Sophie Landay ’14 did not intend to be a dancer when she first came to Andover. Though she had been taking ballet classes since age three, she was beginning to lose interest in them and was planning to stop dancing in high school.
Landay initially returned to dance only to fulfill her Winter Term sport requirement during her Junior year. It was during these winter dance classes that she was exposed to modern dance for the first time, reigniting her love for dance.
“I didn’t like it at first since ballet was the only thing I had ever done, and it felt so strange to me because it’s a very different kind of movement. But once I got the hang of it, I totally fell in love with it, and I’ve been doing ever since,” said Landay.
Landay is now involved in two of Andover’s signaturedance groups, Andover Dance Group (ADG) and Blue Strut.
With hour-and-a-half long modern classes four days a week, plus ADG and Blue Strut rehearsals several times a week, Landay devotes more than ten hours to dance each week.
Throughout her years at Andover, Landay’s accomplishments in dance have allowed her to “work up the ladder” in the dance program. Though she started with only supporting roles in the pieces, Landay recently landed a major solo in the ADG “Rhythms of Hope” show.
“Probably my proudest moment was having the solo in the ADG show [“Rhythms of Hope”] a couple weeks ago…. I’ve been in ADG since the start of my Lower year, and I’ve always had backup roles and supporting roles and big group number roles,” said Landay.
A story of personal expression and growth in maturity andfreedom, “Rhythms of Hope” addressed themes about individuals and their connection to their communities.
“I had a solo about shedding labels that other people put on you and learning to define yourself and brush off insults and boundaries that people try to put around you,” said Landay. “[That] was particularly relevant to me, not so much now, but definitely in middle school. I think a lot of people are like this in middle school, but they just want to be like everyone else, they want to conform, and they don’t want to stand out. And that’s something that I’ve learned to avoid in the past few years. I’ve learned to define myself, be myself and not try to look or act like everyone else.”
Looking back, Landay believes that she has not only developed as a person, but has also grown as a dancer at Andover.
“I have learned to put myself into my dancing, and I think that’s because I’m doing modern instead of ballet now. I always liked ballet, but I had trouble relating to it, because its very structured, very proper. There was always a feeling for me of going through the motions with it. And in modern, I’ve always felt that I can add my own flair to it. I can put more of my emotions and my feelings into my dance, which is more fun and more exciting to watch,” said Landay.
For Landay, being required to take dance classes ended up being one of the best things to happen to her at Andover.
“When I first started taking modern class, I got fed upreally quickly with it, since I wasn’t used to it, I wasn’t good at it, because it felt so strange. It was just kind of foreign to me. And I am so glad that I was required to do it… because you can’t really have fun playing something or performing something until you’re good at it. So it took me about a year to really start to love modern. But I’m so glad I stuck with it because I really do love it now,” she said.
Landay does not plan on studying dance formally in college, but she hopes to take dance classes and join a student-run performance group.