Kalysta Gregory - October 2015 Judges' Choice

At the age of two years old, my mom put me in a dance class at Jeanne Lynn Dance Studio in St. Petersburg, Florida, which recently celebrated its 50th recital! After my first couple years of taking combo classes, I started taking full classes in ballet, jazz and tap. Today, I take classes in almost all genres of dance including acrobatics. My favorite styles of dance are tap, jazz, lyrical and musical theatre but tap is special to me. I love how in tap I can be part of the music with rhythms, sounds and shading.  There are many styles of tap and I enjoy doing them all.

Fifteen to twenty hours at my dance studio a week seems like a lot but I love every minute of it. Each one of the amazing teachers there has played a part in the dancer I have become today. I am extremely thankful for every one of them.  My first solo teacher, Ms. Sarah Beth, has had a huge impact on my life. She taught me to get out of my “shell”; to really perform and share my love of dance on stage. She inspires me to be the best person I can be, both inside the studio and out. Also, Amy Martin, the studio director, celebrates with me on new accomplishments and adventures on my dance journey, in addition to being there to offer advice and support.  I am thankful for my Jeanne Lynn Dance Studio Family!

In addition to learning at my studio, I attend multiple conventions, festivals, intensives and workshops each year. I first met Nick Dinicolangelo, who is the tap teacher at Adrenaline Dance Convention, in Orlando. Because of his fun personality and tap style, I knew after taking a couple tap classes with him that weekend that I wanted to work with him more. I am very blessed that my parents support my love for dance. They made it possible for me to do a solo with him as well as attend Syncopate Tap Intensive in New Jersey which he teaches at. Working with Nick Dinicolangelo, choreographer of my solo “Bad Blood”, was so amazing! Even though we went into the session focused on getting the solo completed, we had a lot of fun too! I thoroughly enjoy performing this solo. While the tap steps are fast and difficult, it lends itself to playfulness and allows me to really enjoy simply performing! Nick is an amazing choreographer and I look forward to working with him more in the future.

Something that I always try to keep in mind is that everyone’s dance journey is unique to them. Each person dances for different reasons. I try not to compare myself to other dancers. My goal is always be the best version of myself I can be. Also, I truly want to enjoy every step on my personal dance journey. Everything that happens, whether good or bad, is just another step closer to becoming the best person I can be. Last, it’s important to put the work in. Working hard in the studio and rehearsals will always pay off. Therefore, my advice to other dancers would be to never give up; always push yourself to be the absolute best you can be and stay true to yourself. Don’t try to be like everybody else. You are special and God created you to be unique.

While I don’t have a crystal ball to know exactly what the future holds for me, I do know one thing: I want dance to be a part of it. I will finish high school as a home schooled student which is what I have always been. Doing so provides flexibility in order for me to pursue my goals.

Thank you for choosing my video as the October 2015 - Judges’ Choice Award. This money will be used to further my dance education and growth.