By Mari Kanagy, Reporter & Designer
For the majority of her life, freshman Mia Kuzma has been dancing. From when she first hit the stage as a toddler, Kuzma has always had a passion for dance.
Kuzma first started dancing at age two, for the Classical Ballet Academy in Gresham, Oregon, her home at the time. She moved to the island at the beginning of third grade, and soon joined the dance program at Vashon Allied Arts (VAA), the organization she dances for today.
Part of why Kuzma enjoys dance is because it’s opportunities for challenge.
“It looks really easy because you’re smiling the whole time, and you look really controlled, but it’s so physically challenging,” Kuzma said. “You’re using every single part of your body. You have to have this sort of self control while you’re dancing that is remarkable, and I love it.”
Kuzma has participated in numerous productions with VAA, including “Romeo and Juliet,” “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty” and yearly performances of “The Nutcracker” and “Original Works,” the latter of which is a production comprised entirely of dances choreographed by students.
“I love ‘Original Works,’” Kuzma said. “I never choreograph things myself, but it’s really fun to be in other people’s dances. Student-choreographed dances are always amazing.”
For this year’s “Original Works,” which took place on March 23, 24 and 25, Kuzma danced in performances choreographed by junior Talia Roybal, sophomore Duncan Barlow and freshman Tamsen Henry.
Most recently, on June 2, 3 and 4, Kuzma performed in VAA’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.”
Along with “Alice and Wonderland,” Kuzma performed in a separate production called “Pictures in Exhibition,” a performance in which music was composed to paintings, and dances were choreographed to the music.
In preparation for these performances, the VAA holds practices six days a week, with sessions ranging between one and three hours in length. Vadne Domeika, Kuzma’s instructor, leads the practices and performances.
“During class, [Domeika] gives us combinations to do,” Kuzma said. “The combinations work on specific parts of dance.”
Measurement of ballet progression is set up in eight stages: ballet Prep for beginners usually around age five or six, and ballet One through Seven.
Kuzma, along with two other dancers — Roybal and Barlow — is in ballet seven.
“Ballet seven is a class mostly for people who want to be professional, so it’s more one-on-one,” Kuzma said. “You get more technique-oriented class work.”
For Kuzma, dance is a pursuit that she fully intends to continue beyond high school.
“I really want to be a professional dancer, but I feel like the word ‘professional’ gets thrown around a lot and also misconceived,” Kuzma said, “People often think ‘oh, you’re gonna be famous, and everyone’s gonna know you,’ but really, it’s just dancing for a living.”
Kuzma emphasized that being in the spotlight is not the motivation behind her dream of dancing professionally.
“I don’t want people to know who I am,” she said. “I just want to dance.”