Along with her twin sister, Gulliver Prep senior Alexandra Yaniz started a dance program in Great Harbor Cay in the Bahamas.
“Two years ago, we started teaching dance to the little girls of the community,” she says. “We were exposing them to movement that they’ve never experienced before.”
Yaniz says the girls were shy at first because dancing was so unfamiliar, but then they got closer to her and her sister and they began enjoying learning how to dance.
The twins have run the program for the past two summers and plan to do it again next summer.
“Since we were so familiar with the community from a young age, we saw how deprived they were of extra curriculars and exposure to different art forms,” she says.
They taught three days a week. The girls ranged in age from five to 11.
“I felt they loved coming to dance with us and it was the highlight of their summer and their week,” she says.
As she became more experienced as a teacher, she and her sister tweaked thing and taught more hip hop because the dances were easier for the inexperienced girls and they knew the songs they used.
Yaniz had taught girls who attend the dance studio she goes to, but those girls were more advanced than the Bahamian girls.
“It made me realize that I take for granted the exposure (to dance) I’ve had,” she says. “What I would consider super simple, was new to them.”
Teaching the Bahamian girls how to dance and seeing the joy on their faces brought her back to the joy she felt when she first started dancing.
In addition to teaching dance, Yaniz and her sister donated dance wear to the girls. She plans to donate more dance wear next summer.
“It was mainly a lot of old dancer wear from when we started dancing,” she says. “We brought a lot of different styles and the kids chose what they wanted. They would wear the clothes to the next class so we could see they appreciated it.”
At Gulliver, she’s the senior captain of the dance team along with her sister.
“I was an officer last year as well. I choreograph for the dance team,” she says. “I’ve won some national choreograph awards.
Which is rewarding because choreography is a passion of mine.”
She’s been recognized at national competitions for her choreography for the dance team.
“I like the creativity,” she says. “When I’m dancing my own choreography, it feels comfortable and right in my body.”
Yaniz is an officer of the Dane Club and co-president of the Open Ears, Open Arms club which performs community service. She’s also in the National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society, the National Honor Society for Dance Arts, the History Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and the Cum Laude Society.
She and her sister went to three dance conventions this year. She’s been a scholarship winner at all three.
“We audition for scholarships in class. Out of a hundred or so, they choose like twenty to be scholarship winner,” she says, adding that her sister also won scholarships.
They performed solos at the conventions. While she didn’t place, her scores were good. Her sister placed at one of the events.
Yaniz and her sister want to double major in dance and in an academic area.
“We’re not sure what that academic area is, but we are leaning toward sciences,” she says. “I’m interested in Chemistry.”
She’s also interested in math and economics. Yaniz did apply early decision to Duke.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld