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The Class of 2020 - Caps, Gowns, and COVID-19

Check out our other senior feature winners in our podcast episode!

The class of 2020 will have plenty of stories to tell their grandchildren about the year they graduated from high school. Highlighting those stories will be tales of loss, quarantine, and what happens when entire families have to conduct school, work, and dance classes all online from home. Impact Dance Adjudicators wanted to give senior dancers something else to remember after life goes on to whatever our "new normal" becomes, and ran an Instagram contest asking them to submit their stories of how COVID-19 has affected their senior year. We chose three incredible seniors who were featured on a recent episode of our podcast, Making the Impact, but we had so many inspiring submissions and we wanted to highlight a few more of these outstanding dancers! [Statements have been edited for length and clarity]

Riley Bauer attends Back Stage Dance Center in Killingworth, CT.

She has been dancing for 16 years, and had the opportunity to compete in The International Dance Organization's 2017 World Tap Championships. When asked to describe a favorite memory from her dance years, she brought up her time on the USA Tap Team.

"I was thrown into long rehearsals with people that I had grown up competing against as we worked to create the best line, groups, duos and trios possible. Despite coming from 6 different studios, we all very quickly banded together and became very close. This alone was very inspiring for me. Coming from a very shy place in my freshman year, I felt welcomed by the similar interest, passion, and dedication that we all shared. When we finally made it to Germany, the familial energy that was already present on our team was magnified once we set foot in the arena. Hundreds of dancers from 40 different countries came together to make this happen! The talent was insane, and the personalities I encountered were so full of life and passion. I was so honored to take class from, compete against, and even befriend some of the most talented dancers in the world. Team USA sent many dances to the championship, two of which I performed in; a Line group and a Small group. My small group, along with another US small group made it through to the finals, and we placed first and second! But walking away with a silver medal was not what made the experience for me, it was all that I had learned about myself, and the world. I realized how much more was out there for me to learn, and since then I have dedicated myself to take advantage of every opportunity that I possibly can. This is what has pushed me to take risks, and I could not have done it without the help of my dance family. Moreover, I plan to carry these lessons with me as I take the next steps in my life!"

Lauren Brophy attends Dance Innovations Dance Center in Greenland, NH.

Lauren has danced for 13 years, and has big plans for her future. "After graduation I am attending boot camp with the Air Force. I have enlisted in the Air National Guard where I'll be an administrator for one of their departments. I also am attending University of New Hampshire, where I want to major in Hotel Hospitality Management. I love dance more than anything, [and] I can't imagine a life without it. Therefore, I'll be minoring in dance at UNH so I can always have it as a part of my life. Air National Guard has a program where you can attend any in-state college and also be in the military. So I applied for colleges all around New Hampshire. But I accepted UNH because I love their dance program. When I went and visited I felt immediately at home. They welcomed me with open arms and that was just the open house. I knew in that moment that this was the place for me. Since dance is just something I love to do, my only goal is just to keep it a part of my life. To not let it go. Whenever dance may take me in this world, I hope to continue. I hope that my military career goes well but also my college life. I'm not sure how dance will continue with me after college, but I know it my heart there will always be a place for it. Dance has allowed me to be me."

MacKenzie Long dances at CK DanceWorks in Dallas, GA,

where she has been a student for 12 years. She plans to attend Kennesaw State University and major in Modern. Her path to a dance degree started with a rejection, though.

MacKenzie says, "When I joined

my competition team, I met my most inspirational teacher, Mrs. Allison Gupton. She is the one who introduced me to contemporary and I immediately fell in love with the style. Getting to portray complex emotions and stories through dancing was so incredible and freeing and I loved every concept she challenged me with. She has provided me with many wonderful opportunities for growth, such as

choreographing my solos and giving me an

opportunity to have one of them filmed professionally, something I never thought I would do! Getting to perform my first solo that she choreographed for me and winning a judge award for it has been one of my proudest moments and I hope it made her proud as well. She has been there to support through many tough situations, such as the loss of my grandfather and being in a car accident. She has been there to support me and provide an outlet for me to express my emotions. When I auditioned for the dance program at Kennesaw State University, she had full faith in me. It reminded me of how determined I was to get this because I wanted to, so when I was rejected the first time, I came back and tried again. When I told her I was accepted, she was elated and it made me beyond happy to see her reaction."

We wish these seniors the best as they head into the next chapter of their lives!

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