Perspective: Interview with Hannah Paige

Name: Hannah Paige
Age: 14 
Where are you from? Norfolk, Virginia
Where do you currently live/train? I live in Portsmouth, Virginia, and I train in Suffolk, Virginia at Dynamic Movements.
What kind of pointe shoes do you wear? Gaynor Minden

How and when did you get your start in dance?

At the age of three, I began dancing at my church on the liturgical dance team. I began studying ballet at age six.

Can you tell us about some of your favorite Summer Intensive experiences?

My first ever summer intensive was Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) in
Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The summer intensive was five weeks, and I enjoyed the focus on classical ballet technique. This SI was a suggestion by my ballet teachers, Shomarre Potter, a former student at CPYB, and Ms. Pat Sorrell, a teacher at CYPB. There, I met amazing teachers and very talented students. I have created lasting friendships with a few dancers to this day.

Last summer, I attended the Richmond Ballet Summer Intensive on a full scholarship! This was a huge opportunity for me and my family. RB SI was a five-week opportunity, and I was introduced to different styles of dance including classical ballet, jazz, modern, and character. This summer intensive was taught by some of their company members. I met some great friends as well in Richmond, VA, and I learned a lot from both summer intensives. From year to year, I was challenged and grew stronger and more confident as a dancer. My focus is classical ballet, and both experiences challenged my strength, flexibility, agility, and focus as a dancer.

Hannah Paige © Merciez PhotographyHannah Paige © Merciez Photography

Do you have any funny memories or stories you can share with us from the stage or studio?
At the age of seven, we were performing Cinderella; I was a flower girl, and I kicked a prop off the stage. The prop flew into the wings... I was so embarrassed!

How have you learned to adapt as a dancer over the last few months?
As a dancer, it's been a little hard to adapt over the last few months. My dad made me a barre and purchased Marley flooring. My parents transformed the room over the garage into a dance studio space so that I could have accessibility to training at home. I have been taking advantage of the live class sessions with NYC Ballet, Precious Adams, Tiler Peck, and Ashley Bouder.

I know that you make and sell dancewear accessories through your Instagram account, @balletaccesories_byhannah! So cool! How did you come up with that idea?
@Balletaccesories_byhannah is my Instagram dance-wear accessories page. My
mother and I came up with the idea two years ago. I used my little sisters, Amelia and Abigail, as models, as well as a few dance friends from my studio. During quarantine, my dad made my barre, and he wanted to help my classmates as well when he noticed that some dancers were dancing on chairs instead of barres. He started making portable barres, and we started to sell them.

What is an element in your technique that you would like to improve the most? What are you most proud of in your dancing?
An element of my technique that I would like to improve the most is my turnout. My proudest moment as a dancer was when I became the first African American Sugar Plum Fairy Attendant for the Norfolk cast of Richmond Ballet's Nutcracker in 2018!

Hannah Paige © Merciez Photography

Hannah Paige © Merciez Photography

Our mantra is #FeelGoodDanceBetter. What do you do as an athlete/artist to take care of your body daily?
Every athlete/artist is challenged to take care of his/her own body on a daily basis. This consists of eating healthy meals, staying hydrated, rolling out my muscles, doing full-body stretches, [taking] occasional ice baths, and getting enough rest. This regimen ensures that my body and mind are healthy enough for the demands of ballet.

What’s something you struggle with as a dancer?
As an African American ballet dancer, I sometimes struggle with my appearance. I often see thin, Caucasian girls as the image of ballet. Not seeing prima ballerinas in my hue or shade and body type is very difficult at times.

Who inspires you as a dancer and why? 
The two dancers that inspire me are Precious Adams (English National Ballet) and
Nikisha Fogo (San Francisco Ballet)! They are both such beautiful dancers; every time they dance, they make me want to hold my breath!

What are your favorite dancewear brands and why?  
My favorite brands of dancewear are Gaynor Minden, LuckyLeo, and Sheer Chemistry. I love LuckyLeo’s leotards because of the material they use; they provide mesh for various skin tones. Sheer Chemistry’s tights are the best. I found this brand because Precious Adams wears them; Nairobi Sunrise is the shade I wear. Sheer Chemistry tights are manufactured in all shades and look so great on my skin!

Hannah Paige © Merciez PhotographyHannah Paige © Merciez Photography

Why is it important to have dance shoes that match your individual skin tone? 
I think it's important for dancers to have shoes that match our individual skin tone because it looks better, and it allows dancers of color to feel better about ourselves. Our lines look better with the individual skin toned tights and shoes.

What is one product in your dance bag that you can’t live without!?
One product in my dance bag that I couldn’t live without would be my Tiger Balm, of course. Tiger Balm instantly makes all my aches feel better. 

What is something interesting that people might not know about you?
I love school, and I hope to be an engineer one day like my mother!

What’s next for Hannah? What are your short-term and long-term plans or goals?
I would like to go to a year-round dance school like SAB... and to go to YAGP!

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