Imagine for a moment a young girl gripping onto the bright white tutu of a professional ballerina after a ballet performance. The girl’s mother claims it is time to go home, but the child has already made her decision. Somehow, she knows she will be a dancer. She cannot see herself as anything else. That girl is junior Renee La Schiazza, who has been dancing since she was three years old.
“I would always run around my house (to the tune of) Celine Dion (songs), dancing,” La Schiazza said. “(My mom) had to hold me off starting dance until I was three, which is really young.”
La Schiazza said she has been attending rigorous dance classes multiple times a week for 14 years. Along with that, she will play the part of Ermingarde in this year’s musical “Hello Dolly!” and will also be a second-year Ambassador in her senior year.
However, La Schiazza must juggle her singing and dancing with other typical teenage activities, such as school. She said she agrees that the amount of work can sometimes be overwhelming but that her love for dance keeps her driven.
La Schiazza said, “I think if you’re really committed to something and you really love something, it’s never going to be too much. The only time things get stressful is when schoolwork comes in the way. Because I’ve been a dancer and because it’s taken so much time, I’ve developed the time management skills. Some people procrastinate, but I’m always the first one to get as much done whenever I can so that I can do those performances.”
The rigorous amount of schoolwork can be tiring for any high school student, but La Schiazza said she employs certain methods to keep herself healthy.
“My mom has always made me go to bed at a reasonable hour, and when you’re doing all these things, sometimes you have to stay up later,” La Schiazza said. “I would say sleep is the most important thing. It gets you prepared for the next day.”
Laura Byram, who has been La Schiazza’s dance teacher at the Jordan School of Dance for almost nine years, said she believes Renee’s drive for perfection is exactly on target for a dancer.
“(Renee) has always been driven in her dance training,” Byram said via e-mail. “I believe that Renee is definitely Type-A personality. Being a perfectionist is what keeps her so driven. When training as a dancer, the entire journey is about the process of always working toward perfection, realizing that it is impossible to achieve. This is what keeps the dancer motivated and moving forward.”
La Schiazza said she attributes much of her motivation to her parents.
“My parents have always supported me in everything I do,” La Schiazza said. “I would never have the drive that I do without them. My parents want to see me succeed, especially my dad. He has a job that he doesn’t exactly enjoy, and so he’s learned, and he says, ‘Renee, I want you to do something that you’ll be happy in.’”
La Schiazza said she plans to major in musical theatre, along with a minor in dance.
“I think (being on Broadway) would be amazing,” La Schiazza said. “That would be a dream. If that happened, I think I would die happy.”
Byram said she agrees that it takes a significant amount of motivation to pursue a musical theatre career.
“Renee is about to embark on the journey of trying to make it into ‘the biz.’ She will face a lot of rejection and the competition is fierce,” Byram said. “I do believe that she can succeed because she has already demonstrated significant achievements. Talent is important in the arts, but it is not enough. Determination is also a must for an artist.”
“(Performing) is what I’ve chosen to do with my life,” La Schiazza said. “Something in me makes me love music and dance, and when you really love something, it never gets old. I’m happy, even though I’m busy, I’m happy, and having fun with everything I’m doing.”