Coming Full Circle
April 5, 2018
My name is Alice Kim and I am an everybody dance! alumna and Teaching Artist. I started my training when The Gabriella Foundation first opened its doors in 2000.
At eight years old, I possessed a voracious hunger to move; twirling in my bedroom was my bedtime ritual. My mother, who entertained my attempts at “dancing,” searched for a school for me to attend. Through the grapevine, she found a nonprofit organization that offered high-quality dance education to the children of Los Angeles. She signed me up immediately.
With my black leotard, pink tights, and ballet shoes on, I entered my first ballet class with high nerves and excitement. I still clearly remember walking into the Garden Room dance studio for the very first time. With its elegant archways that hug each wall, the fresh wood-sprung floors, and the sunlight that streamed through the ceiling-to-floor windows – it was heaven.
This was the start of a long journey to become the best dancer I could be. What began as a young love for dance transformed into a deep hunger to submerge myself into the art form. I learned all the subtle details ballet required to become a professional dancer. I lived, breathed, and ate dance as I explored and improved new steps through tireless repetition. It was through this that I developed the deeply rooted life values which I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
It thrilled me to learn new steps from my dance instructors in every class; it was a brand new opportunity to push myself to be better. With the passion came the desire to continually strive to be the best version of myself I could ever possibly be.
Through the high expectations my teachers instilled in their classes, my fascination for dance intensified as I immersed myself into the art form. I learned excellence came at a price: you needed resilience, discipline, and hard work and I learned to love the process.
My dance instructors took me under their wings, generously donating their time to give me private lessons into the wee hours of the night. I built strong relationships with my peers who became my closest friends. I learned that kindness, generosity, and loyalty were the crucial components in building a supportive community.
I continue to reach for these lessons to push through the obstacles I’ve encountered in my adult life. I was part of the first generation of dancers who started with everybody dance! during its infancy and I strongly believe that without my experience there, I would not be the strong, capable woman of today.
Eighteen years later, I am now an alumni and a Teaching Artist of everybody dance!. I am giving back to the community that has provided me with so many opportunities since childhood.
It has been an honor to transition from student to teacher in this program. As a teacher, I am now in the position to do what my everybody dance! dance instructors did for me. I teach in the same Garden Room studio where I came in eighteen years ago as a child. It is here that I now teach Ballet 3, Ballet 4, Ballet 5, and Conservatory.
It is amazing to watch how our everybody dance! dancers transform from year to year. Though all students differ in their journey, there is one common denominator in all their transformations: empowerment.
Through the process of learning dance, I see my girls transforming into confident, hardworking, and capable dancers who have many different tools to carry with them as the future generations of this world.
A student who had a difficult time speaking up, now puts her hand up to ask questions before we even start the dance combination. Instead of taking a backseat in her own learning, she is proactive in her learning. Another student had a difficult time catching up to the content of a class for a couple of years but now she’s bloomed into a leader who helps out the younger girls with difficult, technical steps. I see the legacy of the joy of dance being passed on. A student who used to be withdrawn because of extreme anxiety is now laughing and dancing fearlessly in class next to her peers. I see a student who has overcome her adversities. These are only a few examples of the many transformations I witness every day. Our dancers are sensitive and kind-hearted yet also very strong and capable.
I deeply believe that everybody dance! is changing young lives every day and hope that our program will continually be supported so that more children’s lives will be touched. The longer I exist in the dance world, the more I believe that the arts are essential to a child’s growth.
Alice Kim, everybody dance! alumna and Teaching Artist