Just dance: the passion of a dancer

Sarah Klukas

Sarah Klukas, 20, dances at Deas Island Dance studio. (Photo by Kierra Philbrook)

At 20 years of age, Sarah Klukas is finishing up a psychology degree at UBC, but isn’t yet sure where that will take her. However, she does know that she has a passion for dance, one that didn’t fade when she cut down her extra-curricular activities when she graduated from high school.

We hear about young people taking the world by storm and having it all figured out. Klukas, on the other hand, is a typical Canadian student. Like many students, she’s struggling with the fact that at a time when people expect her to know what she’s doing after school, she has realized she just wants to go back to dance. Here’s a look at the passion behind the hobby.

Jaclyn Sinclair: How often do you dance?

Sarah Klukas:  I only do it once a week now. It’s so depressing. I hate school because I can’t dance as much, you know. I miss dance.

JS: You’d rather just dance?

SK: Yeah. I think I like the aspect of working on something, improving in something. And it’s not like school, dance is more cumulative, I guess. You’re always working on the same stuff, but over the years you improve on it if you keep practicing.

I like the feeling of just getting something, when your body is getting stronger and you can do something really well. The technique and the artistry coming together feels nice. It feels like you accomplished something.

You’re using your body and you have to be smart in a different way. Like the way you think about things, the way you judge your movement. The way you think about your body and how to improve. I miss it. It’s fun.

JS: How did you begin dance?

SK: I started when I was three. I think I was taking classes, like, somewhere like a rec centre, so it was not intense or anything, but that’s where I started. I switched to Deas Island Dance when I was pretty young still. It was probably like age seven I’m guessing, and then just kept going each year.

The first year, the show was The Wizard of Oz and I was a poppy. And then in Grade 12 it was The Wizard of Oz again, and I was Dorothy!

JS: Is there one specific aspect of your time in dance that’s particularly memorable?

SK: Lots of memories. I love doing shows, being backstage, the feeling before you go on. You’re nervous but there’s also anticipation, it’s exciting. I still hear the music from Grade 12 when I was the lead and it brings back memories and feelings. I hear that music and I’m just like, “I want to do it again!” iIt’s just fun. It’s very enjoyable to be out there and you’ve done all this hard work and then you kind of get to show it.

I would say another aspect is growth, as a person and as a dancer. You learn things about yourself and I think I learned a lot about how other people work. So, the other [memory] is just like, the classes and relationships with people and teachers. That’s a huge part of it.

Another stand-out memory is when this teacher who taught us contemporary was working with us on improvisation. You’re supposed to kind of feel it and not plan it in your head. So, we were doing that, and then after, she talked about each person about how she saw them growing, or where she thought they were at, what she thought they needed to work on. So I remember that, things like that stand out.

JS: Was there ever a time that you didn’t want to do dance anymore, and you thought you wanted to quit?

SK: No. I always wanted to keep dancing, it was like the one thing I never wanted to quit. I tried skating when I was a kid. It was on Saturday mornings. I didn’t want to wake up on Saturday mornings for skating lessons.

Where as dance, I always liked it, I always wanted to go back. I don’t remember there ever being a time where I said, “I want to quit,” or was even thinking about it. I remember other people were quitting, but it was never something that I wanted to do.

JS: What do you think it takes for a dancer to be really good, is it just about training, or is there a certain type of person who is born to be a dancer?

SK: I think it’s a combination of many different things. If you’re driven to do well at dance and you’re working hard, that will help a lot.

Your physicality is also important. If you want to be a professional ballerina, you have to be able to have strong feet, go up on pointe, be flexible…and a lot of those things are helped a lot with training.

Also, artistry, like how much you feel inspired by it, and how much you can create that is new and maybe hasn’t been seen before. There’s a lot of your personality that comes through when you’re dancing, so people will be able to see that and say, “Wow, that girl has something that I haven’t seen before,” even if she’s maybe worse than someone else technically. Maybe someone is better at doing lines, or her turns are fantastic, but another dancer has more heart to give it, and that makes them more compelling to watch.

Dance is, in a way, all about the audience. What appeals to the audience, what kind of person people can connect with.

JS: What are dancers trying to do through dance?

SK: I think dancers always want to communicate something, whatever it may be; trying to convey emotion or expression through their body. It’s another art form. It’s another way to express yourself.

There’s also the physical aspect of it. It’s obviously a good way to exercise. You definitely get a good workout from dance. To me, it’s like the best kind of exercise because it’s the most fun. It’s not like going for a run, which is torture. Even if you have a bad class, it’s still something that’s fun and enjoyable.

JS: Your younger sister is dancing at a dance school in Germany. Do you ever wish that you had done something like that?

SK: Yes. I think I never really seriously thought about it. I don’t think I ever really knew in high school what I wanted to do, even now I still don’t, but I think, after graduating, after dancing and then this year not dancing as much, it’s made me think, “Oh man, I really miss it.” And whenever I see a show or something that inspires me in dance I’m like, “I just want to do that.”

My sister got to pretty much dance the whole summer in random places and I thought, “Wow, that would be really fun, I wish I could do that!” It’s just my mom knew a lot about it after me, because I was the first. After I went through it, I tried to do some stuff like that but it was later on. My sister tried really early and she got into the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Academy, which gave her quite a big advantage. It gave her a lot of training that was invaluable.

JS: What are you looking forward to in your dance future?

SK: Well, right now I’m teaching classes at my studio and I really enjoy it. It’s just the really young kids right now, but I think I could definitely get better at teaching. I think it would be great if I could be a part of their lives like my teachers were a part of mine.

Generally, the teachers that I’ve had are all really nice, and they care about the students because they teach them every single year from such a young age. When [dancers] graduate the teachers are often quite sad because, you know, they’ve taught that person for so long. With dance you see those people every week, so you develop a relationship with your teachers.

I think the role of the teacher is really cool and I look forward to working with kids as they go through each year and develop their skills like I did.

Jaclyn Sinclair

Student with an interest in all things Lifestyle, with a particular love for photography and photo-journalism.


  • Avatar
    Reply December 6, 2013

    Cindy St-Laurent

    I’m very impressed with how you took a normal conversation about dance and turned it into a very interesting Q & A piece. I honestly didn’t tackle this type of article because I was to scared that I’d ask questions that didn’t lead to enough insightful answers. This really made me miss dance. I wonder if maybe our generation is too pressured into following what people consider “proper degrees” and we give up to much on our goals for safety, even if were not guaranteed jobs in the end.

  • Megan Renaud
    Reply December 9, 2013

    Megan Renaud

    I like that this piece is a Q&A. I think that this format worked well with the story. I understand her passion for dance. Dancing myself for many years, it was hard to quit when I went to University. Good for her for going back to her passion.

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