When freshman Ella Piontkowsky was only four years old, she already had her eye on the prize: a blue dance competition jacket just like all of her sisters’.
“When I was [young],” Ella said, “I was sitting and watching my sisters perform in a [dance] competition, and I remember the owners of the studio [were] sitting right in front of me, and I kept asking them when I could get my jacket. All the dancers wore a blue jacket, and I just kept asking her when I could get [one].”
Shortly after Ella’s next year of dance, the studio asked her to be on the competition team; Ella finally got a blue dance jacket to call her own.
Even though dance has been a vital part of her life since such a young age, she only got serious about dance more recently.
“I feel like when I was in fifth grade, I didn’t take [dance] seriously,” Ella said. “Last year, [I figured out that] I really loved [dancing] and going to all the competitions. I wanted to [participate in] as many things as I could, [so I would] go to extra competitions.”
Dance has always been a big part of Ella’s life, and she’s been dancing for the same company—Dance Creations—since she was a little four-year-old. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, her studio wasn’t able to stay open any longer.
However, her dance career did not end with the studio closure. Ella joined the FHC Varsity Dance Team this past year and absolutely loved it.
“[The dance team] was so much fun,” Ella said. “At first, I was really scared because I didn’t think I’d know anyone, but everyone was just super nice. Once we started the season, it was so easy to meet everyone.”
Knowing people on the dance team prior to starting the school year really helped Ella ease into high school with the comfort of knowing she had at least a few friends going into freshman year.
“I’ve seen [the other dancers] in the hallway and wave to them,” Ella said. “It’s always nice to know other people than just the people I’ve been going to school with my whole life, and now I have all the other people at the high school.”
To an audience member, Ella will seem cool and collected on stage while she strives to express herself through her graceful movements. But off stage, Ella isn’t as outgoing as when she’s performing under the lights. However, dance definitely helps her break out of her shell more; it brings out her more confident side.
“I love performing for other people just because I’m normally very shy,” Ella said, “but once I’m dancing, I don’t think about all the people watching me, and it’s just so fun to do; it’s very expressive in all the different styles.”
With the thrill and gracefulness of the sport came life lessons that Ella could take with her as she entered high school.
Practicing for months to perfect dances while looking elegant takes real strength and determination from each dancer—Ella is no exception.
“One big [life lesson I’ve taken away from dancing] is definitely [having more] confidence,” Ella said. “Even though you’re so prepared [for the performances], every time, you’re going to be nervous and feel like you’re not going to [do well; it always] ends up fine in the end, so you just have to have more confidence in life because you’ll hold yourself back if you don’t.”