Skillful Dancer: Meet Danika MolinaSpending most of her time practicing in the studio, she is a competitive dancer
Posing for her picture in the lake, freshman Danika Molina holds her stance. Molina has been a dancer since she was two years old and has ever since competed. “ I love my sport because it allows me to express myself when I can’t find the right words.”
Photo credits: Evolve Dance Center
Walking out on stage with the crowd roaring and anxiety rushing through her bones, freshman Danika Molina takes her position. Hearing her music play in the background as a cue to start, she puts on a smile and begins to rhythmically move her body like she rehearsed at the studio.
Like most expert athletes, Molina started her career in contemporary dance at a young age.
“I have been dancing for 12 years. It is pretty crazy because I can’t really remember a time where I wasn’t dancing,” Molina said. “My dad originally wanted me to be a soccer player, but I really am not that kind of person. He took me to a dance lesson one day instead and that was the moment I absolutely fell in love with the sport. My favorite style of dance is contemporary because it is the most expressive. I love to dance to popular songs. Fast and slow. It just shows how creative dance can be.”
Dedicated to improving, Molina spends most of her free time at her studio, Evolve Dance Center, and usually trains about 20 hours every week.
“Dancing requires lots of hard work and dedication, but that is one of the things that I love about it,” Molina said. “My dance inspiration is my teacher because she has a really strong work ethic and you can tell that she really loves what she does, I aspire to be like her.”
Having a difficult time juggling school and dance, Molina has had an easier time balancing life with the ongoing pandemic.
“My main struggle is keeping myself up to date with schoolwork,” Molina said. “Our practices normally end at either 8:30 or 9 p.m., which gives me very limited time to eat dinner, get ready for the next day, and do all of my schoolwork. However, school being online this year has definitely made balancing school and dance a lot easier.”
Competitions are a great way to demonstrate skill, however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Molina has not been able to travel as much.
“I am on the competition team at my studio, and have been competing for nine years,” Molina said. “Pre-COVID-19, my team and I would travel all over the west coast, mainly California and Arizona for large-scale competitions. I mostly compete in competitions where we perform as a group. You go before a giant crowd, on a huge stage, and a panel of intimidating judges.”
Molina’s favorite competition moment comes from when she was a new and young dancer.
“At the end of a competition, the event holds an awards ceremony and sometimes if there are really special awards that they give out, they usually let the dancers come up and talk to the Master of Ceremonies,” Molina said. “When I was younger, I had to go up to one of the MC’s and I had such a squeaky, high-pitched voice at the time, so when I spoke into the microphone, everyone in the whole auditorium laughed and I didn’t know why. Looking back on this memory makes me smile because I just thought that everyone found what I was saying to be really funny.”
Performing in front of hundreds can be intense, but for Molina, having teammates by her side through the process helps her to stay calm and focused.
“I get nervous all the time. Performing with a group helps calm those nerves,” Molina said. “All of my teammates are really important to me. We all get nervous, but usually once the music starts, we all calm down, relax, and do what we love.”
Although dancing is a big part of Molina’s life, she does not see this rolling into her future.
“Honestly, I am not striving to be a professional dancer when I grow up. What I really want to do for my career is be a dermatologist or a pharmacist,” Molina said. “Even though dancing is a very big part of my life, I want to branch out and try new things. I will continue to dance as long as my body will let me. I love my sport because it allows me to express myself when I can’t find the right words. Without dance, I do not know what I would do.”