For Alexia Baker ’19, dance has always been a part of her life. She was first introduced to dance at the age of three, beginning with ballet lessons. Throughout her childhood, Baker faced the challenge of frequently moving houses and being unable to consistently take classes. Despite these setbacks, she still found her own way to express her passion for her art by spending time in a dance studio, listening to music, or choreographing pieces with her sister and performing for her family.
Throughout all these years, dancing for others has grown to be a significant part of Baker’s life.
“I love the feeling during and after performances. Once I’m on stage, I just start dancing. I don’t think about who’s watching or what else is going on on stage,” described Baker.
She added, “Performing, auditioning, even dancing in class – it’s a show, all the time.”
In addition to the excitement of performing, dance also provides Baker with a certain calmness. “Dance really helps me clear my head. When I’m dancing, I don’t have to think about anything. It’s a stress reliever. There’s just so much freedom with what you can do. For me, dance is like meditating in a way,” said Baker.
At Deerfield, Baker is one of the rare dancers to start in Dance I and pass through all of the levels into the highest level, Dance Tutorial, during her four years here. She is a well-rounded dancer in all genres, though she considers hip hop and jazz to be her favorites.
Deerfield’s dance program and its open environment both played an important role in Baker’s decision to come to this school.
“On my revisit day, I peeked into the studio and they were doing ballet. Ms. Whitcomb asked me if I wanted to join them even though I had no dance clothes and I wasn’t ready to dance. That was one of the things that made me come here. I didn’t come prepared to dance and she just let me join,” recalled Baker.
Her time at this school has brought her numerous new experiences as both a dancer and a choreographer. Despite having choreographed pieces before, her freshman year winter showcase was the first time she put one of her self-choreographed pieces on stage.
Deerfield has also introduced her to a unique choreographing process using the advanced technology on campus. “As a choreographer, you literally put the piece together from the choreo to the stage. You want lights, you want silhouettes, when the light changes. It’s really a process that I don’t get to do anywhere else,” explained Baker.
I listen to the dynamics of the music and think about how I want the lighting to change and make the choreography look even cooler. Often times when we rehearse pieces in the studio, there are always some points of chores that don’t click for me until I do it on stage. It brings the choreography to life.
“Overall, I’ve learned from the dancers and choreographers here. Being a part of this program has also helped me with musicality and knowing I don’t always have to count, as well as how to feel the music and make movements work when there are no counts,” added Baker.
For the upcoming student choreography showcase, Baker will be choreographing the MLK day dance piece, to be performed by the Advanced Dance Ensemble. The piece will be set to the song “Glory” by John Legend and will be contemporary, posing the challenge for Baker of maintaining emotion even during the rap sections.
“It’s about freedom, rising up through hardships, breaking social constructs, and being the race that you are made to be,” elaborated Baker.
When asked what kind of dancer she is, Dance Program Director Jennifer Whitcomb simply states,“Fierce. She’s a strong dancer. Even though she’s a true leader and a role model, she never seeks the limelight. She’s very humble and unassuming about her abilities, which makes me appreciate her even more. If there’s something that’s better for the greater good than for her, she’ll always prefer that.”
In the future, although Baker does not plan on majoring or minoring in dance, she wants to continue to find ways to participate in dance and continue doing what she has always loved to do.