The Life of a Dancer: How One Student Uses Dance to Express Herself

Story by Lexi Carter
Feature image via @lcdc_canberra

For thirteen years, dance has taken the front seat in Aubrie Clingaman’s life and her daily routine, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. From dancing during halftime shows to Disneyland, Clingaman knows that dance will always be apart of her life.

We sat down with the CMU sophomore to understand what dance means to her, and how this passion translates into a healthy lifestyle.

Grand Central: How and why did you start dancing?
Aubrie Clingaman: I started because I had a lot of family friends that danced and mom just signed me up for it. I continued with it because I loved it so much. I mean, not when I was two, I cried then, then I went to cheerleading, but after that I went back to dance. So then I was put on the dance team and I started going from two dance classes to 10 dance classes when I was in second grade. I just loved it. 

GC: What is something dancing has taught you about life?
AC: I feel like it’s taught me patience. Like in dance, I have to be patient with myself if I don’t get the moves right away or timing or working with other people. I relate that in my life when I talk to people or when I work with people in group projects, I try to just realize that everyone has their own rhythm and method of doing things, and sometimes that’s okay. 

Clingaman (left) after winning an award during her dance competition.
Clingaman (left) after winning an award during her dance competition.

GC: Why do you love dancing?
AC: If I had to pick one particular thing it would probably be because I can be myself and I know that’s so generic and broad, and that’s what everyone says when they dance. I am just so happy when I do it, when I move my body and being able to express myself in ways I never thought I could. 

GC: Explain the feeling you experience when you dance on stage?
AC: Honestly, I get so nervous and anxious before I go onstage. Especially if I’m standing in the side wings looking at the audience before I walk out I get so nervous, with butterflies in my stomach and I feel like I’m going to pee my pants.

But then I get on stage in my starting pose and I just know that that’s where I’m supposed to be. I’m shaking and I’m nervous the whole time, but it’s so worth it because as I start going and the dance progresses. I know that’s where I’m supposed to be.

GC: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
AC: Usually I just jump around a lot to try to not be so nervous and shake on stage, and definitely keep my body warm. So I’ll be moving my feet and arms just to make sure I’m prepared. I also try to just breath because I have to tell myself to take a deep breath before. 


GC: How are you involved with dance at CMU?
AC: My high school didn’t have a dance team or anything, I was only dancing at my studio. So when I came to CMU, I became a dance minor and am apart of the University Theater Dance Company, which I had to audition for. So with the company we do our own performances and shows and we dance in the homecoming parade and there are other opportunities with it. 

GC:What is your major?
AC: Communications disorders, I want to a speech pathologist and work with kids, but I also want to own a dance studio. 

GC: What do you want to do with dance later in your life?
AC: During my early twenties, I want to go professional in some way. I want to dance in music videos, I want to join a company, I want to be in a commercial, there’s a bunch of things I want to do or at least try. Then, if it doesn’t last as long as I’d hope it does or if something doesn’t work out I want to own my own studio. 

GC: Is there anyway you want to connect your major to dance?
AC: Honestly, I have looked into doing research with them. Speech pathology is with the mouth, it’s not like occupational therapy, but there are ways to move your mouth, your head, neck and shoulders and that all connects as one, or even the breathing, so if I could relate if a child has a communication disorder or an articulation disorder, or an error that goes all the way down to their lungs and breathing, I feel like I could relate that to a breathing technique that we use in dance because in dance, you have to breath through your nose. So, for example, if you have a communication disorder or articulation disorder, you can relate it back to breathing exercises. 

GC: What was your favorite dance experience?
AC: I have danced in the Disneyland holiday parade, I danced on a cruise ship, I’ve danced at conventions and pop up performances. But I think my favorite would probably be just dancing at Disneyland. We weren’t apart of a parade; we got to do our own routines and we were on a stage and people came and watched us. I was able to be in two dances and it was really cool to just be able to say that I danced at Disneyland.