Alexandra May Ballance doesn’t want to just perform a dance. This Potomac teen has already taken the next step as an established choreographer and costume designer.
The 13-year-old will be performing this weekend at Dance Bethesda and although she may be the event’s youngest choreographer, her work has already been featured in several events throughout the DC region.
“Water Between Us” is the expression of the ups and downs of relationships and friendships through the simple and ever-changing form of water, Alexandra said.
“It represents the feelings people have for one another,” she said. “Like if there’s a hurricane or tsunami, it’s when you’re mad at someone, and a brook represents calmness.”
She came up with the piece nearly a year ago, and then asked other dancers from her class to learn the piece and perform it with her.
Her mother Andrea, sister Sofia and grandmother Susan Shewchuk dance as well at the studio and many of her dances are created in her grandparent’s home in Potomac, without mirrors and with her family as an audience.
Alexandra is a member of the studio’s Youth Dance Ensemble, a group of dancers ranging in age from first grade through high school, who are serious about their craft, instructor Helen Hayes said.
Alexandra started dancing at age two and taking classes at age four, joining the Youth Dance Ensemble in 2006.
“It helps me express myself, but it’s also fun,” she said, adding that dance connects people beyond just spoken word. And, she credits her instructor for her success.
“She has a remarkable gift,” Hayes said. “We recognize that gift and give her the opportunity to work on her craft and continue to grow.”
Alexandra’s first choreographed piece “Disconnections” was created in 2008 when she was 9. In Hayes’ class, dancers learn not only the technique, but the tools to create pieces as well, something she admits she didn’t learn until college.
This isn’t the first time Alexandra’s work has been featured in a DC area event. Her award-winning work was performed at the Kennedy Center, Atlas Performing Arts Center and several other locations.
To earn a spot at Dance Bethesda, Alexandra sent in a video of her quartet’s performance.
“I’m really proud of my work and I’m surprised it was accepted,” Alexandra said. “ A big part of my piece is the other dancers.”
Hayes said other Joy of Motion dancers have been featured at Dance Bethesda in the past, including Hayes who performed in the event’s first year.
As for Alexandra, Hayes said she’s a standout.
“She’s 13 going on 30,” Hayes said, of Alexandra’s talent. “There’s some things you can teach and there are other things you can recognize and help flourish.”
But, for Alexandra dancing is still fun and although she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, she continues to toy with her writing through poetry and other art like photography and drawing. She designed the quartet’s costumes for the piece as well.
Alexandra will perform Saturday at 8 p.m. with fellow dancers Lindsay Bergman, Allison Eigsti and Hannah Stebbins to an instrumental version of U2’s “Beautiful Day,” by Vitamin String Quartet.