Spotlight Date:November 20, 2015
Dreyfoos dance senior Ashley Simpson has been dancing since she was 7 years old, and it has been a major part of her life since. Her first lead role came in the 8th grade in her dance studio’s production of The Nutcracker. “I was never in a lead role like this, and my teacher, Ms. Deborah, was the first person to really see that I would rise to the challenge of this part. At my age, I had never gotten an opportunity like that before, and the beneficial experience that I had in rehearsals and performances of that part, has positively affected my outlook on dance.”
Since then, Ashley has studied in many programs, such as the summer intensives at Juilliard, Joffrey Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Ballet Palm Beach, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Next Generation Ballet, and Orlando Ballet.
Ashley and the rest of the DSOA Dance Department are gearing up for their Fall Dance Concert this weekend. “The preparation that goes into the Fall Dance Concert is an important process. The guest choreographers come to Dreyfoos from anytime from the beginning of the school year to about 2 weeks before the dance concert. They hold an audition, callbacks, and then begin the rehearsal process. Typically we work on these pieces for 2 hours after school for consecutive days until that choreographer is gone, which averages around 2 weeks. However, when a choreographer has a tighter schedule we have to plan rehearsals around them. For instance, the hip hop dance this year was choreographed by Larry Albright, and since he teaches elsewhere, we rehearsed on Mondays and Fridays. The class pieces are choreographed and made in the class periods that we have dance, and those typically take more weeks than the guest pieces, because of the lack of consecutive class periods.” Ashley will be dancing in five of the pieces.
“The Dreyfoos dance department has offered me countless opportunities that I could not have received at my home school. At Dreyfoos we get the opportunity to work with renowned guest choreographers and perform their works in the dance concert. I am so grateful for this opportunity because it gives you a feel of the real dance world, where choreographers come to companies and choose the dancers that they want to present their choreography on. The guest choreographers that come are also great because us dancers can make connections for the future.”
Ashley considers Dreyfoos to be the best of both worlds, where she can explore her artistic and academic sides and shape her love for performance arts. When she graduates, she hopes to continue her studies in dance alongside health fitness and orthopedics. “I hope to attend college at a BFA program like Ailey/Fordham, Alonzo King Lines/Dominican University of California, Juilliard, or NYU Tisch.”