In the latest installment of our Dazzler Profile series, The Costume Gallery team caught up with Hailey Dolan of Doylestown, PA
“Being a competitive dancer has taught me to set goals for myself all the time. It gives me something to constantly work towards that I can feel good about.” -- Hailey Dolan
When she was 3, just old enough to start signing up for activities at her local YMCA, Hailey Dolan’s parents gave her plenty of options. In fact, they encouraged her to try pretty much everything.
“They enrolled me in different activities so I could figure out what I liked,” Hailey recalls. “I tried soccer, tee ball, basketball, gymnastics, and eventually dance. ...I took a dance class at the YMCA and performed in a holiday-themed show and really loved everything about it. It was the one thing I tried that I wanted to do again.”
Flash forward seven years, and dance is the center of Hailey’s young life. Now 12, she works tirelessly to hone her craft at Dance Arts Collaborative in her hometown of Doylestown, PA, and travels around the region to pursue learning opportunities with a variety of different teachers.
“I love that there is so much to learn, and I feel like there is always something to work on and there is always something that you can improve and make better,” Hailey says. “There are also so many opportunities to learn from so many instructors. A ballet class with one teacher can be an entirely different experience with another teacher. That makes it exciting for me.”
Speaking of excitement, we’re so happy to welcome Hailey to our team of Dazzlers. She’s an extremely hard worker and wise beyond her years, as you’ll discover when you read through her Q&A. Enjoy!
Who are your biggest mentors in dance and what impact did they have on you?
I would say some of my biggest mentors in dance are Andy Pellick, Rachel Kreiling, and Rhonda Miller. Andy has such amazing energy, and he has taught me so many different ways to move, but what I love most about Andy is that he allows us to take those moves and make them our own. Rachel has such a unique style, and it makes her classes interesting and exciting. I attended a summer intensive in New York City last summer, and Rhonda Miller taught one of the classes. It was so amazing and high-energy! I was one of the youngest in the class, and she made me feel so good about myself and gave me so much confidence.
What is your first recital memory?
I was 4 years old, and I had a really cute duck costume. I only had one piece, and it was for a rhythm & movement class. Getting ready for the recital was fun. My friends came over, and we all got ready together. It was the first time I got to wear makeup! I remember being backstage for hours and hours and waiting for it to be my turn. I remember being really excited when it was time to line up, and I didn’t feel nervous at all when I stepped on stage. I remember seeing my family in the audience and waving at them when the dance was over. I loved every minute of it and wanted to be like all of the older dancers that had a whole bunch of pieces in the recital. They had costume changes and hair changes, and I knew that’s what I wanted for my next recital.
Do you remember your favorite costume you ever wore? Tell us more about it.
Oh, that is a difficult question! I wore so many different costumes for recitals and competitions. I have to admit I am all about comfort and fit. I had a lyrical costume for a competition piece called “Serendipity” that I really loved. It had multiple shades of blue and grey, and the edges were jagged. The costume was really comfortable, and I just loved the way it moved while I danced in it. This past year, I performed my first variation and had my first pancake tutu. That was pretty special to me.
How have you kept dancing and/or integrated dance into your life during the COVID-19 pandemic?
My dance studio started offering virtual classes, so I was able to take my regular dance classes from home. I also took some weekly ballet classes that were offered virtually from The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory. One of my favorite dance competitions (New York City Dance Alliance) offered technique intensives and virtual workshops. I was able to take classes in all styles of dance with some of my favorite instructors. My home studio was able to open in August, and I was fortunate enough to attend our summer dance intensive in person. It felt so good to be back in my studio with my teachers and see my dancer friends.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a dancer during the pandemic?
Honestly, the biggest challenge I faced was getting over the disappointment I felt. My last three dance competitions were cancelled and I was scheduled to attend the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory for two weeks in June. I was also planning to attend New York City Dance Alliance’s National event in New York City this summer. A local theater near my hometown does “The Nutcracker” every two years. I have been dancing in their show since I was 6. It is such a great experience for me as a dancer and so much fun. This year would have been a “Nutcracker” performance year, and it was cancelled along with everything else. It has just been so disappointing, and it was hard to get over at first.
How has your outlook on life changed in the last year?
I think I learned to focus more on the positive side of things. After facing so much disappointment and feeling sad for quite a while, I realized that I can still dance at home and even had some opportunities to take classes with instructors that I normally wouldn’t have a chance to learn from because I could do it virtually and didn’t have to travel. I do feel lucky to have space at home to dance in, and to have the ability to continue to do what I love to do.
What are you looking forward to most about the school year?
I will be a 7th grader this year, and will be moving into middle school. I am looking forward to my middle school experience. I think it will be fun to change classes and have more than one teacher. I am looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends. School will start virtually, but I am hoping that we will physically get to go back at some point.
What are your goals in dance?
At 12 years old, my goals are more short-term goals that are specific to a particular dance competition or a rehearsal. My goals include things like improving a performance or a specific aspect of a performance. Sometimes, they are geared toward my dance technique or my ability to tell a story in my dance. I think this is so important, because it helps me feel like I have accomplished something, even if I don’t win.
What do you think it means to be an “Influencer”?
To me, being an influencer means setting an example, and I believe there are so many ways to do that. You can do it within your own dance class or school, at competitions, and on social media.
What message do you want to send other dancers who look up to you?
I would want other dancers to know that hard work really pays off and that I think it is really important to set small goals for yourself if you are going to compete in dance. There are so many talented dancers, and not everyone can win, so I think it is important to set your own goals to work toward. I think it is also really important to support your fellow dancers at competitions.
We’d like to thank Hailey for sharing her time and wisdom with us. We can’t wait to see what she accomplishes this year in seventh grade, and in the years to come! Stay tuned to our blog for more fun Dazzler profiles, courtesy of your friends at Costume Gallery.