Setting the barre high
October 27, 2016
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Cathedral Catholic High School student Aaron Quini ’17 made history this year as the first male dancer to earn a spot on the school’s varsity dance team.
However, as it turns out, Quini almost did not audition for the team.
“I never intended on actually becoming a part of the team; I didn’t think I was fit to be on it,” Quini said. “When I auditioned, it was just for fun. I had nothing to do after school that day, so I figured there was no harm. When I found out I actually made the team, I was still unsure of committing because I wasn’t so sure it was something I wanted to do.
“But now, being on the team, I’m so glad I chose to do it.”
After auditioning on a whim and considering a commitment to the CCHS dance team on top of his dedication to his home dance studio, Danceology Performing Company, Quini found a new dance family that welcomed him like any other dancer.
“He’s wanted to be on dance team since he was a freshman and he finally gained the courage to do it, and I think that’s what’s so great about him,” CCHS student Emily Rowan ’17 said. “He’s a great example of someone who believed in himself and what he could accomplish.”
Through the years, Quini gradually built confidence, working his way up the ranks in the dance community. However, Quini has not always danced with the level of confidence and expertise he displays today.
At his first dance convention audition, Quini emerged on the stage alongside accomplished performers and under the eyes of judges and hundreds watching.
“When it came time for me to audition, I started dancing the combo alongside everyone else,” Quini said, recalling the memory. “But then there was this huge kick that everyone else did, and their feet went straight above their heads flawlessly, but when I did it, my leg got maybe 90 degrees off the ground before I went full Charlie Brown and landed on my back, in front of maybe 500 other dancers.”
While Quini’s first audition may have fallen flat, Quini laughs back at the moment as one he will never forget. It is hard to imagine how quickly Quini progressed from the kid who embarrassed himself in front of a huge crowd at his first audition to a dancer who gets crowds cheering on their feet for him at every performance and game, especially considering that he began taking dance seriously only a few years ago.
“I started out kind of weird,” Quini said. “At first I participated in my local studio’s “Nutcracker” ballet when I was 10, which consisted of skipping around the stage for half an hour, because both of my sisters were in it and I thought it would be fun.
“While I was in the ‘Nutcracker,’ the hip hop teacher at that studio said I should come to the all-boys class that he taught weekly. I was super nervous and shy. The other guys were like seven and eight [years-old] and they were already learning how to breakdance, and there I was taking my first dance class at 13 and I could barely two-step.”
However, Quini continued pursuing dance classes regardless of his age and ability differences.
“I met this really cute girl that told me to keep dancing,” Quini said. “Long story short, we became super close friends and she convinced me to dance more and more as the year progressed, and somehow I got drawn into joining the competition team. That team drew me into dance even more until I decided that this is what I want to do.”
Despite his initial doubts about following through with dance, the encouragement Quini receives in the studio and on the CCHS dance team inspires him daily to continue to go after his passion.
“We’re all friends, and everyone is so supportive of one another,” Quini said. “In my opinion, support from friends and other people in general is one of the most important things a dancer can carry with them. There is no feeling that I’ve ever experienced that can come close to performing in front of the people you love.”
As a fellow dancer and friend of Quini’s, Rowan understands the dedication Quini pours into his work, and how his talent for dance sets him apart from others.
“What I admire most about him is that he never stops chasing after his dreams,” Rowan said. “He’s one of the most hard-working, motivated, and determined people I have ever met. I’ve never seen someone with such a drive like him.
“He has so many goals for himself and what he wants to do with his life; he has such an open mind. It’s something that many people don’t have, so that’s what makes him different from a lot of people.”
Setting lofty goals for himself that he plans to bring into fruition, Quini realizes the value in hard training and dedication to his sport that must come first.
“Dreams don’t come true overnight,” Quini said. “I’ve spent countless nights wondering why I’m not living in L.A. dancing 24/7 or touring with famous music artists, but in the back of my head I know I have work my butt off for it to actually happen.”
In order to reach his goals of making big in dance, Quini spends countless hours putting in work in the dance studio, in addition to practicing with the CCHS dance team.
“Dance eats up time like no ones’ business,” he said. “It’s a struggle balancing school work, social life, and even sleeping with dance in my schedule.
“There have been so many days when I’m constantly in my head about dance versus school and vice versa because often times people have to pick one or the other in order to do well in either. Some, however, have chosen to tough it out and do both.
“Coming from a family of doctors, school was the obvious choice from my parents. But as for me, I hate just about anything that comes out of a textbook. To satisfy both worlds, here I am as a full time student trying to pursue the goals of a full-time dancer.”
As a full-time dancer clocking hours at his dance studio and at school, Quini is paving the way for future guys joining the dance program at CCHS with the support of his fellow CCHS Dance Team members.
“No matter what sport it is, if you have a passion for it, do not let gender definitions stop you from trying out,” Nicole Alldredge ’17 said. “I cannot express how much I admire Aaron for his decision to try out for Dance Team.”
Quini aims to break the stereotype that dance is solely a girl’s sport by setting the example.
“I hope that if other guys see me on the team, they’ll get inspired to try out for the team in years to come,” Quini said. “Dance isn’t very popular among guys, but I want to change that.”