Sophia Erbentraut brings her A game while balancing four different dance teams and studios


The deed of commitment comes single-handedly with being a dancer. The countless hours solely dedicated to rehearsals soak up the majority of a dancer’s lifestyle. Most commonly, dancers commit to a single studio or team; but for freshman Sophia Erbentraut, she has exceeded that amount and has dedicated her time, hard work, and determination to four different dance platforms.

As mentioned, Sophia belongs to a total of four teams: David Matthews Studio, Ada Dance Academy, West Michigan Youth Ballet (WMYB), and, for the first time this year, FHC’s Varsity Dance Team (FHCVDT). Individually, each team gives her the opportunity to showcase different styles of dance.

“I do mostly ballet at Ada [Dance Academy] and WMYB,” Sophia said, “but at David Matthews, I do contemporary.”

Contemporary is a style of expressive dance that combines elements of several genres including modern, jazz, lyrical, and ballet. When dancing contemporary, Sophia’s goal is to connect the mind and body through fluid movements. 

The complete opposite of contemporary is hip hop: a genre that FHVDT specializes in. Jazz and hip hop are the dance team’s definite strong suits. However, Sophia prefers her specialties: ballet and contemporary.

“I’m a little nervous [to join dance team] because I’m not a hip hop or jazz dancer,” Sophia said, “so it’ll be out of my comfort zone doing those styles of dance.”

Sophia’s weeks consist primarily of school and dance. It’s a back and forth rotation between her academics and her passion. At Ada Dance Academy and WMYB, Sophia attends classes once a week for both studios. At David Matthew’s, Sophia goes four times a week. Due to her busy dance schedule as a freshman, her daily rituals can become stressful. 

“It can get hard if I have a long night of dance with no breaks and [unfinished] homework,” Sophia said. “After a long weekend of competing or performing, I don’t get much time to do my school work.”

The sport of dance is extremely time consuming for her; however, with the outbreak of COVID-19, Sophia has received some small breaks from her dance life. Though, she certainly didn’t enjoy those breaks from doing what she loves.

Looking at the upcoming competition season, Sophia sees it as very unpredictable. Competitions may be on, or they may be called off. Sophia’s nerves from the thought of not being able to compete are overtaking her, but she’s still hoping for the best possible outcome.

“I feel like [COVID-19] might shut down competitions,” Sophia said, “making it so I can’t compete, which would suck.”

Sophia isn’t just nervous about competition cancellations; she is nervous about The Nutcracker cancellation as well. 

“It might shut down The Nutcracker because of how many people come to see it,” Sophia said. “It might make it unsafe for people.” 

Potentially, this will be Sophia’s seventh year as a part of WMYB’s The Nutcracker. She has danced an unbelievable amount of roles in the performance: Clara (the lead), Reed Flute, Chinese Lead, Spanish Lead, Angel, Party Girl, Soldier Doll and more. 

“My favorite role was definitely Clara,” Sophia said. “My goal is to perform Snow Queen in the future.”

Sophia’s future in dance is currently unknown, but what is known is how impressive Sophia’s 2019-2020 dance season was. She auditioned for Pacific Northwest Ballet School (PNB) in Seattle, Washington which is a five-week experience of a summer dance intensive that consists strictly of ballet. 

“I had to audition with many other amazing dancers in front of professionals,” Sophia said. “I got in last year, but couldn’t go due to COVID-19.”

Despite Sophia’s unfortunate luck with PNB, earlier in the year, Sophia earned the opportunity to join David Matthews Studio on trips to Houston, Texas, and Indianapolis, Indiana. This trip was for the Youth America Grand Prix, the largest dance student ballet competition and team. With Sophia’s determination and talent, she placed in the top 12 for her contemporary solo at YAGP. Placing in the top 12 at YAGP is considered highly impressive for Sophia as dancers from all over the country attend. Additionally, one of Sophia’s group dances placed third. 

“My favorite role was definitely Clara (the lead),” Sophia said. “My goal is to perform Snow Queen in the future.

— Sophia Erbentraut

“Last year was so fun,” Sophia said. “YAGP is all over the country, but this year, we don’t even know where we’re going.”

Unfortunately, the pandemic has been holding Sophia back a bit in regards to her goals within dance. However, she still maintains to keep her three main goals in the back of her head: to get into one summer intensive, place well at YAGP, and perform Snow Queen in The Nutcracker. Specifically, she longs to be accepted into the PNB summer intensive again since she sadly couldn’t attend this past summer.

Sophia will not give up on exceeding these three expectations for herself. She continues working hard at dance everyday, improving herself and staying positive. To keep herself on her toes, Sophia envisions her role models.

“I look up to girls from my studios that have done amazing things like [graduate] Katrina Cassady, [senior] Madison Rogers, and more girls from different schools,” Sophia said.

These idols keep her grounded and help to encourage a better work ethic from her. Sophia cites these inspirations as a way to have more drive to improve. It’s even more special when that role model is a family member; Sophia’s one role model—in both life and dance—is her sister senior Lexi Erbentraut. 

“I idolize my older sister Lexi,” Sophia said. “I look up to her because she is an incredible dancer, and she has won many deserved awards.”