Sofia Amorim's dance teaching journey isn't like your typical dance story. Humans by nature are insecure. When Sofia started dancing, she didn’t see any ‘girls like her’ dance. She was 8 years old and pretty overweight. Sofia still struggles with her weight. She may be a size 18, but that does not stop me from doing anything on the dance floor. She can do any split, any high kick, and any leap with the rest of the dancers. This goes to show that anyone can be a dancer and break the stereotypes of what a dancer should be or look like that many dancers struggle with.
Sofia didn’t think she would ever be able to dance on pointe, and not only does she, but she teaches it too. Dance can be scary when you don’t have a reference to measure your progress on, but you just need to remember to do it for yourself. No one else will believe you if you lack conviction, so why not give it your all and dazzle ‘em in the process. Sofia took a singular dance class, just for fun, that was taught by a former Rockette, and the other students were theater/performance majors. From that class, Sofia got to be in a very different atmosphere and approach dance from a different perspective.
After that class, she embraced the performance aspect more as to where before she had been primarily focused on technique. Now, Sofia incorporates performance exercises into our warm-ups where she teaches at the Academy of Dance in Union, N.J.
The confidence of that teacher and the dancers was contagious. This is initially where Sofia was considered about being able to keep up with the other dancers skill and technique-wise. However, she realized that she could certainly hold her own. Sofia was encouraged to get out of her head and bring forth the characters into her own performances.
There are many rewarding moments that come from being a dance teacher. For Sophia, it’s hard to pick one, but to be quite frank the most memorable experiences for her are always those ‘transition’ dances, where the younger dancers hit that turning point in their development and showcase this maturation that stops your heart as you watch.
Another memorable moment for Sofia teaching at AoD has been the studio’s 25th Anniversary show. They had a throwback theme where they brought back a bunch of old dances.
As a dancer, Sofia was so excited to do dances she remembered watching and wanting to do but couldn’t because she was too young and then teaching her girls dances that she had done and loved.
The best memory for that was that it was her senior year, so they did their director’s senior dance, and Sofia got to dance with her. Since the former director recently passed very unexpectedly, it’s a memory Sofia will forever and always cherish. This year, for AoD's 30th anniversary, Sofia will be dancing it with her girls.
Because of the current pandemic, AoD has had to move to online instruction. This is hard because a lot of the teachers live in cramped apartments, so space is an issue, but also the younger girls are not necessarily prepared for online learning. Sofia believes it requires a level of independence that they haven’t yet developed. Because of the mirror imaging, directives can be confusing for them, but because of the 30-minute window, their class time is cut in half.
Teaching dance has impacted the dance community in Sofia's community more so to let their kids know that they are here for them in every way.
AoD is very much a dance family; they dance together but celebrate birthdays, graduations, and other important milestones. They are a studio that uses dances as a way of coming together, but as individuals, always dole out unconditional support. They are a community of professional and personal development. Sofia has had a strong connection to every teacher she's ever had in the studio. They were such great bits of help for Sofia in her own personal life, but also in academic work. She hopes to be able to do the same for her students.
Sofia believes that dancers don't get nearly a fraction of the respect they should. Nor does she think society truly appreciates what dancers bring to the table. But, that doesn’t mean that dancers haven’t done anything for the world. Sofia thinks you have to develop that appreciation first, but once you do, you see how movement can be cathartic and how it serves as a great outlet for processing and coping with what you feel emotionally, and using physicality to showcase it.
Get outside of your head! Go with the flow, have fun with it, and above all, own it! I stick primarily to jazz, ballet, tap, and lyrical, but is currently learning a hip hop dance. It may be outside of my realm, but it’s fun to try and translate my skills, but even more, it's fun when you get it right!
Sofia is content where she is now but is eager to support anyone she knows who wants to. Sofia had a blast participating in the local high school’s Dancing with the Staff project. Local studios volunteered dance teachers to be paired with high school teachers to compete in a dance competition, and it has to be, by far, one of the most stellar experiences Sofia has ever had the pleasure of participating in. Sofia plans to try and rebuild herself as a teacher and help AoD as a studio since they are trying to get more students.