Meredith Miller 16 ~ Darryl Sneed Memorial Scholarship
When I was four years old, my mom took me to my first dance class. I immediately fell in love with dancing and knew that it was what I wanted to do. After Kindergarten, I was not satisfied with the amount of dance classes I was attending. At the studio I was enrolled at, I was only allowed to take two classes a week at my age. I was so frustrated because I just wanted more! I wanted to dance all the time, all day every day. Since then, I have never stopped dancing. It's what I love, and what I will always love to do.
I participated in competition dance from when I was 10 years old until I was 15 years old. I recently broke away from the dance competition world because I realized that I was not growing as a dancer. I received strong training during the early part of my dance training. I trained heavily in jazz, contemporary, and tap and scored very well with my solos at many competitions. I specifically fell in love with contemporary dance. I love the free-ness and creativity of movement in contemporary dance. When I was 15, I received the title of Miss Crowdpleasers at Crowd Pleasers Dance Competition. Although these awards were very rewarding, I realized that there was more to experience in the dance world. Many of my instructors told me that I needed stronger ballet technique. Lots of people don't realize that ballet is the backbone of all styles of dance. I realized that I wanted to be exposed to stronger training in classical ballet in order to continue to grow in my contemporary technique.
Although I had received ballet training in my younger years of dancing, I had never been exposed to true classical ballet. To focus on this foundation, I auditioned for the Joffrey Ballet summer intensive in New York City. I got accepted into the intensive and attended Joffrey's two week intensive. I was amazed at the training I received. I couldn't believe that I had never experienced that high quality of training in the beautiful art of ballet. I was so thankful for the opportunity to be able to train in such a beautiful city with such amazing instructors. When I got home from Joffrey's intensive, I realized that the public high school I was attending at the time was not where I wanted to be. I wanted to incorporate dance into my daily routine during my school day. I began researching performing arts schools in the area where I lived. I eventually came across a school called Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts. I was fascinated at the idea of merging my love for dance with my academic studies. I submitted an application and received the opportunity to audition at the school. After I auditioned, I knew FWAFA was where I wanted to be. I waited anxiously for the letter that would be either my rejection, or my acceptance to the school. On the day the letter came, I was ecstatic to read that I had been accepted into the school! My dance career would grow significantly after I started attending FWAFA. Shorty after I learned that I had been accepted, the director of the school's dance department emailed me asking if I would like to audition for the school's Academy Dance Company. I accepted her invitation with huge enthusiasm and became a member of the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts Academy Dance Company.
After becoming a member of FWAFA’s High School Dance Company, I was selected by my instructor and peers to choreograph a piece for members of the company. The dancers would be performing my choreography in FWAFA’s annual Dance Company Concert. I was the only tenth grader who’s choreography was selected. The rest of the choreographers chosen were upperclassmen. In addition to training in modern, ballet, and jazz technique at my school for three hours a day, I also train in strict classical ballet outside of school. The ballet studio that I train at outside of my school dance classes is Ballet Center of Fort Worth. The owners of the studio are married couple, Chung Lin and Enrica Tseng. Both are former principal ballet dancers of Texas Ballet Theatre. As well as receiving excellent ballet technique for the backbone of my dancing career, I attend multiple classes at various studios and attend many dance conventions and master classes.
I hope to continue training in classical ballet for the rest of my high school years and to continue learning many different styles of contemporary and jazz from attending classes. I also hope to continue choreographing for my school and hopefully for other organizations as well. One of my goals is to become an intern for a dance convention that goes on tour throughout the country. This would allow me to travel to different cities with brilliant dance teachers and other dancers to expand my artistic boundaries. Training during the summer is very important to me. I like to go to intensives that help me grow in my dancing so that I can return home and apply what I learn to my dancing at home. Dancing is my passion and I have such a deep love for the art. I would be honored to receive a scholarship that would assist me in reaching my goals as a dancer.
My goals for Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s summer intensive were to experience new styles, improve my versatility as a dancer, and gain stamina and strength.
I thoroughly enjoyed DBDT’s summer intensive. The workshop provided multiple styles of dance such as: modern, jazz, ballet, praise dance, African, and hip hop. Before this intensive, I had never taken a Horton or Dunham class before. The unique movement and the live drummers were fascinating to me. The teachers were so passionate about what they were teaching, which was inspiring to me as a student. I believe that dancers who are exposed to all styles of dance are the best all-around performers. Experiencing new types of dance feeds more knowledge and creativity into our minds as performers, allowing us to emote and exude our voice as a dancer more boldly. Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s intensive was beneficial to me in the long run because of the unique training I received. Next time I train in another program that includes these styles, I will already know what to expect and will feel more comfortable.
Out of all the classes I took during the two weeks of the intensive, my favorite was Horton, taught by Milton Myers. He was upbeat and interesting while he was teaching. His teaching style allowed me to get so much out of the classes. His sense of humor was quite amusing and his random, but relevant, outbursts of stories or a joking statement kept me waiting to see what he would do next. Milton Myers inspired me to continue growing in my artistry as a dancer. Another teacher I specifically enjoyed was Mel A. Tomlinson. Mr. Tomlinson taught ballet classes that incorporated some slight contemporary movement into the classical base of ballet itself. Although I appreciate classical ballet and understand the importance in having a strong training base in it, I appreciated the fact that Mel A. Tomlinson added some contemporary movement into his classes. This fusion of the different dance styles challenged me and caused me to grow as a mover and an artist.
The biggest surprise of the experience, for me, was the fact that DBDT company members took class with us sometimes. The company members were exquisite dancers with outstanding technique and performance quality. I was so inspired by them while watching them move during class. Every one of them has a unique quality about them as dancers that makes them brilliant at what they do. I was honored to have the chance to take classes with them.
I plan to continue my training in ballet, contemporary, tap, and jazz for the remainder of my high school years. Moving to Los Angeles after high school is an ambition of mine. My dream is to work on movies, music videos, concert tours and TV shows as a dancer. I am also very involved with choreographing and teaching. I have been selected to choreograph several pieces for my dance company at my fine arts school. Choreographing is one of my greatest passions and I hope to have many more opportunities to choreograph in my future career. Teaching students brings me great joy. I love watching the passion and dedication in their dancing. It is very inspiring for me to be able to watch dancers grow right before my eyes. I plan to continue teaching and choreographing for the remainder of my career. One day, I would love to choreograph for famous singers or for television shows.