Example of Dancer's Artistic Statement


Example of Dancer's Artistic Statement

Dane LeAnna is a 2013-2014 recipient of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Excellence Scholarship program, the most prestigious scholarship program at the UNCSA.

To the Pointe
By Dane LeAnna

I am a dancer. I dance to bring meaning, to bring beauty, to bring possibility, and to bring inspiration and hope into a concrete world. I dance for clarity and for charity. I dance because it makes me whole, and when I am whole, I am a better daughter, student, girlfriend, employee and person. 

Sixteen years ago when I was a thigh-high, tiptoeing toddler, being a dancer meant I lived in a cozy home without living-room furniture, dressed daily in rummage sale prom dresses and pink tutus, leaped and swirled to the crescendo of Antonio Vivaldi from the stereo, and beamed when my mom glorified my final bow, “Bravo ma petite enfant! Bravo!” before serving lemonade and shortbread refreshments to our make believe audience.

As a child dancer, the love and gift to dance came to me like a birthright. Through my joyful, magical childhood, I danced spontaneously and experienced how creativity occurs in the moment, timelessly and freely. There were no blocks, only building blocks to something new; no competition, only more creation; no fears, only love. To dance was life and it was just what I did. I was yet to understand a big life lesson: the things you need to learn -- but resist-- first may whisper to you, then shout at you, and finally knock you off your toes to help get you back on the right road.

But what has changed within the course of a recent yearlong injury rehabilitation and more than 8,500 hours of dance training and performing, is not my dream as a professional ballet dancer, but rather, the road taken in pursuit of my dream.

Dane LeAnna

The right road, or true north for me, always meant a professional ballet career on stage, being the best of the best, the prima ballerina. It still does. But what has changed within the course of a recent yearlong injury rehabilitation and more than 8,500 hours of dance training and performing, is not my dream as a professional ballet dancer, but rather, the road taken in pursuit of my dream.

Two summers ago I was given an opportunity I had dedicated myself to for years: to join a professional ballet company. When the Artistic Director of the Eugene Ballet Company offered me an apprenticeship I could feel my dream unfolding within my grasp. It took me but twelve seconds to say, “Yes!”

That fall, I left high school and enrolled in an online academic program while dancing seven hours a day with the Company. I felt the joy of the dreamy, tiptoeing toddler within me. Persistence, perseverance, practice, and luck worked! I was dancing the dance of my life. Then, within the year, the dancer’s bane of injury crept its way around my ankles, knees, and hips like invasive ivy. It knocked me off pointe, and I crumbled. But what followed changed me forever.

I weathered the storm and grew, and that is the point. I knew then, and still know now, that the best way to alter the future is to focus on the present. Focusing too much on the big picture can ignore the reality that a dancer’s dance is grounded on many small steps and very few large steps.

The enthusiasm and authenticity of those thigh-high dancing days remain in my core. The sure-footedness of being aligned and on the right path in life is a childlike legacy that I am grateful for, along with my mom’s “Bravo ma petite enfant! Bravo!” playfulness. A performance career is still my true north point. But now, the never-ending process of becoming a dancer rather than just being a dancer has broadened and matured my trajectory. There are smaller pathways to explore along the road of my dream now. As a college-bound dancer, I get to take many small steps in becoming a successful human being, contributing meaning, beauty, possibility, inspiration, hope, skill and stewardship in the world. With this balance I will be able to dance the dance of my life, for a lifetime.

What the writer learned.
Dane LeAnna ('17)
School of DANCE

"The most difficult thing about writing an artistic statement is taking all the aspects that make up you as an artist, and person, and funneling them down into a concise representation of yourself. It is very easy to get caught up in trying to squeeze every aspect in because you want to show the school(s) you are applying for really how fabulous you are (which you are, don’t worry). But if you can decide what qualities represent you the strongest and an experience or story that has shaped who you are now, it will give you a direction to head in. I decided to choose one personal experience to base my artistic statement on. Doing this really helped because I had a specific idea to structure my artistic statement around and was then able to weave the other qualities I thought were worthy of sharing into that story."

What the Admissions faculty learned.
School of Dance
From Admissions faculty in the school of dance

"This artistic statement conveys much about the student. It is not only coherently organized and gracefully written, it strongly reveals her passion, sensitivity and intelligence. She traces a clear trajectory of her past, present, and future in the world of dance and lets us know why UNCSA would be a good fit for her dreams and aspirations. While the results of our dance audition is the primary criterion for acceptance into the School of Dance, an artistic statement such as this one moves a student from the category of “great dancer” to “great dancer/citizen/artist” - exactly the kind of student we are seeking."