Q&A: Madelyn Burke (10)


Madelyn Burke (10) does a leap. She has been dancing for 12 years.

Nadja Kostadinovic, Author

Q: When did you start dancing?

A: When I was three.

Q: What was it like when you first started? How did you start off?

A: Usually when people start dancing I think they just kind of think of it as something to do in their free time. I didn’t start thinking about it seriously until fifth grade probably.

Q: What kinds of dances do you do?

A: I do contemporary, jazz, ballet, hip hop, lyrical, basically everything but ballroom and tap.

Q:  Where do you dance?

A: I dance at B-Discovered dance company in Aurora, Illinois. It’s about an hour and a half away.

Q:  How often do you go there?

A: Five days a week. It’s Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Friday.

Q:  How many hours would you say you spend dancing in a week?

A: I think we spend 20-24 hours a week dancing.

Q:  Does it take up a lot of your life to dance?

A: Yes. It’s hard because obviously whenever people wanna hang out, it’s always like, “I can’t, I have dance.” But your friends kind of get used to it.

Q:  How do you balance dance and school?

A: Since I dance so far away, I do homework in the car on the way there and on the way back, and then if I still have more I do it after dance.

Q:  Do you think there are negative aspects of dancing, such as tiredness, getting injured a lot or the fact that it’s time-consuming?

A:  All of the above. You get injured, well obviously there’s preventative measures so you [don’t] get injured, but they’re hard to keep up with, so injuries are difficult. It’s not that dance makes me tired, it’s the time that it takes that makes me tired because I’m always doing homework and I don’t get home until 11 [p.m.], and then sometimes I have more homework.

Q:  What are competitions like?

A:  When you go to a competition you never stop working. You’re always practicing while you’re there, and if you’re not practicing you get in trouble.

Q:  When is the competition season for dance?

A:  It’s usually like November through July. My first competition was in November and Nationals is in July.

Q:  When you’re at B-Discovered, are you preparing for competitions primarily or are there other things you are working on as well?

A:  When it gets closer to the season we prepare for competitions, but if we’re not preparing then we’re taking classes.

Q:  Do you travel for competitions?

A:  Yeah, we’ve travelled both for Nationals [and Regionals]. Nationals is usually far away. We’ve gone to Florida, Las Vegas. Then Regionals are always all over the country, but we usually stick to the Chicago area or like Illinois. [We stay around] Kansas City, etc.

Q:  How did you start dancing at B-Discovered?

A:  The director of my studio used to teach at my old studio in Indiana, but he asked me if I wanted to be in his company in Illinois and I was like, “That’s kinda crazy but I’ll give it a shot.” And then you have to audition; everyone auditions for the company. I do think B-Discovered is kind of on the top of you know, the scale or whatever, because a lot of people don’t even start competing until January, and they don’t even start practicing until maybe November, but we practice all year round, and I think we have one month break, maybe half a month.

Q:  Is there anywhere to go up from where you are, where it’s going to change or get more serious?

A:  The only reason it’s not that serious now is because competitions aren’t really going to help you in your dance career. Nobody asks you, “How many first places have you won?” It’s all about just the way you move.

Q:  If you are going to pursue a career in dance, how will you do it?

A:  I like teaching more than I like dancing myself because I like creating movement myself rather than taking other people’s.

Q:  What are your plans for college? Are you planning on going to a performing arts school?

A:  If I go to college, it probably won’t be for dance. It’ll be for management, so then I can create a studio and teach that way.

Q:  What’s your favorite thing about dancing?

A:  I think just when you go into the studio you don’t really think about anything else like when you’re in there, you leave your bags at the door, you know?