Alexandra de Roos - Florida Interview by Olivia Bush Nomination & Photography by Shelli de Roos Issue 37 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Alexandra de Roos is a 17-year-old student at the School of American Ballet in New York City, is the current Miss Gainesville’s Outstanding Teen 2020 and is the president and founder of Peace Love Leotards, Inc. She began dancing at the age of 2 ½ and began competing in dance competitions at the age of 5. At the age of 8, she informally began Peace Love Leotards by collecting gently used dance wear at her local studio. At the age of 11, she began training at Next Generation Ballet to focus on ballet specifically for a career. She moved to New York City by herself when she was 14 to train at the School of American Ballet for its winter term program. In March of 2020, when COVID-19 forced Alex to return to Florida and quarantine, she founded Peace Love Leotards, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to bridge the socioeconomic gap in the performing arts by donating dancewear and providing virtual training videos to underprivileged children. Since April, Peace Love Leotards has been featured in 12 newspapers across Florida, Pointe and Dance Spirit magazines and WFLA News Channel 8, it has garnered 7 dance wear manufacturer sponsors, 2 corporate donors and local dance retail partners. Peace Love Leotards is global as it now has 14 ambassadors and 2 junior ambassadors across the US and in Singapore who collect dancewear in their locations. Peace Love Leotards has provided and continues to provide dancewear to dancers in need, scholarship students at dance studios and is in the process of partnering with Title 1 schools across Florida.
“I believe that anyone who wants to dance should have the opportunity to, and my mission is to make that dream a reality for you.” - Alexandra de Roos
Photography by a dance friend
What inspired you to start dancing? Who are some dancers that you look up to? I have been dancing for as long as I can remember. I was born with hip dysplasia and high arches in my feet which caused my doctors to be concerned that I would not walk. My doctors recommended that my parents put me in dance to strengthen my lower body. From there, I completely fell in love with the art form. Some dancers I look up to are Maria Kowroski, Teresa Reichlen, and Sterling Hyltin, all principal dancers with New York City Ballet.
Tell me everything you possibly can about your nonprofit Peace Love Leotards! I started Peace Love Leotards Inc. when I was eight because I was inspired by my mentors in the Miss Florida Organization who advocated for something they were passionate about. I wanted to do the same. I immediately thought of dance as what I was most passionate about. I knew dance was expensive so I decided to help combat the costs by collecting dancewear to distribute to dancers who needed it. Fast during quarantine, I decided to officially incorporate Peace Love Leotards and obtain its tax-exempt status. Since April, we have gained sponsorships from 7 dancewear companies, 1 retail store, and 2 corporate sponsors, and have received $5,200 in dancewear and $2,500 in monetary donations. We have launched our ambassador programs, and have been published in Pointe and Dance Spirit Magazines, 12 newspapers, and appeared on WFLA News Channel 8. We are currently in the process of working with arts programs at Title 1 Schools and other dance studios.
Photography by Shelli de Roos
What are some goals you have for your future? Do you want to continue dancing? What are your goals for your nonprofit? Yes, I absolutely want to continue dancing. My main goal is to be asked to join the New York City Ballet! I also want to attend college and obtain my Doctorate in sports psychology. My main goal for my nonprofit is to be able to bridge the socioeconomic gap in the performing arts because I believe that any child who wants to dance should have the opportunity to.
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever accomplished, and how did you do it? Being accepted into the School of American Ballet’s Winter Term Program when I was 14 years old which meant I would move away from home 4 years earlier than the average student. To be accepted, I had put so much hard work and time into my training. I knew that lots of hard work would eventually pay off. Moving away so young was quite difficult, but I would say in order to be successful in you have to be confident in yourself and that you can accomplish what you set out to accomplish no matter the difficulty. If you don’t have enough confidence in yourself to know you can make it on your own, then you won’t make it. I had to know that I was smart enough to make my own decisions. For example, about 3 weeks after I moved away, I injured my back dancing. I had to know it was a smart decision to go see the PT and the doctor and to be confident enough in myself to know those were smart decisions.
How did you get the honor of becoming Gainesville's outstanding teen? What was going through your mind when you found out you were their most outstanding teen? Miss Gainesville’s Outstanding Teen is a preliminary to the Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen Scholarship Competition. I competed for the title in February and was so blessed to win! When they called my name as the winner I was beyond ecstatic as this is something I had wanted to participate in for so long. I absolutely love the Miss Florida’s Outstanding Teen organization and to be able to represent the wonderful city of Gainesville is a bonus.
What is your favorite part of being Miss Gainesville's Outstand Teen? Perhaps my favorite part of being Miss Gainesville’s Outstanding Teen is being a mentor to my protege, Taylor Finne. This is so special to me because I have always loved working with younger girls and because this is the program that inspired me to start Peace Love Leotards. My protege is a dancer and is so kind and talented. I absolutely love her, and I love knowing that I have the opportunity to be able to make an impact on her life as my mentors impacted my life!
Photography by Shelli de Roos
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? Definitely believe in yourself and do not be afraid to go after what you want. Know that you are good enough to get to where you want to go, and if you have to, push yourself out of your comfort zone to accomplish your goals. To get connections and sponsorships for Peace Love Leotards, I had to reach out to people that I did not know, adults, established in their respective businesses. It was scary and outside my comfort zone especially because I’m not usually a bold person. But because I wanted to make Peace Love Leotards successful, I knew I had to be bold and go for it.
What is your favorite activity or pastime that wasn’t in your nomination? A: I actually love photography and going to the beach. Taking photos of places and my friends is something that makes me so happy. I also love that I can capture special moments. As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words. The beach has always been my favorite place. It is so relaxing and so beautiful. Plus, water activities are so much fun.
Do you have a hidden talent? What is it? I can wiggle my ears!
If you could publicly present any topic to a group of your peers, what would it be and why? I would talk about the importance of arts’ education because through the arts, a child’s creative thinking skills can improve as well as their STEM test scores. I have the opportunity to spread this message through Peace Love Leotards Inc. and as Miss Gainesville’s Outstanding Teen. Also, I currently am involved with Advanced Recovery System’s Real Talk Program, which is a comprehensive, educational program that teaches the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. I believe this topic is so important as the number of people addicted to these substances continues to rise every year and as teens, we are one of the most susceptible groups.
3 Things on your bucket list The 3 main things on my bucket list are traveling to Europe, specifically Paris, dancing as a professional ballerina, and obtaining my Doctorate degree in psychology.
Photography by Matt Boyd Photography
Who do you find inspiring? Definitely my mom. She embodies everything I want to be in life. She is kind, talented, and hard-working. She is not afraid to accomplish her goals and go after what she wants. She has also taught me so many important lessons throughout my life, one of the most memorable would be her telling me that “I could be anything I wanted to be in life accept a mean girl.” This enforced in my head that I could accomplish anything that I wanted, but that I needed to be kind in the process. She is truly the most amazing person, and I love her so much.
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? I have always found this question so difficult to answer because it is hard to pinpoint what draws one person to another especially when that person is yourself. However, I believe that I am inspiring because I believe that in all that I have ever accomplished I have remained kind. Kindness will take you so far in life. It leaves a positive, lasting impact on people.
Alexandra will be featured in issue 37 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!