My name is Aspen Alexandra, and I am 4 years old. I dance at Demetra Dance Studio in California.
(Because of Aspen's young age, her parents have written her Spotlight.)
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Aspen has always loved classical music, and ballet spoke to her almost in ways we, as her parents, could not even understand. She would also find music in everyday sounds on dance to where there was no music at all. Sometimes I think she saw and heard the notes entirely in her mind. At the age of 14 months, she asked us to put her into ballet classes. She could not even walk yet, and so we followed her passion. She has not stopped dancing since. She says, “ when I dance, it makes me feel like my toes are leaping like I’m free like I can fly.”
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Aspen has always worked hard, but it was never “ hard work” as she is incredibly determined to push her limits beyond every limit people have tried to set for her. Our path has been filled with many challenges. But I strongly believe it is those challenges that make us stronger and give us the greatest inspiration! One of the greatest challenges has been overcoming weakness to one side of her body. But, with hard work, some incredible people, and self-determination to dance, she took her first steps in ballet, first jumps, first pirouettes, and those challenges have not only given us strength but a vision.
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
I would not say that we view our experience as limitations but instead challenges, goals, and inspiration.
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
I think there will always be people, who for various reasons, will try and limit your progress or put you down. But I feel it is those people that need kindness the most. So we stay kind and humble but determined to not prove them wrong but to prove ourselves right in what our goals and dreams are and to keep pursuing them. When Aspen was 2 yo her teacher in her group class told us that she needed private instruction based on her skills, musicality, and dedication. I called multiple ballet schools that would not even see her for a lesson based merely on her age, except our amazing Ms. Inga, who we are still with today. She is the most incredible teacher. She invited her for an audition and said yes. So not only did we find an amazing teacher and school, but those other schools now call us. I think you have to keep going and growing no matter what and no matter what anyone says, and the right opportunities and people will be there to support you because there are just as many positive people that are ready to help you reach your goals. Aspen now trains in the professional program in the Vaganova method.
How do you conquer negative talk?
I think there will always be negative talk, but we choose not to engage in this and only lead with kindness and positivity. Negativity will not drive out negativity. If you focus on kindness, the world becomes so much brighter. Everyone is on their own journey.
What is your favorite quote?
"Some might call it confidence, others name it faith, but if it makes us brave, the label doesn't matter for it's the thing that frees us to embrace life itself." - Jennifer Worth
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
There is always something to look forward to! The biggest plan is our fundraiser campaign Dance4PTN and to attend Giselle in a few weeks as well as keep training for an upcoming show. There are always plans!