Forever a dancer

In freshman Alex Carlon’s life, dance is so much more than just a sport.

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Everyone has their own special way to relax and express their feelings. A way to forget their troubles, let go of their stress, rest and be themselves. For some people, it’s a good book, or maybe it’s music. Others might find it playing a sport. For Alex Carlon ‘21, that unique haven is ballet.

When Carlon first started dancing ballet at age three, she didn’t know how big of an impact dance would have on her life. She first got into dance when her mom put her in ballet class, simply because according to Carlon, that’s “just what little girls do; dance.”

Carlon continued to dance for a few more years, slowly falling in love with it day by day. But when she was six, she quit dance, due to an intimidating dance teacher.

“She would yell at us a lot, and was really stern, so like for a six year old, that’s not cool,” Carlon said, laughing.

After a couple of years missing dance, she found her way back. She realized how much she missed dancing, and through a dance program at her elementary school, she was able to rekindle her love for dance.

Carlon continued to dance all the way up until eighth grade, when she was forced to quit after being overwhelmed by school work. To her dismay, she felt as if she now had a big hole in her life, something missing where she had turned to oftentimes as a source of relaxation.

It’s kind of calming, kind of like how meditation is for some people. ”

— Alex Carlon

“Every day, I kind of missed dance, and I was always like, I wish I could take a class and relax at the end of a hard day,” Carlon said. “I like the discipline of ballet, sort of like having strict rules that you have to follow. It’s kind of calming, kind of like how meditation is for some people.”

While she didn’t have the time to dance at a studio and with a group, she occasionally found the time to continue dancing alone at home.

“I take a song I like and sort of choreograph a routine to it from stuff I’ve done in classes before or things that I’ve seen on TV or videos and make something for myself” Carlon said.

Even if it wasn’t quite the same as studio dancing, Carlon still found it to be a great stress reliever.

Although Carlon loves the solo aspect of using dance as a therapeutic measure, she also loves the social part of ballet, performing with her ballet company and making friends.

She enjoys how in a performance she can use her body to express herself and tell a story. While she hasn’t performed in a year, one of her fondest memories of performance is from seventh grade, when her ballet company at the University of Iowa Youth Ballet put on the show “Alice in Wonderland.”

Time just slows and it’s just you and the music and the choreography. The outside world just melts away.”

— Alex Carlon

“Just being on stage during that show was just a really close experience with everyone who did,” Carlon said. “Time just slows and it’s just you and the music and the choreography. The outside world just melts away.”

The discipline of ballet also makes it easy to grow close with your fellow dancers. Being cramped together in a studio for multiple hours a day, and staying in sync with each other throughout the dance really allows the growth of a deep physical and emotional bond. It was through dance that Carlon met her best friend, Elena Lee ‘21.

“It brought us closer because we had something in common,” Lee said. “It had a really positive impact on our friendship, and we have a really great connection.”

For the two of them, dance was able to nurture a friendship that has survived Lee’s move to Kansas, and they still stay in touch every week.

This September, Carlon will once again resume studio dancing, this time with the National Dance Academy, something that she’s been eagerly awaiting. Even so, she knows that if school work becomes overwhelming, dance will once again take the fall. Nevertheless, she is sure that she’ll continue to dance on her own time since dance is “kind of addicting”. While Carlon won’t pursue dance as a major in college, she is certain that she’ll always be twirling away on the dance floor for the rest of her life.

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Forever a dancer