Steps to Success: Dancer maps her passion to perform

By: Annebeth Ahrenholz

SSommertanding in position behind the performance curtain, the dancers await a full audience on the other side as they stand completely silent, eagerly waiting in excitement for the curtain to open. For junior dancer Sommer Danielsen, the adrenaline rush pumps through her veins as the curtain finally opens and the music starts playing. This is exactly what she was born to do. Perform.

The choreography of Danielsen’s life goes far beyond the corners of dance. Ever since the day she stepped foot into a dance studio, she has had big dreams and lets nothing stand in her way of accomplishing them. “I saw myself as a prima ballerina, but when I actually started to dance, my dream turned into being able to execute well and being able to perform in any kind of way or style. It was more than just ballet to me.”

Seven years ago, a friend brought her to the dance studio, and after attending the dance class, Danielsen immediately fell in love with dance and hasn’t stopped pursuing it since that day. “I was inspired by the amount of impact you can make on one person by performing. I love how others can react to it and how you can convey something that you couldn’t say in words.”

Danielsen’s love for dancing started right away, but her passion developed for it more and more as time went on and as she realized what an impact she was making. “I didn’t realize fully what it was that made me love it so much until I was older. I could kind of sense that feeling of being connected to someone else through it, but at the same time it was mostly just fun for me. The marker point for when I started to realize why I loved it so much was at my first competition, at age 12,” she said. “I instantly fell in love with it, but my passion got deeper as I got older because it started to mean more. It definitely became an outlet among other things.”

Danielsen started out going with her friend to classes for a few years. She was involved in ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical dance classes. She deeply enjoyed what she was doing but wasn’t completely satisfied with the studio she was in. Her studio at that time offered only certain dance classes, so four years after attending her first dance class, she switched to a new dance studio and went from going to nine hours of dance a week to 30.

Today, Danielsen takes dance classes for jazz, ballet, lyrical/contemporary and hip-hop, and she is also a choreographer’s assistant at Fusion dance studio. She is also a member of the CFHS dance team and helps assist younger dance classes at her studio.

“My favorite type of dance is jazz. It’s a pretty broad genre. It’s always evolving at a faster pace than other genres or styles.”

Her schedule is completely full every day, with hours of dance every single week. Being a member of the high school dance team has added even more hours of dance onto Danielsen’s schedule, but it is all completely worth it to her. “It has forced me to choose between opportunities, giving up on social time and class time at the studio, but I love it.”

Managing school along with a social life and everything else that belongs in a regular teenager’s life during 30 hours of dance a week is pretty crazy. So the question becomes, how can one person manage all of that? Danielsen turns to her God and relies on him spiritually to give her the strength she needs to reach all of many goals.

“I rely on God a lot to physically get me through every day; otherwise, I would be a walking mess. The people you’re around are in the same boat as you.They are also teaching or dancing, so they understand. You also make really good friends. As long as you stay self-disciplined, it’s doable.”

Another strategy Danielsen employs to stay focused is with a spreadsheet she has made for every minute of every day. “I got the idea from an older dancer who is going into it professionally. My spreadsheet is planned out by the minute of the day, allowing myself time for homework, dance classes and writing in ways for me not to get distracted. I understand that some people see it as excessive, but I have come to realize that there is no other way for me to function.”

Three years ago, Danielsen’s passion for dancing also became an outlet for her to express her grief when her grandma died. It was immensely hard on her. “I looked forward to going to class each week. Putting my emotions into movement really helped me move forward.”

Today Danielsen’s love for dance is as strong as ever. She is thankful that she has a talent that is taking her to amazing places and getting her through the hardships of life. It is something that she will forever have a passion for and wishes to pursue professionally. Danielsen plans to major in dance in college and find a role afterward. “My dream is to be in a dance company that travels and performs for as long as my body will let me.”

Danielsen’s determined, compassionate love for dance and joy of life has gotten her this far already, and she continues daily to pursue her dreams of dancing out from behind the curtain.

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