Gracing center stage

by Christina Calderon, staff writer

With the lights shining down on her, her tutu in perfect position, and her ballet shoes strapped on tightly, senior Nicola Stone is ready for another performance.

Stone is no stranger to performances and has been dancing since the age of three. Fourteen years later, dance is still very much a part of Stone’s life.

She started out in ballet at San Ramon Valley Dance Academy (SRVDA) and continuously took dance classes for about five years before she took a break from dance.

A few years later, Stone went back to SRVDA. In addition to re-joining the SRVDA company Stone began taking Dance 5 at Cal.

“I went back to dance because I liked it the best, and I was good at it,” Stone said.

Stone’s mom recalls seeing her dance as a child and recognizing that she had an uncanny ability for the art.

“You could tell when she was on stage that she was a natural. We knew this was her thing,” said Stone’s mom, Jane Stone.

As of now, Stone is taking  dance classes in six different styles including ballet, modern, tap, pointe, hip hip, and jazz.

She dances around 12 hours a week, and 13 to 14 hours  during rehearsals.

Stone is able to clear her mind of other things while in dance class and focuses only on her dancing.

“When you’re in class, you’re in class,” Stone said. “You think about what you’re doing then.”

Stone auditioned into SRVDA’s Senior Jazz Company and has been in this company for six years. Holly Morrow has been one of Stone’s instructors at SRVDA for five years.  Currently, she teaches Stone in ballet, pointe, and modern.

“Nicola is an exquisite dancer who has a very feminine movement quality who takes her training very seriously,” Morrow said. “She is an expressive mover and a beautiful girl in all ways.”

This past summer, Stone participated in try-outs in order to attend a four-week long ballet intensive hosted by Ballet West Academy in Salt Lake City. She successfully made it through try-outs and was able to spend four weeks training and taking classes to improve her ballet skills.

Stone also attends dance competitions and conventions.  Some of the conventions  gave her the chance to take lessons taught by dancers from the hit show “So You Think You Can Dance.”

“It was pretty cool,” Stone said. “You can go up to them after and take pictures and talk to them.”

In addition, her schedule is packed with six to seven performances with SRVDA per year. Stone’s favorite show to dance in is the company’s annual rendition of The Nutcracker.

Over the years she’s   played a wide variety of roles within the show, including  Peppermint Corps, Snow Corps, and most recently, the star role of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Senior Glory Pinheiro, a friend of Stone’s, has witnessed her improvement in various dance styles.

“In the Nutcracker show, she has advanced into harder dances,” Pinheiro said. “In the Cal dance shows, she has widened her style from ballet to hip hop.”

Her parents and brother are supportive of her passion by seeing her hard work pay off.

“I’m very proud when I see her dance,” Jane Stone adds. “She’s a beautiful dancer and she works hard, she has blossomed.”

Stone hopes to attend college in Southern California, mainly because of the many universities with strong dance programs. She’s applied as a dance major, and looks forward to  the auditions at the various colleges.

“She’s worked very hard to be a precise mover and to absorb the intension behind choreography,” said Morrow. The audition process for a university dance program can be strenuous, but her family and friends are confident that she’ll do well.

“She’s always focused on her dances but you can tell she’s having fun with it from her smile,” Pinheiro said.

Stone’s even considered making a career out of dancing.

“I would want to become a professional dancer first, then teach later,”  said Stone.

She still has decisions to make about her future, but she’s  motivated to continue on with her journey as a dancer.

“I like seeing myself get better,” Stone said.“When you have a bad day, dancing makes it better.”