Zaria Robinson – Illinois Interview by Zoe D'Angelo. Nomination and Photography by Images by Marc Anthony. Issue 21 – Inspiring Teens Magazine.
The Nomination: Zaria is an amazing dancer and student leader. She has done a phenomenal job leading her team and participating in solo events (and winning her fair share). She has also volunteered her time to teach dance to younger students at her local church. She is a super awesome young lady and I'm proud to know her. I can't wait until she opens a dance studio after college.
What inspired you to start dancing? How long have you been dancing? I honestly don’t know what it was… my mom just asked me one day if I wanted to do ice skating or dance since those were the only options for little girls where we lived in Ohio at the time. I just got a feeling and answered dance; the rest is history. I was around 3 when she asked me so I’ve been dancing for 15 years now.
What is your is your favorite type of dance genre? Did you learn this style first? If not, what style did you learn when you first started dancing? I honestly don’t have a favorite dance genre. I enjoy them all and they all have their own advantages. The first style of dance I started to train in were ballet and tap.
What is one thing about dance that most people don’t know? For me it’s a lot more than just a passion - it is a way of life. I would even say for most dancers… it’s all they think and do. It’s all some of us can eat, sleep, and dream about. Being a dancer means a lot of times we have to sacrifice a lot. We have to miss out on a lot of events and activities. It’s hard having friends outside of dance because they will never truly understand why it’s so important for us to go to practice/rehearsal. Missing one time can feel as though you have missed over a week. A lot happens in a single dance practice/rehearsal so even though I miss once, it could take me at least 2 practices/rehearsals to catch up. Then you feel bad everyone having to re-explain everything and keep doing it over and over so you can catch up. It also means probably missing out on big opportunities. The teacher/choreographer may have wanted you for a specific part, but since you aren’t there you miss your window of opportunity and they move on.
If you could add or change something about dance to the dance world, what would it be and why? I would have to say a wider shade range when it comes to shoes, tights, and “nude” undergarments. Currently in jazz shoes from what I’ve been able to find they only offer tan and black; I have to put foundation on my shoes so that they match me when I am onstage. I see a large issue with that. I think that here should be shades ranging from the lightest of dancers to the darkest. It’s a large industry that I believe is being neglected but has a very large opportunity. I plan on pursuing that venture, so everyone feels comfortable with going onstage and not looking silly because their tights and shoes don’t match them when they are performing.
When you open a dance studio of your own one day, what are your plans for it? My dance studio one day in the future… I’m still debating what the name should be. I want it to be something powerful yet professional, short, but not too short. I would want to offer tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, ballet, modern, contemporary, yoga, heels, tumbling/acro, and maybe even silks/aerial silks just because I find it so intriguing. I want the inside of my studio to be very warm and inviting while also staying professional. I want there to be 2 levels. There should be pictures of the students throughout. Ideally there would be about 8 or 9 studios/rooms. There would be a room for kids to do homework, store food, and microwaves. I would have a little area where kids could buy food, snacks, and water in case they forgot to bring their own. There would also be a lounge area for parents of younger kids so they could watch them through the monitors. I would like one of the studios to strictly be for acro/tumbling and aerial silks. Preferably I would like to have an in-house costume designer so I would have a space entirely for him/her. An office and a conference room would also be my choice. I have a lot of ideas for my dance studio, and I hope one day to make them into a reality. The instructors I hope to hire one day have to have compassion, empathy, be very well trained and dedicated to teaching and creating not just amazing dancers, but amazing people. I would want to hire instructors that don’t do favorites, just what’s best for the team. Some, not all, would have to be good at working with small children. People that I could trust and count on. Instructors that do what’s best for the dancer, not just what the parent wants or says they should get.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? There is going to be a very long road ahead of them but never ever give up. It’s going to be hard and there are going to be moments that seem unbearable, but in the end it will all come together. To never lose sight of the big picture. To always remember the reason why they not only started but continued to dance and why they love it. I would advise them to cherish their family and never take them for granted because they are the ones that are always going to be there. Family is the biggest support system. I would advise them to hone in on their studies and never give up. Not to sweat the small stuff, to never give in to the drama and find a good group of people that will support them no matter what. Honest people that will tell them even the things they may not what to hear.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I see myself graduating/graduated from college. I would be hopefully working as a dance instructor and starting to obtain a graduate degree. I would love to obtain 2 masters - one in dance and the other in marketing.
How do you keep yourself organized with everything you have on your plate?
It is very difficult, but I have a very supportive mother that keeps me on my toes, and I have an organizer. I also just try to do everything in terms of due dates and importance.
Who do you find inspiring? My mom is the most inspiring person I’ve ever met. She’s been through a lot and has had some of the most incredible experiences in her life, yet she always maintains being a mom is her greatest accomplishment. Being a single mother isn’t easy, but she does it with such grace and makes it look easy. She always puts her needs aside to pit mine first. She's made a lot of sacrifices for me but shows and gives me so much unconditional love. She undoubtedly is my best friend, but still is a disciplinarian. We keep that boundary of mother and daughter, but I can always go to her when something is bothering me, or I just need someone to talk to. When I was younger, I had an issue with lying to my mom, so to ensure I wouldn’t do it anymore, my mom made me a promise that as long as I told her the truth… she could not get mad at me. As I got older, she had to alter it to she could be disappointed, but still could not get mad. She has stayed true to this promise and I would have to estimate that it’s been going on for about 12 years now. It shows how dedicated she is to me, knowing that I can always go to my mom is really special because I do have friends that aren’t able to do that with their parents and it makes the bond between my mom and I so much stronger. She inspires me each and every day.
Pizza or tacos? Soda or water? Cats or dogs? Pizza, water, and definitely dogs.
Zaria will be featured in Issue 21 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!