Dance Spotlight: Vega Pierce

Vega Pierce, 14, is a Level 5 ballet dancer in the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute. This is his first year taking dance at Colburn. Besides ballet, he also does contemporary dance and freestyle hip-hop. Vega is from Los Angeles.

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

How did you find out about Colburn?
A long time ago when I was four, I heard about Colburn through a friend because I was looking to get into music. She said the music here was really good. I took a xylophone class here when I was four years old. The only thing was that I just really hated the long drive. It takes me an hour to get here, so we quit for a little bit. As I got older, my direction in what I wanted to be when I grew up changed. It was musical theater, then dancing. I got into dancing at Pasadena Dance Theatre and I wanted to take my dancing to the next level to get into a company. I remembered that Colburn not only does music, but it does dance too. We came here, auditioned, and I loved it here.

Is your goal to get into a pre-professional program?
That’s my goal, along with becoming a film score composer. Dance and music are my main things.

How did you start dancing?
I got started dancing when I was doing musical theater. I could sing and I could act, but I could not dance to save my life. I looked into dance programs that were good for beginners so that’s where I found Pasadena Dance Theatre. I took ballet classes and that’s what really got me into dancing. I did that for a while and really started to love ballet more than anything else, so I wanted to pursue that.

What was it about ballet that made you want to pursue it?
It’s something about the precision and how beautiful it can be without it being so in-your-face beautiful. It’s all about the lines, your technique, and how you can tell a story with just movement.

How is that similar to or different from the other styles of dance that you do?
It’s different from contemporary because contemporary is based more on your personality and style. It can be really improvisational, but when it comes to choreography, you have to put your mind in a certain mental state and really go with it. With ballet, it’s really precise and it’s not as flowy as contemporary. You have a set story that you have to put yourself into. You have to ask yourself, what would the character do?

How did you get into film scoring?
It kind of came out of the blue for me. I’ve always loved music and I’ve been doing music since I was four. Piano is my main instrument, and I’ve been playing piano for pretty much all my life so far. I got to the point where I didn’t like taking other composers’ work and redoing it—I wanted to do my own thing and improvise. A few years later, I got a piano and all I would do was just improvise. I started grabbing videos and just improvising to them and one day, my mom suggested that I do film scoring. I was really interested in the idea. It was hard to get used to it at first because there’s a lot of technology involved, but the idea of creating a scene is amazing because the music can carry a scene. If the music is off-putting and doesn’t fit the scene, the whole scene can be ruined.

My music is modern contemporary/classical. It has classical flairs, but it’s definitely more modern and new age with the sounds that I use.

Where do you see yourself taking that in the future and how does that fit in with your dancing?
If offered, I would love to compose for contemporary choreography. That would be amazing. I’ve actually composed for a few friends who choreograph and it’s really fun to see how my work is interpreted through movement.

Why do you love dancing?
I love dancing because I can get away from life itself and just be in the moment with my body and move. I love to get active so I’m already drawn to anything that gets me to be active. In ballet and contemporary, and dance in general, you’re not only moving, but you’re exploring as well. It’s an exploring art form, and I love all styles of art.

What are you trying to convey with your art?
It depends on the style. With ballet, I always want to convey a sense of strength because the males have to be strong. I want to convey a sense of grace, as well as the ability to fly. If you’re a guy, you want to be able to jump high and look like you’re flying. With contemporary, I want to convey every last bit of emotion that I have with movement. I want to convey as much emotion as possible to accompany the music, as well as the movement.

What are your interests outside music and dance?
I just recently started getting into basketball. I don’t do a lot of sports but I don’t know what happened; there was a basketball game that I just really got into. I started getting into the statistics of basketball and every time I played the game, I wanted to go outside and start doing it, so I got better as I kept practicing. It’s just kind of fun. I don’t see myself becoming a basketball player.

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