CityDance Community Programs Tutoring Liason, Teaching Intern, and CityDance Conservatory Graduate.
Read her full bio after the interview.
1. WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU WANTED TO START TEACHING?
I realized that I wanted to start teaching first when I was working with Victoria (CityDance student). But at that time I wasn’t in a place to make that happen after she left CityDance. When I started working with the DREAM rehearsals and talking with Kelli (Director of Community Programs), I realized that it was something that I wanted to do a lot more of.
2. HOW WAS BEING AT CITYDANCE IMPACTED YOUR TEACHING STYLE AND PERSPECTIVE?
CityDance has pretty much shaped my teaching style and perspective. From being in the studio and experiencing first hand what it is like to be a student I was also given an idea of what is valued in a teacher and what works in terms of connecting with your class. Coming in as a teaching assistant intern last year allowed me to observe and work with great teachers and understand how different age ranges of children require different approaches.
3. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PARTS ABOUT THE CITYDANCE DREAM PROGRAMS AND CITYDANCE SCHOOL AND CONSERVATORY?
My favorite part about the DREAM program and the School & Conservatory is the connection between the teachers, administration, and the students. While at the Conservatory I always knew that my teachers and the administration were there for more than just teaching dance. What I’ve seen and experienced first hand with the students in the DREAM programs is that they see CityDance as a group of people who teach them dance, but are also there to listen and help with any problems they may have. The group of students that we now tutor feel comfortable and trust the people enough to come forward and ask for help when they need it.
4. ARE THERE PARTICULAR LIFE LESSONS THAT YOU HOPE THAT YOUR STUDENTS WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THEIR TUTORING SESSIONS?
I hope that the students are able to get through any class they are in. Although they realize it may be tough at first to put into practice, the only voices they need to pay attention to are the ones telling them that they can do something. I know that so many times when a young student isn’t doing well in a class it has nothing to do with whether or not they are capable, but instead its because they have lack confidence and don’t believe they are smart enough. I strongly believe that the biggest step you can help a student with is to build their confidence. When they build their confidence they will automatically begin to do better.
5. TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR TIME AS A MENTOR AT THE SCHOOL & CONSERVATORY?
At CityDance at Strathmore, being in the Conservatory placed us in a mentoring role for younger dancers. After being there for so long I hope that the other Conservatory Dancers and myself were able to provide some support and guidance for the other developing dancers.
6. WHAT INSPIRED YOU THE MOST ABOUT BEING A MENTOR?
Part of mentoring someone is taking your experiences and what you know and using them to make things easier for someone else. I wasn’t a mentor through the Conservatory in any official capacity, but I do hope that somewhere along the way I was able to help someone or give someone some advice that helped them in their time at the studio or afterwards.
7. IS THERE A DANCE COMPANY OR PROFESSIONAL THAT INSPIRES YOU FROM THE COMMUNITY?
Actually, when asked to think of an inspiring organization, the first one that came to mind was CityDance. I will never forget how involved the artists at CityDance were with my dance education. They were my teachers and mentors and it was inspiring to see all of the work that they did and the passion that they had for it. I also think that it is so important to acknowledge how willing they were to bring us students from the Conservatory into their shows and give us exposure to this next level of the dance world.
8. AS A SENIOR AT GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO AFTER GRADUATION?
With my senior year almost over at the George Washington University, I am most looking forward to taking some time after graduation to travel and see my family. I plan on taking a few weeks and going to see each side of my family in Germany and Morocco. It will be a much needed time to breath before I jump right into law school!
Our Friday feature is on Sophia Herbst who has been part of the CityDance community since 2006. As a CityDance Conservatory Student she has performed in many summer intensive shows and fundraising performances. Three years after joining the CityDance family, she started serving as the Teaching Intern for CityDance’s Community Programs and has chaperoned several Wizards rehearsals. As a senior at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Sophia plans on becoming a child advocate and attending law school after graduation. She was born in Munich, Germany and was raised in California where she trained in all different forms of dance and performed in Las Vegas and all throughout California.
Interview by Berenice Medina, Senior at American University, Marketing and Development Intern for CityDance