Sircey Smith (Dance Academy ’20) began her studies with the Community School’s Youth Dance program before entering the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute’s Dance Academy. She is now a trainee at Ballet Idaho.
This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.
To start, how are you doing? What is your life like these days?
I’m currently a trainee with Ballet Idaho [in Boise]. We’re in-person and we all wear masks. There are ten of us, and it’s a really big studio, so we’re able to social distance. We have to do an intake form every morning that asks you questions to make sure you’re not having any symptoms and stuff like that. But it’s been nice to be in a studio and learning and feeling like I’m actually dancing again. I’ve been here for a month almost.
You like Ballet Idaho so far?
I do. I really like it. I’ve loved all the teachers. The group of trainees—I think we’re all just super excited to be back. So, everyone is super positive and just really uplifting.
Most of us haven’t been really dancing for several months, so everyone’s figuring out their place, and at least personally, I’m trying to remember, how did I do this? Muscles are definitely very sore, but it’s been nice. And I really love it so far.
Has there been any issue or hesitation around getting back into it and being around people?
I think most of us try and social distance a lot. And most people aren’t going out just because if we want to dance, we all have to make sure we don’t have COVID. And I think we all have that trust with each other that we are staying as safe as possible so we can all dance in person, because it isn’t fun doing it on Zoom in your small apartment or trying to figure out the space.
When did you begin dancing?
I began dancing when I was 12. I used to do competitive gymnastics, and I stopped that in middle school.
What made you make the transition from competitive gymnastics?
I loved gymnastics, but I was always scared, and I loved to dance. My floor and beam routines were always extremely dance-y. And I was like, I really like dance. I wonder if I would just like to do that and not have to do flips from a bar four feet off the ground. I mean, there’s some scary things [with dance], but it’s completely different. If you fall, your injury is probably going to be a little bit worse if you’re ten feet off the ground. It’s about your movement and not so much the tricks that you’re doing.
How did you join the Colburn dance community?
I was at Los Angeles Ballet Academy for about a year and a half. One of our friends, her son actually did music at Colburn, knew there was a dance program. Colburn was a lot closer for my family, and so I auditioned for the advanced program in the Community School and got in. So, I started Colburn in my freshman year, and I was in the Dance Academy for two years.
What was the experience like? What did you think of Colburn?
I loved Colburn. The teachers are amazing. I mean, from the ballet teachers to the contemporary teachers and the tap teachers we had. I’d never done tap, and the teachers knew a lot of us hadn’t. They were just like, “Just try it.” I always felt really comfortable just going for things and feeling like I was in a non-judgmental space. I feel like I’ve grown so much from Colburn, and the experiences that I’ve learned, I’ve taken them to Ballet Idaho.
The Dance Academy curriculum introduces other genres while you’re focusing on ballet. Can you say more about that experience?
We always have technique ballet classes and pointe classes and variations, but sometimes, in different parts of the semester, we’ve had tap, contemporary, urban movement, which is kind of hip hop, but not. We had eurythmics, which is learning about music and moving with music. And we learned piano, which I love. That was probably one of my favorite things that wasn’t ballet based.
Do you still play piano?
I don’t because I don’t have a piano in my apartment, but I wish I could.
When you think about the cross genre experience at Colburn, how much of that informs your movements today?
I think you are able to have different movements and different dynamics. So, if you’re doing a movement that’s a little bit “sharper,” you can relate it to tap. Or contemporary, it’s really the upper body I’ve noticed. So, you can use that contemporary movement technique in ballet, which is fun to play with. You have more of a vocabulary with your body.
When did you know dance was the goal and not just an extracurricular activity?
I think when I went to Colburn. I was really falling more in love with it, and I really liked progressing and having to work for things. If you love what you are doing, you might as well go for it. Not to say you don’t have days you don’t like, but there’s still something inside of you. You wouldn’t be there on those days if you didn’t love it. You get driven, and you work for things. It’s fun, but it’s hard.
What were your favorite or most memorable experiences at Colburn?
I loved the connections I made with my teachers. In Dance Academy, we would go on field trips, and everyone would be there. Sometimes, we’d go see shows or we would go to a museum. Those were always fun for me because I felt like we bonded a little bit more.
This is a pretty big question. Why do you dance?
For me, I’m very active. It’s something to be able to do that, [to dance], that I can let out energy, and it’s definitely a more expressive thing. I’m not a competitive person, [but] it’s like a game in a way, where it’s more of your self-competitiveness. What can I do better today that wasn’t great yesterday, or yesterday that was really great? Why isn’t it working today? That’s how I stay motivated and just continue to do what I do because it’s this constant cycle.
What are your interests outside of dance?
I’m currently working with the Biden campaign in Idaho, which I love. I think it’s so cool. It’s so interesting. We phone bank. We text bank. We have discussions of how to reach out to people who either aren’t registered or don’t know what to do or who to vote for—not just presidential, but down-ballot. I think it’s super important because it plays into everything. The arts should be, in my opinion, funded more. And that starts with our government. It’s really nice to do something different outside that feels meaningful.
I’m registered to vote [in Boise]. I just got confirmation a couple days ago. It’s my first election, so it’s super exciting, and one I will definitely remember.
The conversation around equality and community activism happens so much faster in the cultural sphere because there’s just a free exchange of ideas.
There’s so much creativity with that. There’re so many ideas—good, bad, whatever. But there’s a way that people are able to bring them together and make it work. If you want it to be different, then vote for the change that you want. May not happen. But soon enough, if you also tell your friends or post about it, in a couple of years it could be different.