Passion Profile: Pointe-ing Towards A Passion.

Jaime Hickey is a dance instructor at Jersey City Dance Academy.  This Passion Profile was conducted and written by Alina Balseiro (see Alina's bio below).  Author's note: I chose my current dance teacher, Miss Jaime Hickey, because she has inspired me to work harder at the things I love to do. She pursued her passion and that inspired me to continue mine: dance. She didn't give up on me and helped me realize why I haven't stopped dancing.

How old are you?

I’m 26 years old.

When did you start dancing?

I took my first class when I was about three years old, but really started training at nine or ten.

Did you always study dance as a career option or did you do it for leisure?

It was a hobby until I was 10 years old. By then, I knew that I wanted to pursue it and I started focusing in on just ballet. Before that, I was doing everything: jazz, tap, Irish step dancing, etc. Once I knew that, I started focusing on solely ballet.

What styles of dance did you do then compared to what do you do now?

When I was at my local school, I did ballet, jazz, tap, Irish step dancing, modern, and a bit of lyrical. I also did one year of hip-hop, but that wasn't great. When I was 15 or 16, I stopped Irish step dancing and did solely classical ballet. I did contemporary for some of my pieces, but pretty much classical ballet. jaime2

Is classical ballet your favorite?

Yes, I realized that was my favorite around 10 and that I was naturally the best at it compared to the other styles I did. I also love it because it sets the foundation to all other styles of dance, whether its jazz or lyrical. It sets up coordination, strength and focus for any other styles.

When did you start pointe work?

{Pointe technique is used in classical ballet and requires pointe shoes. They are used to help the ballerina stand on the tips of their toes. It requires years of training and a strong dancer to be able to wear them} I started pointe when I was 12 or 13 at a summer program.

What has been your biggest accomplishment throughout your life?

I’d say when I received my first contract to be in a company. It was what I’ve been aiming for and when I finally got that, it was pretty big. I had become professional and it always was my goal since I started training intensely; I got there.

What company was it?

My first contract was at a studio-type company at American Ballet Theatre called ABT II. I stayed there for 2 years and then I moved to Joffrey Ballet in Chicago; that was a full company.

Did your parents encourage you to continue dancing or did they want you to pursue another dream?

My parents always encouraged me to dance; they never really pushed me. It was always something I really wanted to do and I would find new teachers and schools and say, “I want to do this! Can I try this? I want to go here!” They would always support me and do whatever they could to get me there. I guess I was lucky in that sense. But they weren't too overbearing and pushing me to continue if I didn't want to. I’m sure if I ever wanted to stop, they would support me. Everything I did was mostly my decision. jaime4

Were there any barriers in the dance world and/or personally that were difficult for you to overcome?

Yes, when I was a teenager, I wasn’t very strong or flexible so I had to work harder to overcome that. I was always one of the weaker ones dance wise, strength, jumping and all that. I had to work hard on the outside of dance to try and make up for it. On top of that, there are always body image issues as a teenager. Pushing past that was very difficult, but worth it.

When you teach your students now, do you see your young self in them? Did you have similar struggles?

I definitely see specks of my younger self in them. Its nice to be able to relate and know that I’ve been through it so I can help them. I try to give them a better perspective saying, “In the future it might be this way! Don't give up now.” I want to help them overcome any struggles, if they have any, and let them know that I’ve been through it, too.

Are you there for emotional support as well as helping them become better dancers?

Yes, or at least I try to be. They know they can come to me if they need something.

Do you have any advice for young dancers today?

I would say, “Try to be as versatile as you can, especially since dance is so much more commercial today. Also, find something that is unique to you through your dancing. Be well rounded but find something that thing that sets you apart from others. Dance is recognized everywhere now; you never know when it’s going to be your time.

Do you look up to any other dancers?

I always looked up to my dance teacher growing up as well as Julie Kent. I loved Julie because she wasn't about doing too many tricks or too many wild things. Her dancing was very clean and pure. She always devoted herself to the roll she was playing. She didn't have to be too flashy about it.

Do you think anyone sees you as a role model?

I would hope my students do! (We do.) Jaime Hickey Profile

The Iron Strong designs inspired by dance: Leg Hang Necklace and Superman Pose Necklace. Jaime can be found on instagram at Jaime_Hickey Jersey City Dance Academy

About the interviewer, Alina Balseiro: I'm Alina Balseiro and I'm a junior in high school who enjoys dancing, photography and playing guitar.  I want to pursue a career in journalism or psychology.

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