Whirling and twirling

At three years old, Ryann DuRant pirouetted and pivot-stepped her way through ballet and jazz class. At five, on par with seven- and eight-year-old children, she joined the junior dance company in her hometown of Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Though her parents encouraged her to try a wide variety of sports and activities, dance was “the only thing that stuck,” she says. DuRant, a senior communication major and Presidential Scholar in Dance, will be performing in the upcoming Fall Dance Concert on Nov. 18-21. “This year we have so many new dance students,” says DuRant. “I want people to come and see the incredible talent we have in our dance program. People will be blown away.”

What does dance mean to you?
Dance is an outlet for expression, but equally important, it teaches life lessons. In dance, I learned self-discipline. I had to set goals and work hard to meet them. I learned how to carry myself — how to hold my head up in the face of tough criticism. I learned how to organize my time. These are lessons I wouldn’t have grasped without dance. Dance builds a well-rounded individual by teaching character qualities that can be used in the real world.

How much time do you spend dancing?
I usually dance three to five hours each day with dance classes Monday through Friday. An extra two hours in the evening is required in the weeks before the dance concert. I’m dancing in three dances this concert, two jazz and one ballet production.

What’s the hardest thing about preparing for the show?
Last year, my junior year, I sprained both ankles at different times. But the result was, I had to sit out of class the first half of both the fall and spring semesters. I couldn’t practice using pointe shoes last year. So, the ballet performance has been the most challenging for me. I’ve worked hard to overcome the injuries—rebuilding my confidence and proving to myself that I can get back out there and be in my toe shoes again.

What do you like about Wake Forest’s dance program?
Director of Dance Nina Lucas gives everyone the same amount of hands-on attention and guidance no matter what skill level—and there are people who have been dancing only two or three years in the same class as people who have been dancing practically all their lives. This really fosters supportive relationships among the dancers.

What are your plans after graduation?
My passion is for contemporary dance. I’ve worked hard academically throughout my college career so I could be a part-time student this spring. This will give me time to audition for modern dance companies. I’d like to be in New York, but wherever I can get work is fine with me as long as I can dance.

Will you make a career as a dancer?
I hope to dance for a few years and then move into a career in public relations—perhaps staying in the arts. For two summers, I danced at a theme park in Myrtle Beach, which was lots of fun and kept me fit. I was paid to dance and got to be out in the sun. It was awesome. But last summer, I was accepted to the Wake Washington program, which was fantastic. I had the opportunity to work with a public relations firm in D.C. I did sports-related and government-related PR work. Long term, public relations is where I hope to put my communications major to good use.

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