Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Isabella Paredes
The people Alivia Kistler loves most are the ones who dance beside her.
“I like performing a lot. I made some of my best friends through dance, so it’s nice to dance with them,” Kistler said.
The 17-year-old spends around nine hours in the dance studio each week. Kistler’s mother, Angela Elsen, said the 20-minute commute to the studio can be difficult, but Kistler’s entire family is very supportive of her dance career.
According to Kistler, she is very close with most of her immediate family, which includes her brother and step siblings. Kistler said her mother was the reason she first started dancing and that she continues to encourage her today.
“She was always dancing around and wearing tutus when she was little,” Elsen said. She enrolled Kistler in a ballet class in Nicole’s Dance Studio when she was only 4 years old. Kistler continued doing ballet until she was in the third grade when she enrolled in a variety of other types of dance-from musical theatre to hip-hop.
“Ballet is still my favorite because it’s the most difficult,” Kistler said. Recently, Kistler won a platinum award for musical theatre dance, which is one of the most prestigious awards at the Triple S dance competition. However, the Triple S competition is not Kistler’s favorite dance competition that she participated in.
“I went to nationals in Mason, Ohio around four years ago. It was probably my favorite place,” Kistler said. She has been competing since the sixth grade, but she still enjoys doing to the theatre and watching somebody else perform. According to Kistler, her favorite ballet is Sleeping Beauty.
Kistler said the most difficult aspect of spending nine hours at the studio each week is that she has trouble keeping up with her schoolwork. However, Elsen said her daughter finds a balance between her schoolwork and dancing.
“She always finds a way to get her schoolwork done. Sometimes she’ll bring her books to the studio,” Elsen said. Along with dance, Kistler is involved in her school’s yearbook.
Kistler said she’s interested in many different types of art, and she reads whenever she can find the time. Her two favorite books that she’s read are the “Book Thief” and “Catcher in the Rye.”
Although she enjoys dancing, Kistler said she was not going to major in dance while in college, where she will be studying journalism somewhere in Wisconsin.
“The studio is honestly my favorite place to be,” Kistler said. She hopes to continue taking dance classes throughout college and the rest of her professional career.