What began as a way to occupy a bored four-year-old during her older brother’s hockey practice has become a passion, and soon a career, for Danielle Abraham.
Danielle, now 18, said her mother was happy to discover a children’s ballet class conveniently located in the same building as the hockey rink.
“It started out as ‘where can we put Danielle,’ and there just happened to be a class at the same time as my brother’s practice. My mom never realized I’d never stop dancing,” said Danielle.
Her passion for dance led her through increasingly rigorous training, and eventually to instructor Terry Fox, and the Fox Ballet Company in St. Charles.
Terry said he recognized Danielle’s potential when she studied with him early on, but said that her commitment is what sets her apart.
“I could see that she had the ability and the body, but it also takes time to see if (a student) will hang in there,” he said. “Only about one percent of people who start dance eventually move into it as a profession. It’s like a sport, you have to stick with it.”
This fall, that commitment will take Danielle to New York City, where she will study dance at the prestigious New York University Tisch School of the Arts, on scholarship.
“They audition thousands of dancers but only accept a few and she got a full ride, of which very few are given,” said Terry, also an NYU graduate. Her scholarship will fund $45,000 of the $47,000 yearly tuition at NYU.
Her favorite style of dance is traditional ballet, especially pointe work, a technique performed dancing on one’s toes.
“I was in an advanced class when I was nine and I was too young to do pointe, so I had to watch the older girls, and I fell in love with it,” she said. “When I finally got to do it, it was wonderful.”
Passion for dance infuses every area of her life. She has been a vegetarian for about a year, after discovering her body performed and felt better when she didn’t eat meat.
“As a dancer, you have to be very in tune with how your body reacts to various foods, and when I cut out meat, it allowed me to tone my body as the industry requires,” she said.
Training as a dancer has also helped her excel at school, where she has taken honors and AP classes.
“An important part of growing as a person and an artist is developing your mental ability,” she said. “There’s a lot of thinking that goes into interpreting music and choreography, and school is a way to build that.”
When Danielle decided to make dance her career, she and her instructor discussed ballet companies and college programs. Terry said that her versatility, talent and work ethic have put her on track for a bright future.
“She’s an exciting dancer, very well rounded, and able to dance classical ballet and modern,” Terry said. “She’s part of an elite group and once she’s finished at NYU, she’ll be able to join a major dance company. She’s worked hard, she deserves this and I’m very happy for her.”