Student Spotlight: Sumi Matsumoto ’11 Dancing From Boston to Scotland

When Sumi Matsumoto ’11 started dancing, she thought it was just a way to kill time. “While my sister was taking gymnastics classes, my mom just put me in some little kid ballet classes just so that she could have some time free for herself,” she said. Those lessons helped develop her passion. “I just loved it,” she said, smiling. Although Matsumoto was first introduced to dance through her ballet classes, she didn’t start serious ballet until about age nine. But ballet is not Matsumoto’s only speciality. “Probably tap [dance] is my favorite, [because] it’s really rhythmic. You can do it either really technically or in big performance numbers, too,” she said. Although she admits to being more of a “classical dancer” that stays true to “ballet, modern, tap, jazz and point,” Matsumoto has taken classes of different dances, such as Indian, Flamenco and Ballroom. She said, “[Other types of dances] are all really fun and different, but it’s really not a main interest of mine.” Matsumoto thinks of dancing as a great combination of sport and an art. “It’s a really great workout and a big way to relieve stress,” she said. Matsumoto also choreographed a Dance Open piece her Junior year. When choreographing her own dances, she watches “a lot of famous choreographers.” She incorporates her observations with various parts of dances she has seen, finally blending them to create her own original style. Matsumoto explained, “I mostly use music for ideas. Watching other people dance and other pieces is also a great way to get inspired.” In her spare time, she watches recordings of different shows and tries to go to ballet shows in Boston. Her personal favorites? “I love Romeo and Juliet”; her favorite dance movies include “Center Stage” and the classic “Dirty Dancing,” said Matsumoto. Dance is evidently a huge part of her life. It has brought her to meet a lot of new people. “Many of my friends are from dance. It’s [a good way] to get to know people.,” she said. She also explains that dance is her creative outlet and has brought her to be a more care-free person, “I think I would have been really serious if not for dance!” Matsumoto’s accomplishments even go abroad, as she participated in the Fringe Festival in Scotland this past summer. She considers it “one of [her] favorite shows” because of its “great environment.” However, “as far as the dancing goes,” she said, “my favorite show was last March in ‘Sleeping Beauty.’” Matsumoto is sure that dancing will definitely be a huge part of her life in the future. Inspired by her dance-teacher mom, she also wants to pursue teaching. “Even if being a professional dancer only lasts about 10 years, you can keep teaching and inspiring others.” Despite her aspirations, Matsumoto doesn’t want to go to a conservatory. “I definitely want to keep dancing and will probably even major in dance. But I want to be well-rounded too. I mean, that is why I came to PA,” she said. Her advice perspective dancers: “It’s never too late to start. I mean, for ballet, people think you need to start when you’re like three, but I think it’s really just being creative and being yourself. It’s a great way to just express yourself, or get a work out, or be creative…Whatever you want to get from it!” “If you put your mind to it, you can get better.”