The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a professional school for the performing, visual and moving image arts. It offers options for students at the high school, undergraduate and master's levels for professional careers in the arts.
We checked in with sophomore, Michaela Kinsey, on how things are going as a dancer and student at UNCSA.
First, happy belated birthday! Did all of your birthday wishes come true this year?
Thank you! My birthday wish was to have a fun chill day while I was home visiting for Christmas break!
How’d you celebrate your birthday?
I went to LA with my brother and had a fun day exploring.
What about your 20’s are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to all of the new possibilities that my 20s bring. In this decade I will graduate college, start my own life and career. I feel very excited about the opportunities that await.
Okay, time to backtrack—how old were you when you started dancing?
It was the day after I turned three that I started ballet. The youngest I could be was 3 and I was dying to take a real ballet class.
What, or who, inspired you to begin dancing?
My mom and Grandma bought me a play tutu as a toddler and I loved dancing in it so much my mom decided to put me in a class.
When did you know that you wanted to make a career out of dance?
I would say at the age of 15 or 16 I began to get more and more serious about ballet.
What’s one correction, note, or piece of advice that you received as a young dancer, that’s stuck with you to this day?
That your mind is your greatest asset. Without mental focus and determination your talent can only take you so far.
What was one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a dancer?
My body’s natural alignment and my above average height
You have incredible extension! What are some tips you have for young dancers on how to improve extension? Do you have any favorite stretches?
I stretch religiously! Some of my extension is natural flexibility but I do make an effort to keep my hamstrings flexible but strong. One of my favorite stretches is sitting in a frog or doing over-spilts on a chair.
What made you decide to attend UNCSA? Were you considering other programs as well?
UNCSA found me! I wasn’t even thinking about college when I met a UNCSA faculty member at YAGP. After seeing me compete I was invited to the school a few days later.
What’s one thing (if anything) about college life that’s shocked you?
That your life outside of the studio or classroom is a big learning experience.
What’s your favorite thing so far about attending UNCSA?
The community of artists. Since this is an art school it is oozing with creativity and inspiration.
Do you have a favorite memory about your UNCSA experience so far?
I have a lot of funny memories of my friends and I being goofy and laughing about anything and everything. Its the little things that I look back at very fondly.
Which professor, ballet master, or choreographer has made a big impact on you so far? Is it hard to pick just one?
My teacher Eva Draw has made such an impact on the way I view ballet. She is incredibly tough but she is so inspiring and makes me work my absolute hardest.
Outside of your classical training, what are your favorite liberal arts courses at UNCSA?
I am currently tackling Anatomy. It is quite difficult but it is so important for dancers to have a good grasp on anatomy and body composition.
Have you learned anything about the history of dance that’s stood out to you, or shocked you?
When I learn more and more about ballet history I am so surprised about the women that shaped its history but are not very famous for their contributions to dance.
I think that's something that we need to change moving forward.
It’s still a little early on, but have you started thinking about your final choreographed work? How do you feel about getting to choreograph your own piece?
I think choreography is exciting but a little daunting. I have seen a lot of student choreography since dancing here and I have been very inspired. I am excited to choreograph and play with movement and come up with something that I am proud to present to my peers.
Speaking of pieces, what’s your favorite piece or variation that you’ve ever performed?
I did Paquita a few years ago and it was one of my favorite ballets I have done so far. I think it is such a classic and I felt so cool dancing it.
How do you balance your demanding dance schedule with other classes and leisure time?
It is a delicate balance between working hard and overworking. I try to find a few moments every day to let myself sit and breathe and do something positive to keep myself from getting too overwhelmed. Organization is also crucial to juggle all of your classes, rehearsals and other responsibilities.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not dancing?
I really enjoy reading and cooking. I also have a slight makeup obsession.
Do you have a pre-performance ritual that you stick to?
I try to visualize the performance going the way I want it to.
What’s your favorite pre-dance snack?
I love Luna bars or a handful of nuts. Also, coffee is a must.
How do you unwind after a long day at the studio?
A shower and some Youtube makeup tutorials.
If you could master one dance style outside of ballet, what would it be?
Contemporary or hip hop. I have become more and more interested in contemporary since dancing at UNCSA. Also, I would love to be good at hip hop because its very fun to me.
And finally, besides your shoes, what are your dance bag must-haves?
A snack, a notebook for writing corrections, toe tape, and my RubiaWear leg warmers.