BAXTER - Adina Belanger moved to Baxter "two weeks ago, literally," but she's already in full swing as a dance teacher and choreographer at Just for Kix.
The Dispatch recently chatted with the 22-year-old Marquette, Mich., native about her background and what she thinks of the job so far.
Dispatch: When did you know you wanted to have a career in dance?
Belanger: I always knew. I started at age 3 and I couldn't really see myself doing anything else.
Adina Belanger choreographed a routine Wednesday at the Just for Kix studio in Baxter. Belanger, originally from Michigan, is the newest teacher at the studio.
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Dispatch: This is the kind of field where younger people are the performers.
Belanger: It depends on what you do; there are so many types of dance. But it's a very competitive field, and that takes a toll. You're always auditioning and finding new work. It's tiring and not stable. So I was looking for something that was stable and I could still perform for fun. It's a crazy life just trying to be a performer.
Job: Teacher/choreographer at Just for Kix.
Favorite meal: "I'm Italian, so a big ol' bowl of pasta."
Music you listen to when traveling: Lil Wayne.
Favorite dance TV show: "America's Best Dance Crew."
Favorite music to dance to: "Anything by Adele."
Favorite music to sing: "Something by Alicia Keys."
Fall TV show you're looking forward to: "The new season of 'Grey's Anatomy.'"
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Dispatch: It's kind of like being an actor.
Belanger: It's just like that. You're always thinking, "What am I going to do once this show is over?"
Dispatch: Did you go to college?
Belanger: I went to college in Ohio at Wright State University; I was a dance major. And I got offered a scholarship (at Broadway Dance Center) in New York and I decided to take it. It was amazing; nothing could compare to it. You're in the center of everything. The building was in Times Square.
Dispatch: When you were taking classes, were you also getting a chance to perform?
Belanger: Yes. I was in a contemporary jazz company called Pushing Progress.
Dispatch: What are some highlights of your time in New York?
Belanger: The company was by far the No. 1 thing. But I danced at a theater there, and there were some stars that came to watch. I know Justin Timberlake and Lindsay Lohan were watching one day. It was a place called The Box. I did one piece singing and another piece of contemporary jazz. We did whatever we wanted; that's why it was fun.
Dispatch: What TV shows have you been on?
Belanger: I did the first season of "Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann" (earlier this year). The two judges from "Dancing with the Stars" picked groups to compete against each other. I was in the first episode and got cut after that.
Dispatch: What was the experience like?
Belanger: I went into it not knowing "Dancing with the Stars." I did it because my Broadway instructor said I should audition. I didn't think I'd actually be (on TV). Everyone was telling me, "I saw you on TV." I danced with Bruno and I think that's probably why.
Dispatch: And then you got cut. Is that something you take seriously?
Belanger: No, because as a dancer, you have to know how to handle rejection, because you do 100 auditions and you get three. They're looking for a certain type - the right hair color, the right height - so you don't take it personally. You go with the flow.
Dispatch: Your mom was the head of a tap dance program (in Marquette). So did you grow up in a family of dancers?
Belanger: Only my mom, and she only started teaching after she had kids.
Dispatch: When did you learn about Just for Kix and look into coming out here?
Belanger: Just for Kix has camps in the summer for dance teams. I was on my high school dance team, so I went to camp for three years, and eventually they were like, "You should apply for staff here," and I worked at the camps. This was my fifth summer. And this is my first full-time job here.
Dispatch: Do you think it's unusual for a town of this size to have not just one, but two major dance studios?
Belanger: It's just crazy. This is about the same size as my hometown. Dance is huge in Marquette. We had five different studios, and they were all on the same block.
Dispatch: How are they able to thrive in a small town?
Belanger: It's all a tight-knit circle. Sometimes they say, "Come back and do a workshop." They pull back people who have gone on to do other things.
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