Catch Up With a Young Choreographer


Alexa Geidel

Sixth grader Bella Gregg strikes a pose with two of her dancers. Gregg and her friends pictured here competed at last weekend’s Young Choreographer’s Competition.

Alexa Geidel, Editor-In-Chief

Generally, when people say they learned their lesson it means they won’t go back and do what they did again. Yet for sixth grader Bella Gregg that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Gregg competed last Saturday in the Young Choreographer’s Competition at Tempe Center of the Arts. She raved about everything she learned.

The day started out like any dress rehearsal, a few standard runs of the number and some last minute costume fixes, but nothing out of the ordinary. That is until she was waiting in the wings – moments before her pride and joy would be showcased in front of a live audience and a judging panel made up of two celebrity dancers and last year’s winner – and her CD wouldn’t play. Every dancer hears the horror story of their music not playing and getting a bad score for having to do it a capella or simply being extra freaked out by the mistake. But Gregg wouldn’t let that happen. She pulled it together and her dancers helped her take deep breaths as they prayed the music would work on an iPhone. With professionalism and grace far beyond their years, the dancers and Gregg filed onto the stage to strike their beginning pose, seemingly unphased. Her dancers delivered and the dance went off without a hitch.

In the live interview before the dances began, each choreographer was pulled in front of the curtain and interviewers grilled them for details on their dance. Gregg expected to be shaking in her dance paws, but she remained cool and collected. She made sure to address a touching dedication to her older sister, Olivia Gregg, her inspiration, to let her know how much she looks up to her.

The judges only announced the first, second and, third place winners, among which Gregg did not rank. Yet the feedback from the judges proved that she wasn’t far from placing. They complimented the simple costumes and thoroughly developed story line. The only down-side was the timing, she reported. After the big turn-section, the timing was off from there on out. These corrections only give her more reasons to go back next year and prove that she learned from her mistakes and grew as a dancer and choreographer as a result.

The most rewarding part of the experience for Gregg was the actual night of the performance. Her dancers were prepared and eager to do their young choreographer justice. Each put their all into it. This showed Gregg how important it can be to perform full-throttle every chance you get. She reflected on the experience and explained that her music stall was redolent of a challenge the honors sixth grader is all too used to, “The show was kind of like a test in school. You need to be prepared because you only have one chance.”

As for next year, we won’t see Bella Gregg back on the stage; or at least in costume. She vowed to spend more time focusing on the other dancers and truly step into the role of choreographer by taking a step back and creating with a critical eye. She says she’ll be sure to utilize the stage better, drill timing harder, and bring extra copies of her music, just in case this year’s drama is repeated. She also encourages more parents, friends, and general spectators of the arts to attend, seeing as this year’s remarkable show was missed by many. “I have more respect for my dance teachers and choreographers than I did before and I hope I’ll dance better because of it,” Gregg shared.

To hear the beginning of Bella Gregg’s journey, check out the previous article, “People Help People