Dance Spotlight: Hannah Hunter

Hannah Hunter, 16, is a Tap Ensemble II and musical theater student. She is from La Crescenta and has been at Colburn for ten years.

This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.

How did you start taking classes here?
When I was living in Altadena, there was this little dance studio where I started ballet for a year and a half. My brother was doing tap. I thought that was kind of cool, so I started doing tap. And then we moved, and no one was teaching tap anywhere, but then we found that Colburn was. So I started here, and I’ve just always been here.

How do you like it here?
It’s so much fun. It’s kind of like a second home, because I’ve been here for so, so long. I know the teachers very well and the atmosphere’s great, especially for tap. Everybody knows each other and everybody loves each other.

You do both musical theater and tap here, but recently chose to focus on tap. Why’s that?
I’m really into music, because I grew up listening to jazz music. My dad’s a jazz musician. The musical aspect of jazz, percussion-wise, is very interesting to me because it’s all about manipulating sounds in such a way that you can create these interesting rhythms.

And then on top of that is the technical aspect of performing it, visually. I love the challenge, because it’s very difficult. It’s something I love to keep working at.

Tap Fest is coming up on March 9 and 10. What are you looking forward to?
I’ll be there for classes which I’m very excited for. I’ve taken them every year. I’m definitely taking a class with Anissa Lee, which I’m very excited about because I haven’t taken a class with her in a really long time.

How did you get started with musical theater?
I started doing the musical theater tap class, which was a while ago, because it was another way for me to do tap. I really love singing, and I’m in my school’s choir, so an opportunity to practice doing them at the same time is more of challenge. It’s really fun for me.

You can have some long days here with both of those programs. How do you keep up?
You just keep going, you focus on the steps. It’s really about having a singular focus on what you’re doing at the moment. If I’m feeling tired, I focus on the step I’m doing and how I can do it better, and then time just seems to fly by.

Have you tried other styles besides tap and musical theater?
I’ve done jazz for the past few years and that class is amazing. We work on extensions and physical strength. Lately, I’ve actually joined the hip hop team at my high school, which has been completely different and really interesting to learn a new style and to figure out what I’m doing wrong and how to do it better.

Is there any crossover between the styles?
The main thing is presenting yourself and having this energy behind everything, because even when it’s a different type of song or different mood or style, you always have to have that energy and connection with the audience, or else it really doesn’t come across.

Why do you dance?
It’s just something I’ve been doing for so long. It’s kind of like breathing. It’s always been in my life, and it’s a way to express myself on days when I need to. On days where I want to be moving around instead of just sitting down, I can dance. Sometimes when I’m listening to music and it just makes me very happy, I can dance to it. I can just be in the moment. It’s like an extension, like an arm is just a part of me.

What are your interests outside dance?
I’m really academically focused as an individual, so outside of dance I’m really interested in math and sciences. Additionally, I really love to sing. I’ve been doing that for a while. My dad is a pianist and musical director for Dionne Warwick so watching her perform and having the chance the sing with her has made singing a big part of my life.

I also play piano with my piano teacher who I’ve played with for such a long time. I just love to try new things and to do as many new things as possible. That’s kind of my goal in life.

What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Possibly going into environmental science because I love chemistry. It’s really interesting to me. I also care about climate change and trying to help fix the planet while we can.

With that, I might want to go into political sciences and possibly be a political analyst, because it’s a very interesting subject and very temperamental at the moment. I think we need some cooler heads to look at it.

The weekly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding students, faculty, and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.

Read more about Tap Fest and the guest artists that will teach and inspire students Hannah and her fellow students.