art.
- How did you balance your dance classes and rehearsals with your school work?
- Our brains were constantly being pushed to the limit; six hours of school were followed by three to five hours of intense mental and physical exertion at the studio only to be followed by late nights of completing homework. I learned that every minute of my day was a valuable minute to do work; I would read my books for English while walking through the hallways, write papers while stretching for dance, and quiz myself while driving. Study halls and lunch blocks were always packed with work and I sometimes stayed up late or woke up early to complete assignments.
- What valuable things do you believe you have learned in the process of balancing your school work with dance?
- I learned that procrastination was never an option. Even if I had just ten minutes in between classes or before dance, I used them wisely. My fellow dancers and I also had to learn to become incredibly organized. It was sometimes challenging to keep rehearsal schedules and due dates clear, but it taught us how to focus on becoming reliable and dependable students, which will hopefully translate into our professional careers.
- How did dance help you acquire good time management skills?
- I constantly had a book in my hand. If I wasn’t being used in a rehearsal, I would be sitting in the back of class in a split with a chemistry book in my hands. When you’re taking classes that collectively assign three to five hours of homework and have dance from four to nine, not doing homework was never an option.
- So, here’s the big question: Which of the two disciplines is your true passion? Dance or science?
- Both things hold a very special place in my heart. I had always been curious about nature and biology and so I have an innate desire to conduct research and read articles. At the same time, however, I was also constantly moving and dancing even when I was just two years old. I realize now that I’m older just how well the two complement each other; dance showed me how to be confident and how to show myself in the best light, while science allowed me to use those skills to promote my ideas and demonstrate leadership qualities. I think my fellow dancers could also agree that the two complement each other very well.
- Now that you have graduated from The King Centre, what do you look back on and what do you see for your future?
- I think that dance was a huge outlet for me and offered such a wonderful support system. If I ever came in stressed about a test, my teachers and fellow dancers were always so supportive and knew just the right thing to say. The King Centre was and always will be a second home to me, a place without judgement that I can use to express myself and let go of any tension. I look forward to continuing my dance training in the future at college and am beyond grateful for all of the valuable lessons I have learned from dance so far.