Falling into new experiences

Senior learns aerial, prepares for upcoming recital


Ballet, tap and jazz are a few of the dance styles senior Michelle Waida tried before beginning her journey with aerial dancing earlier this year.  

Now, Waida practices this new form of dance with her class on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays at Dance Xpress, while also catching up with most of her class due to starting later than most, as well as preparing for their upcoming recital.

“[Aerial has] always been a thing at my dance studio, and I never had the chance to [try] it due to [my involvement in] band and theater [at school],” Waida said. “This year, my dance teacher reached out and [asked] if I’d be interested and I said yes. I’ve been [at Dance Xpress] the whole time I’ve been dancing, and it’s a very fun [and] welcoming environment.”

Waida originally was inspired to start dancing 10 years ago by her friend Grace Edgeworth, who has been practicing a variety of dances for 13 years. The two, along with senior Kaileen Rooks, are working on choreographing their own routine for their upcoming dance recital, themed to The Beatles’ love album.

“Michelle, presumably because of the marching band, has a lot of upper body strength so she doesn’t struggle with pulling herself up,” Edgeworth said. “The big [struggle] would be that she’s really new to aerial [and has] only been doing it for a couple of months. [We’re doing a hoop piece for our recital that] we started a couple weeks ago, and she’s never been on hoop before, so we’re having her do all these advanced moves that she’s never even attempted.”

Prior to this recital, the studio’s show of the year just wrapped up about a month ago, which was also Michelle’s first performance with aerial. The performance surrounded The Eagles, with dances to their music.

“It was very entertaining to see her first performance, and I was shocked and [thought] ‘Wow this is amazing,’” Waida’s friend, senior Claire Clausen said. “[Since starting aerial I’ve seen] that she’s started to have a whole lot more fun.”

When she first started dance, Waida said she didn’t feel comfortable with some of the people in her class, making it difficult to try new things as a beginner with the constant feeling of being judged. 

“[With] a lot of dance, there’s this concept that you have to be really skinny and thin to [participate],” Waida said. “With aerial, at least there were so many different body types, and it just made me more comfortable and confident in my body while I was building up more strength to do [the moves].” 

Waida said she hopes college will be an opportunity to further her experience in aerial, as well as provide an opportunity to explore more basic dances — such as ballet and tap — in order to improve on infrequently used skills that may have weakened from lack of time. 

“[Aerial] is a really good thing to try and a great learning experience,” Waida said. “I would say if you think you really want to try something, do it.”