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Senior Plans Leap of Faith

Lee Reflects on Dancing Journey
Senior Jadlyn Lee dances and leaps through the air with her teammates.
Courtesy of Jadlyn Lee
Senior Jadlyn Lee dances and leaps through the air with her teammates.

Imagine you finally leave school at 1:30 p.m. and have to set out for the hour-and-a-half drive to Vincennes. You arrive at 3:30 p.m. and begin teaching your first dance student group. After teaching two more sets of kids, you finally begin working in your dance class. After teaching and dancing for over six hours, you finally get to drive another hour and a half back home. Then, you have to do this whole routine again on the weekend.

For senior Jadlyn Lee, this has been her life for 11 years.

Six-year-old Jadlyn dances with her teammate. (Courtesy of Jadlyn Lee)

Lee has spent endless amounts of time dancing. She started performing when she was six years old and began competing around 10 years old.

Lee started dancing to get closer to her older sister, Renee, who inspired her to try to dance. She also wanted to build a stronger relationship with her sister, and dancing allowed her to do that.

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“Being the little sister, Renee was usually better than me at most activities, so I wanted to beat her at something while also being able to form a better relationship with her. This wasn’t hard to do saying one time while Renee was dancing and her glasses fell off on stage,” said Lee.

On top of becoming closer with her sister, Lee also formed many friendships.

“When I started at Jean Marie, I was still attending school at South Knox. I became somewhat attached to the studio and the people there because I grew up with all of them. When my family moved to Paoli, I had to persuade my mom to let me stay there so I still had all of my friends and connections and I just never left,” said Lee.

Lee currently dances and teaches at Jean Marie Dance Studio in Vincennes for about 14 hours weekly.

“I teach about eight kids per class and I teach three classes. Teaching younger students has taught me a lot of patience and I have had to learn to be more understanding.,” said Lee.

Lee has previously participated in pointe, tumbling, and tap, but she currently focuses on contemporary, ballet, lyrical, jazz, hip-hop, and modern dance styles. She feels that these types of dance styles allow her to express herself.

Jadlyn dances at the front of the group while her teammates dance behind her. (Courtesy of Jadlyn Lee)

“My favorite part of dance is probably being able to be myself and be free to be passionate about something. I also really enjoy teaching the younger students because they look up to you and give you the confidence to be yourself,” said Lee.

Although Lee enjoys dancing, she has had to make multiple sacrifices to continue dancing.

“Because of dance, I miss a lot of events or even just school. I can’t go to half of the athletic events or anything that takes place after school, especially on weekends. Because of competitions, I am gone a lot and miss a lot of school. Most competitions are from Friday to Monday and I have to miss both Friday and Monday of school. I also can’t spend time with friends, because of practice. Also, half of my paycheck goes to my gas from going back and forth twice a week,” said Lee.

Stacey Dean, Lee’s mom, has worked to ensure her daughter can continue dancing. This includes working multiple jobs and making long drives.

“I currently work one full-time job and two part-time jobs to be able to provide Lee with the opportunity to be on the competition dance team. I don’t consider it a sacrifice. I am able to work which provides the means for her to do what she loves and she is amazing at,” said Dean.

Dean loves watching her daughter compete and has difficulty selecting her favorite dance style.

“It is hard to just pick one type of dance. It is a lot of fun to watch the ones she really enjoys. In contemporary she is able to show all her talents, but I would spend every minute I could watching her dance any type of dance,” said Dean.

Competing has taken Lee to many cities around the country, including Nashville, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Louisville, Chicago, Myrtle Beach, and Virginia Beach. Jadlyn feels the most impressive award she and her team have won was at the ID Dance Competition. They were awarded the Studio

Jadlyn and her team celebrate after winning the Studio of Excellence title. (Courtesy of Jadlyn Lee)

of Excellence title and a scholarship to return and compete at their nationals.

“It was cool and exciting to win such an amazing award. I was really proud of my team,” said Lee.

Lee has already been accepted to the University of Kentucky and plans to attend the UK Dance Camp in April. Here, she will learn some of the UK team’s performances during halftimes and games. Jadlyn will also be able to learn new skills to help her during tryouts. She could get hand-picked for their dance team while participating in the camp. If this were to happen, she could skip tryouts and have a spot ready for her on the UK dance team. If she is not hand-picked, she must participate in tryouts on July 16. This will include sending a video of her skills, a made-up routine, and a video of her performing their school song.

After college, Lee hopes to continue having dance be a part of her life. Although she has not decided what she wants to do yet, Lee thinks dancing for famous singer Tate McRae would be interesting.

This story was originally published on PHS Media News on February 8, 2024.