For the Dance

- By Carla Gajewskey
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For the Dance

Read “For the Dance” and answer the questions that follow.
1. I sat on the soft, brown couch in Jessica Nix’s living room. She was fixing us a glass of sweet iced tea. You know you are in Arkansas when you are offered sweet tea.
2. On the walls hung pictures of Jessica in her Southern Arkansas Strutter uniform. Many girls in Arkansas start dance early to prepare for the dance or drill team at the high school and college level. Jessica came back in with our sweet tea and caught me looking at her pictures.
3. Jessica: That picture was taken right after we won our homecoming game. I will never forget half-time. We did not make any mistakes during our show. We had so much fun.
4. Interviewer: How old were you when you started to dance?
5. Jessica: I was five, and I took ballet and tap.
6. Interviewer: Which was your favorite?
7. Jessica: Tap because I loved the noise my shoes would make.
8. Interviewer: How did you feel the first time you were on stage?
9. Jessica: (Jessica laughs) I really don’t remember. I think I was calm because I didn’t look nervous at all on the video of the recital.
10. Interviewer: When did dance start to become a challenge?
11. Jessica: It really started to become challenging when I was in junior high. I had more
practices and things became harder. Of course, I made it become more challenging because I became serious about it. I became more competitive. I went from just doing dance to have fun to wanting to be good.
12. Interviewer: What did you do to become a better dancer?
13. Jessica: I stretched, stretched, stretched. That was the only way to improve my flexibility. I also practiced turns anywhere I could. My friends were on the dance team. So when we hung out we were practicing. It was fun for us.
14. Interviewer: How did you know you were growing into a better dancer?
15. Jessica: When I made All-American in the eighth grade. I was really shocked that I made it. I was the only member of the dance team that made it.
16. Interviewer: What does making All-American mean?
17. Jessica: All-American is a company that does dance camps and dance competitions. If you are  noticed at these camps and competitions, you get a ribbon. Then you get to audition for various dance teams. If you make it, you get to travel. I traveled to San Antonio, Texas. Once there, I had the chance to dance with girls I didn’t know. It was a great experience.
18. Interviewer: Who inspired you to dance?
19. Jessica: It was more of me wanting to do it, no matter what anyone said. I used dance as an escape from things in my life that worried me.
20. Interviewer: What is your favorite form of dance?
21. Jessica: Lyrical is my favorite form of dance because it is not as slow as ballet or as fast as jazz. The lyrical form of dance tells a story. It also is a way to release emotions through dance.
22. Interviewer: What advice can you give young dancers?
23. Jessica: My advice is to stretch, stretch, and stretch. You also need to practice a lot, but it should be fun. You can practice anywhere. No matter how hard it gets, just try one more time.
24. Jessica Nix still loves dance to this day. She has passed her love for dance to her five year old daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth performs tap, ballet, lyrical, jazz, and participates in competitions. Jessica teaches dance and yoga in Arkansas.

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Word Lists:

Lyrical : (of literature, art, or music) expressing the writer's emotions in an imaginative and beautiful way

Audition : an interview for a particular role or job as a singer, actor, dancer, or musician, consisting of a practical demonstration of the candidate's suitability and skill.

Ballet : an artistic dance form performed to music using precise and highly formalized set steps and gestures. Classical ballet, which originated in Renaissance Italy and established its present form during the 19th century, is characterized by light, graceful, fluid movements and the use of pointe shoes.

Challenging : testing one's abilities; demanding

Interview : a meeting of people face to face, especially for consultation.

Jazz : a type of music of black American origin characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular or forceful rhythm, emerging at the beginning of the 20th century. Brass and woodwind instruments and piano are particularly associated with jazz, although guitar and occasionally violin are also used; styles include Dixieland, swing, bebop, and free jazz.

Yoga : a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation

Flexibility : the quality of bending easily without breaking

Stretch : (of something soft or elastic) be made or be capable of being made longer or wider without tearing or breaking

Recital : the performance of a program of music by a solo instrumentalist or singer or by a small group


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