Angela Whitehill — GUEST BLOGGER
Renata had grown up in the Metropolitan area until she was eight when the family moved to New England. The parents, a museum curator and a lawyer, wanted only the best for their young daughter. At 4 she started to play the piano, and although getting her to practice was no small task, she progressed from Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to Stars and Stripes and Claire de Lune, but her heart wasn’t in it.At 6 she switched to soccer. Renata was an active child and did well, but after a year she switched to softball and skiing, enjoying the fresh air and camaraderie of the team sports.
At 6 she switched to soccer. Renata was an athletic child and did well, but after a year she switched to softball and skiing, enjoying the fresh air and camaraderie of the team sports. ” She needs something else, gymnastics,” said her mother -, gymnastics it was.!.. And she excelled, she loved the jumping, walking on her hands, tumbling and turning, maybe she would become a STAR! Maybe even make the Olympics or at least the state team !!!
So gymnastics it was.!.. And she excelled, she loved the jumping, walking on her hands, tumbling and turning, maybe she would become a STAR! Maybe even make the Olympics or at least the state team !!! “Better add some dance, she needs the grace,” commented Dad.
And she started ballet! She loved that too. Within two years she was dancing Clara, the lead child in Nutcracker. She was committed to dance and dance and dance…
“But what about the gymnastic team? • said Mom ” … or playing sports in high school?” Said Dad “or acting in school plays?” No! This is what I want to do, “ and she dug her heels in. “ I want to give up all the other stuff and just dance” .. she said.
“But your friends! the high school experiences you’ll miss! the football games and dances and … you’ll have no time for boyfriends. ” But nothing would deter her and her parents understood Renata was developing her own personality, they had to let go and recognize her and a budding adult!!
For the next 5 years, she was in the ballet studio every day after school, with rehearsals on the weekends, and performances on holidays. She sailed through high school, no drinking or experimenting for her, she was going to dance, and with dance, she had no time for any of that. ‘I need my body in tip top shape”.
And soon it was time to prepare for college. “But I want to dance, I’ll be too old by the time I finish college! I need a couple of years before that. My brain won’t atrophy but my muscles might.”
Family discussions followed, tears and tantrums, a few slammed doors, despair and sadness and teenage drama filled the house. The fact is that the parents loved their child and wanted the best for her. She’d had all the advantages of a successful middle-class family and they didn’t- They wanted her to step out of the mold.
“Everyone goes to college as soon as they graduate from high school.” they said.
” I’ve GOT to dance “she wailed
But, Dad had grown up in Europe so he was familiar with the “gap year”. And eventually, they came to a compromise. Renata would visit the colleges of the family choice ( on her way to and from a summer dance intensive of course!), she agreed to do the essays, fill out all the applications and prepare to get into the college of their choice. Once she was accepted she would audition to become an apprentice with a company and if she was successful she would ask to defer from college for a year or two – Gap Years!
Renata’s forty now with a doctorate from an Ivy League school. She danced for two gap years, she danced with a small professional company through college (It wasn, easy but she made it work), she danced soloist roles only in a small city company while she worked as an intern in a children’s hospital. It wasn, until her second year of graduate school that she finally stopped dancing, only to pick up salsa dancing alter her doctorate and while completing a fellowship at John Hopkins Hospital!
She is a professor now, at a highly respected New England University, she has her own lab and all that goes with success … .. and for recreation, she does handstands in the air, splits into a “base” hands and knees, arabesques and attitudes on their shoulders
ACRO YOGA a combination of yoga, dance, and gymnastics.
And she understands what amazing parents she had, who allowed her to follow her dreams!
Angela Whitehill, Founding Artistic Director of Burklyn Ballet Theatre was trained by the National Ballet of Canada and at the Arts Educational Schools in London. She danced professionally with the Ballet Paris, Jack Emile Litler and Jack Hylton Productions in England and Europe. She is the Founding Artistic Director of London School of Ballet, USVI, Shore Ballet School and Company, NJ, Burklyn Ballet Theatre, VT, Burklyn Youth Ballet, Edinburgh Scotland, VT Ballet Theatre, Dance Council, Burklyn Ballet Designs and Not JUST Tutus.
Ms. Whitehill has served as Artistic Director of Paradise Ballet Key West, FL, Huntington Ballet and The Long Island Ballet NY. She has also served as principal designer for The Atlanta Ballet under the direction of Robert Barnett, New Jersey Ballet, Burklyn Youth Ballet, Scottish American Ballet and has been given critical acclaim by the Scotsman for her designs of Aladdin and Cinderella and the Flower Fairies at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and in Dance Teacher Magazine
She has received numerous awards including VT Woman of The Year 1996, Dance Teacher Magazine Award 2012. She is the co -author of 5 books on classical ballet. However, the achievement Ms. Whitehill is most proud of is to have been chosen to serve as Adjudicator for RDA SW region in 2009 and 2014.