My name is Riyo Abfalter and I am 12 years old. I live in Honolulu, Hawaii and I dance at Honolulu Dance Studio.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started dancing at Honolulu Dance Studio when I was 6 years old and have been with them ever since. Currently, I am a competitive dancer as a soloist. My favorite dance styles are lyrical, contemporary, and jazz, but I am working to improve my ballet skills and focus more on ballet this season.
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?
To have a passion all the time (in my case, it is dancing) is certainly not an easy thing to do. At least for me. Sometimes I lose my goals, and sometimes I lose my passion. But if I keep my goal, I can keep my passion. And if I keep my passion, I will never lose sight of my goal. I think there is a delicate balance between the two. And I value the balance between the two.
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
I am a tiny dancer. Therefore, I am always looking to improve my technique and work on it. But due to my height, the studio owner did not permit me to be placed on a team with dancers of an older age this season. It was very frustrating for me, when I was told that my skills had arrived, but my height was not enough. But now I have reconsidered and am using that as a springboard to work on improving my skills even more than before.
How do you conquer negative talk?
I try not to listen to negative talk. And I always try to keep myself positive.
What is your favorite quote?
“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” - Michael Jordan
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I will be focusing more on ballet this season, but first, I will be performing in Nutcracker this winter, which will be my first ballet performance. My immediate goal is to be able to wear point shoes by the end of the season. I would also like to compete in ballet someday.