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    • (photo: Isabelle Breier)

Isabelle Breier: Dancing Her Way To NYC

Zander Blitzer '18, Editor-At-Large
Isabelle Breier ’16 has all the typical stresses of a Hopkins student, with one added endeavor: dancing in New York City six days a week. Isabelle has been dancing since she was three years old. Now she dances at Valentina Kozlova’s Dance Conservatory of New York (VKDCNY), and travels internationally for dance competitions. 
Breier began her dancing career in response to “being that little girl looking up on the stage and at the ballerina tutus.”

Jocelyn Garrity, Breier’s Junior School advisor, said of her dancing, “Isabelle is an incredibly focused and serious student and that intensity is apparent in her dancing as well, but so is joy. The first time I saw her dance I was impressed by what a professional performer she was (and at such a young age); her face truly showed the joy and bliss she feels while dancing.” 

Classics instructor John Anderson, who saw Breier perform last year in Manhattan, said, “Isabelle’s dancing is exquisite. Her strength, grace, and expressiveness are inspiring.  Her accomplishment is doubly remarkable: one because of amount of time she has sacrificed on the road and in studio in NYC the other because of the amount of single-minded, passionate energy she has invested in her art. It’s one thing to have the raw talent, it’s another to have the determination to develop that talent without compromise.”

Breier has kept with dancing so seriously because of her enjoyment of the sport. She said, “[While performing] it just all comes together and you can be in the moment and be proud of what you’ve achieved. It’s really something special. I also get to tell a story and it’s a great mode of self expression.” Her favorite production is “The Nutcracker,” because she has performed in it during so many holiday seasons. She said “‘The Nutcracker’ never loses its charm.”

Ballet does not have traditional “competitive teams” as other sports, or even other types of dance do. Breier said, “We do competitions and you can enter as a solo or as a group of two or as a team, but it’s not a competitive team.” Of the competitions she herself has placed in, Breier said, “I came in the top ten at the Connecticut Classic Competition in 2013 and 2014, received a special prize and scholarship at VKIBC in NYC in 2013, was a finalist at VKIBC in NYC in 2015, and was in the top-placing group piece at Tanzolymp International Dance Competition in Berlin in 2014.” Breier will continue to pursue dancing in college at a recreational level but she will not pursue it professionally. She says, “While ballet will always have a special place in my heart, Hopkins has honed a greater love of academics. I have an ever-growing fascination with biology and medicine that I plan to pursue.”

As one might imagine, dancing takes over most of Breier’s life. Math instructor Elisa Turner, Breier’s advisor, said, “[Dancing] has had a big impact on everything from how to squeeze in all of her school work while spending so much time each day, traveling to which classes she can take so that her schedule allows her to have her free periods at the end of the day, and even how to make adjustments when we have all of these special schedule days!”

Dancing requires immense commitment, physical and mental stamina. Breier said, “[Dancing] helps you build endurance and stamina in a physical sense but also in an emotional sense because it’s hard work and any hard work builds character. It’s also taught me how to pace myself, and how to set goals for myself and to achieve those.”

Dance has also prepared Breier for the stresses of the pressured Hopkins environment. She said, “Dancing taught me how to deal with in the moment pressure. Before I performed and did competitions a lot, I would get very nervous when I had to give a speech or presentation or take a test. Then I did the performances and I did the competitions and it really teaches you how to deal with that stress in the moment.” 

Breier uses dance as a way to give back to the community. She founded the club Project Reach, which uses dance to engage and empower individuals with special needs. Semi-monthly, the club travels to the Foundation School, which is “a school for children and young adults with mild to moderate intellectual and physical disabilities,” according to Breier. The Hopkins student representatives create dances with these special needs students. Breier called the experience “rewarding for all those involved.” 

Breier concluded, “It’s definitely made me a lot stronger in all ways, physically and mentally, like playing any sport would. Dancing has also been really excellent preparation for the academic world, for the adult world. It’s a very precise and demanding field and it requires a lot of hard work and these are the same values that will help you later on in whatever field you decide to go into.” 
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