Juan-Carlos (left), Melani (middle), and Carlos Tobar (right), 12, are Colburn Dance students. Juan-Carlos (JT) is in Tap Ensemble I, Carlos (CT) is in Tap III, and Melani (MT) is in Tap Ensemble I and Ballet III. The triplets are Los Angeles natives.
This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.
How did you start taking classes here?
MT: We were born preemies, so we stayed in the [newborn intensive care unit] for a while, and then once we came back, we had to go to physical therapy because we needed to improve our motor skills and the therapist recommended sports but one of our mom’s friends said, “You should come here to Colburn for tap dance.”
What’s your favorite thing about Colburn?
MT: It’s a friendly environment. There are also other dancers and it’s just a place to break free from schoolwork and everything else.
JT: It’s a place where you can grow and learn.
CT: It’s also a place where you can do homework quietly. It’s also a good place to make friends.
You performed in the Tap and Musical Theater showcase a couple weeks ago. What did you perform?
CT: We performed three pieces. During the Tap History thing, we all performed the Shim Sham.
JT: The national anthem for tap.
CT: But for my class, we did a dance choreographed by Ms. Melinda [Sullivan] and it was really fun dancing that dance because it was really fun!
JT: I liked our dance, it was choreographed by Joseph [Wiggan] and cause we have multiple members in Tap Ensemble I it makes us feel like we can show what we’re learning as a group.
Juan-Carlos and Melani, you’re in Tap Ensemble I together. How do you like being in the same class?
MT: It’s fun. We help each other out and we just make it extra friendly.
JT: We help each other a lot.
MT: And we always have a person to go to instead of asking the teacher for help.
JT: And also people to practice with at home.
Why do you like tap dancing?
CT: That’s easy. It’s so much fun to tap dance! It’s so cool learning new things, and I also enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out how to do new steps.
JT: The reason why I like tap dance is that it lifts the burden off my shoulders because I feel relaxed whenever I do tap dance. I’ll be piled with homework and I have to use time for tap dance, and in that time I just forget everything else and it helps me feel more calm.
MT: I love tap dance because I get to move around. I love to play and it’s hard for me to be in one spot for an hour so in tap I just break loose and I feel free. I feel like I can just be myself in class.
How was Tap Fest back in March?
MT: It was amazing. I was inspired even more. Right now, I have to choose ballet or tap. But after Tap Fest, I don’t think I can choose anymore. Every professional dancer inspires me a lot. Especially Evan Ruggiero.
CT: I was inspired by Tap Fest too. I just thought it was amazing because we could see examples of professionals doing amazing things that we could eventually too.
MT: And also, I’m inspired by my teachers.
JT: They inspire you to grow and do better.
What are your favorite subjects in school?
JT: I like science because you get to do a lot of experiments and stuff, not like those TV shows where it shows you all this fake information.
MT: I like science because there are puzzles in science like figuring out the atomic number and everything for the elements, and it’s just super fun and I love to learn more about the human body and the environment we live in.
CT: I like science because you get to learn new things and experiment, especially because science is based off of questions. I love answering questions and figuring out new things because it gives me more knowledge about different subjects.
What do you want to do when you grow up?
MT: I want to be a dancer and a neurosurgeon.
CT: Doesn’t everyone want to be a neurosurgeon?
JT: I want to be a scientist because I want to solve world problems because I can help not only myself, but others around me.
CT: I’m kind of thinking a doctor or a veterinarian. If I was a veterinarian, I would help people be really happy because their pets would be healthy, but if I was a doctor, I’d save lives of other people.
What are things you like to do besides dancing?
MT: I like to play outside, go on our bikes, and I also like to make bracelets and just make things and I also like making mini projects. And I also like hanging out with friends. And eating. I love to eat.
JT: I like to ride my bike. I also like to do my schoolwork. I also like to play outside with my sister and brother.
CT: I like reading because it takes you to a place in your imagination and it just takes you away from everything else so you’re focused on that book. I also like going outside and playing because it’s really fun and it gives me a lot of exercise. Another thing I like to do is build stuff. I love building things because it’s so cool to build them and destroy them and build them again.
The weekly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding students, faculty, and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.