Melissa Anderson 16 ~ Buster Cooper Jazz Scholarship
I have been dancing for twelve years as a student at the Ballet Academy of Texas in Coppell. Currently I take ballet, modern, and jazz classes. In the past, I took two years of tap and hip hop. I take four ballet classes, one modern class, and one jazz class per week for a total of about 8.5 hours per week. I am sixteen years old and a junior at John Paul II High School in Plano, Texas. Besides dancing, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, traveling with my family, reading, and experiencing new things.
I am a third year member of the Ballet Ensemble of Texas Company. In addition to my weekly dance classes, I dance an additional five to seven hours for company rehearsals every week. Two years ago, as an apprentice at my studio, I performed in the Regional Dance Festival in Houston. To improve my dancing, I have attended summer intensives since the seventh grade. The intensives that I have attended are:
7th grade – American Ballet Theatre in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
8th grade – Joffrey Ballet in San Antonio, Texas
9th grade – Magnus Midwest in Flint, Michigan
10th grade – Nashville Ballet in Nashville, Tennessee
I was also invited to be a part of the Joffrey, NY full-time training program starting in the Fall 2011. Although I made the decision not to attend so that I could continue to receive a solid high school education, I felt honored to be chosen as 1 of 200 dancers of the 20,000 dancers that tried out.
This year, I competed in the Youth American Grand Prix for the second time and performed a contemporary solo. The solo was choreographed by Tammie Reinsch, my modern dance teacher, and it is titled “Driven.”
I will be traveling to the Tanzommer Dance Festival this June in Austria. I am very excited to perform with my fellow company members at this very popular, two-week dance festival held in Innsbrook every year.
My goals for the next two years are to graduate from high school and to increase my level and maturity in my dancing. When I graduate from high school, I want to go to college, major in dance, and then join a dance company.
This past June, I took an unforgettable trip to Austria to take part in the Young! Tanzsommer Stars of Tomorrow dance tour. A group of us from my studio, the Ballet Ensemble of Texas, along with two other dance groups from the United States performed to very enthusiastic crowds throughout Austria. Some of the cities we performed in were Lienz, St Johann and Absams. It was also very exciting to have performed at the famous Dogma Theatre in Innsbruck to over a thousand people.
I enjoyed experiencing a completely different culture, seeing what it felt like to dance on tour like a professional company, and performing for different kinds of audiences. My goals were to learn from the guest teachers, improve my technique and performance and make new friends. I am happy to say that every goal was reached!
Besides rehearsing (my company had four pieces), we had a master jazz class with Ceasar Barajas, a ballet class with Thom Clower and also with ballet mistress Petra Peez. I was in the opening act made of dancers from the two other troupes where we danced gangnam style which the crowd loved. We not only learned gangnam style, but we performed with an Austrian dance troupe in a couple of shows and learned a section of their traditional dance. We had seven performances in only 12 days.
The whole experience was unlike anything I have ever done before. I was surprised how much the audiences enjoyed the performances from us Americans. Austria is such a beautiful country and being able to have danced there was an amazing experience that I will always treasure. Thank you Dance Council of North Texas for the scholarship money. It helped me achieve one of my dreams of having this amazing dance experience and reinforced my goal of becoming a professional dancer!