The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Time out! Ep. 9: Gracie Lee

Following Gracie Lee’s journey in dance

MK: Hello everyone, my name is Manas Kottakota and I am joined here with Sagnik Nag Chowdhury for episode 9 of Time Out! Each episode, we will be diving into the sports scene here at MVHS and exploring the journeys of athletes from various sports. 

SNC: This episode, we’re joined by senior Gracie Lee, who dances at MVHS and outside of school. We will be diving deeper into her journey of her dance career. Let’s get into it.

SNC: How and when did you start dancing?

GL: I started dancing when I was two, but competitively when I was six.

SNC: And what were your thoughts initially going into dance, why did you choose it specifically?

GL: I was inspired a lot by my sisters. They both started from a young age too. So you know, like as the youngest, they were like my main inspiration for dance. But also, personally, when I was in class, it was always fun and I was always laughing and it became a lot easier for me to make friends because of my dance classes.

SNC: What is one of your earliest memories of dance?

GL: Well, growing up, I was really shy and reserved, but dance brought me out of my shell a lot. And it’s where I made my first friend and we’re still friends today so that’s really cool.

SNC: And what is one of your favorite moments that you look back on about dance?

GL: I guess I would say just in general, competitions with my team because I feel like yes, it feels good to win, but also it’s always a good team bonder and I always feel closer to my teammates afterward.

SNC: What do you think are some of the challenges that you faced?

GL: I think sometimes it can be difficult because dance is always evolving, so it’s really hard to stay on track and stay on top of your dancing, especially when there’s so much talent growing right now. [I would say] styles and also just like people exploring movement has become so much more of a normal thing to do. People finding new styles and new ways of dancing is what is making dance advance so much.

SNC: And how do you adapt [to] these challenges?

GL: I think just going into every class with an open mind, even if I haven’t done that specific style before, I know it’s going to help me grow in the long term, so take class with a grain of salt and not being closed off to any ideas.

Gracie Lee strikes a dance pose in a pink outfit during a photoshoot. Photo courtesy of Gracie Lee | Used with permission

SNC: Do you think there is a time commitment for dance for starters?

GL: Yeah, for sure. It was something I had to get used to before because right after school, I danced for five hours every day. So yeah, it’s definitely a time commitment.

SNC: And how does it affect your personal life?

GL: I think time management was a really big skill that even I’m still working on, but it’s hard. As a senior and going into high school, you want to have time for hanging out with your friends but also, because I know this is what I want to do for my future, I also need to set aside time for me to grind and focus on what I’m doing.

SNC: Kind of like a segue into the next question, what are your goals for dance in the future?

GL: Yeah, well, there’s a lot of different routes for dance, but I feel specifically for me, I really want to be in the commercial world, so like television and TV shows or anything like that. That’s my dream.

SNC: And is this something that you’ve kind of been set on for a while? Or did you realize it over time?

GL: It was definitely something that I realized just recently. Just because, like I said, dance is so open now. There are really so many pathways that you can go so it takes a lot of exploring and thinking to figure out what you want to do with dance.

SNC: And how do your teammates and friends support and inspire you?

GL:  With my teammates, I feel like we always just push each other to be better and it’s a healthy relationship between competition and being friends and having so much love for each other that you want each other to be better. So I feel like healthy competition is always pushing me but I always know that it is a safe space at the studio [where] I can just do whatever I can.

SNC: I know you mentioned earlier that your sisters inspired you to start dancing. So how do you think that your family inspires you in this area?

GL: Growing up in an Asian household, sometimes I’m very lucky to have parents that support the arts and are willing to support me in what I want to do. So my parents are definitely my main source of motivation. They are letting me do this so I need to show that I can make it as a dancer. So yeah, I feel like that’s my main drive.

SNC: Can you describe your experience with dance in MVHS?

GL: Yeah, I started on the dance team as a sophomore because my freshman year was online during COVID. And the first coach of the MV Dance Team, I was in a Zoom class with her, she messaged me on private messages and asked me to try out next year. So that’s where my start was. But, I feel like going into it, I was a little bit wary of how I would do on a dance team at school because it’s so different than what I do at a studio. But I feel like over the years I’ve just had so much fun with [the] dance team and made so many more friends and yeah, I feel like it’s made me [a] more advanced dancer.

SNC: And could you describe your experience dancing outside of school?

GL: Yeah, I would say it’s definitely really different. Not that it’s any harder, I feel like they’re both pretty intense work, but just like it’s what I’m going to do when I go to college or something because dancing has always been fun for me, but I feel like the commercial world is more what I’m doing at my studio.

SNC: Have you ever traveled for dance?

GL: Yeah. So for conventions, it’s a weekend long, dance intensive and it’s in different states and stuff. Usually during the year, I’ll travel to different places and compete for the weekend and come back for school on Monday.

SNC: Could you describe one of your best experiences traveling for dance?

GL: It’s always cool to travel. I think my favorite time I’ve traveled is probably when we went to Seattle. Or actually, I would say when we went to nationals this past year‒ it was in Vegas. And I feel like that was a really big team. I got really close to my team in Vegas and we just had a lot of fun.

SNC: I think you mentioned this earlier, but what is the biggest difference between the school dance team and club dance team?

GL: It’s kinda like how any other sport is, it’s almost a little more intense in your club activity or clubs so I would say outside of school. It’s more focused on what I’m going to do with my career but in school, it’s more focused on the now and how it is at school, if that makes sense.

SNC: And what would you say is the most fun part about dance?

Gracie Lee takes center-stage during Monta Vista Dance Team’s performance in the “Welcome Back Rally.” Photo by Manas Kottakota

GL: I think just being able to express myself without having to say anything and learning new movements and having this crazy quality that not a lot of people possess is a really cool thing to have.

SNC: And do you have any favorite styles of dance and why would you say that is your favorite?

GL:  Growing up, it used to be hip-hop. But as I’ve gotten older, I feel like contemporary is my favorite right now. Just because I feel like it’s such a broad genre like there are so many different types of styles that fit into the contemporary category.

SNC: What would you say is the hardest part about dance?

GL: I would say [mentally, it’s really challenging because] everyone’s evolving all the time. So it can be discouraging sometimes just because you have to keep up, but yeah, you just have to have a really strong mental space.

SNC: Has dance taught you any life lessons?

GL: Yeah, I would say it’s definitely taught me a lot because I’ve grown up dancing, but time commitment is number one, like how to manage my time. And then also, just learning how to shake things off, when things don’t necessarily go my way. Because you know, auditions don’t always go your way or stuff like that. So learning how to take that and learn from it rather than just sitting and feeling sorry for yourself.

SNC: And then finally, is there anything else you would like to share?

GL: I guess, dance has always been my number one outlet, for everything. So, if you have that thing that makes you want to keep going, I’d say just pursue it and see where it goes. I still don’t know what my future is going to look like, but I know dance is definitely going to be in it.

SNC: That is it for episode 9 of Time Out! Thank you so much Gracie for joining us on this episode. I’m Sagnik. 

MK: I’m Manas and thanks for tuning in!

Music by lukrembo

About the Contributors
Sagnik Nag Chowdhury, Opinion Editor
Sagnik Nag Chowdhury is currently a junior and an opinion editor for El Estoque. In his free time, he likes watching TV, biking with his friends, trying new foods and discovering new places in Cupertino.
Manas Kottakota, Sports Editor
Manas is currently a junior and sports editor for El Estoque. In his free time, he enjoys biking with his friends, traveling to new places with his family and cooking.
More to Discover