Stepping outside of your comfort zone is never easy, yet sometimes it leads you to find happy memories that will last a lifetime. Sometimes I find myself to be adventurous, but many times, I am quiet and hold myself back from experiences. Once you open up to new opportunities, you will instantly learn more about yourself. You will discover interests, talents, and dislikes. One opportunity I will never regret taking is signing up for SOCAPA, The School Of Creative And Performing Arts, which is a summer intensive for the performing and visual arts. My first time attending this intensive was almost two years ago, and I still reminisce about these sweet memories.

I attended SOCAPA for three weeks in NYC for two summers in a row. Hesitant to take a leap into independence and professional work, I made the best memories during these summers, and I can truly say that it prepared me for the real world outside of my small town in New Jersey. Anxiously awaiting what the near future would bring, I said goodbye to my best friends and family each summer. Within the blink of an eye, I found myself in the most thrilling yet mysterious place I know, the city that never sleeps.

At SOCAPA, I learned what it was like to really be a responsible adult living on my own- from finding dinner, to which buttons to press on the washing machine, and making friends with classmates from around the globe. More importantly, I experienced first hand the life of a professional dancer, and I wouldn’t have wanted to learn about it in any other way.

My schedule was very rigorous. 7 hours of practice each day. My class learned choreography for two dances each summer that would be professionally filmed. My second summer, I set my very own solo for an additional video. Some dances were learned in only one day. Yes, 7 hours of choreography and 7 hours of cleaning the next day. It was different at my studio back home being accustomed to learning pieces within the span of a month, and dancing up to 5 hours on afternoons or evenings. While doing this, I received a taste of new ways of moving, stretching, and improving technique. It is healthy to open yourself up to new ideas, for if you are stuck in the same routine, you will never learn and expand your limits. That is an integral part of what dance is all about.

Included in our busy schedule was time for our own choreography. Each week, we were placed with new people to jointly choreograph a piece together. Some of us never met before, since we lived thousands of miles away from each other. It was not easy agreeing on everything, but we were able to mix together our unique styles to create pieces that we took great pride in and were admired by teachers and students.

During this time, I was encouraged to take classes that were outside my comfort zone. Some of these included 90s hip-hop, Fosse, and Bollywood. I enjoyed myself so much that I took similar classes when I returned home. A background in various styles of dance will prepare me for a career in this field.

The SOCAPA experience allowed me to gain a whole new perspective on adulthood. Working with professionals, living on my own, and working with people from many backgrounds whom I've never met before all helped me gain such a memorable experience.