Feature: Clare Melley ’19 – Balancing School and Dance


Maddie Marcucci '19, Contributing Writer

All Montrosians have different hobbies and activities that we go to once we leave 29 North Street at 3:15 in the afternoon.  Clare Melley ‘19 heads off to the dance studio five days a week. She has been dancing since she was three years old, and she started dancing more competitively when she was in seventh grade. The dance studio is where she finds her happy place. She said: “ I always loved to dance. I used to complain about going to soccer practice and basketball games, but I was always happy to go to dance.”

Clare dances eleven hours a week. To put this in perspective, according to the US department of Health and Human services, the average teenage girl spends 5.3 hours a week at sports practice or games. So, Clare basically spends double the amount of time than an average teenager does at her extracurricular outlets.

Because of this significant commitment, one would think that it would be hard to balance dance and school. But Clare approaches this feat with a different perspective: “It can be really difficult to balance school and dance, but I could not do one without the other. Dance is a really great outlet for me to get my mind off of my work after a long day at school, and I also find that exercising after school helps me do my homework more efficiently.  On my days off, I tend to waste time rather than get right to my school work.”

Not only do they work on technique, but they will also learn different combinations to put together for their show at the end of the year.  “The reason we don’t call it a recital is because Paulette [the head of her studio] puts together a performance that has a theme and moves from one dance to the next with lighting and everything, so it really is a show more than just a recital.” The week before the show is similar to that of a tech week for a play. Clare describes the tech week pattern: “As many of my teachers know, I have to be dismissed from school every day of the week because we have blocking and dress rehearsals. Monday through Friday we are at the theater from 1-10, with few breaks in between for homework. Even though I am totally stressed out that week trying to keep up with school, I am also so happy. I’m surrounded by some of my best friends all week, and the hard work that we have put in all year is getting showcased to our friends and family to see. It means so much to me when my Montrose friends make an effort to come see my show. Dress rehearsals when we are dancing in our costumes for the first time are so exciting. The week brings us all together so much, and it’s the perfect way to end the year.”

Obviously, it takes a lot of dedication to dance as competitively as Clare does. However, it must take a lot of love for the sport. Clare agrees, “My favorite part of dance is that I get to express myself through dance . My friends at my studio and I always talk about how our school friends don’t know a huge part of us because they don’t see us at dance. None of us are really different at dance; we just are doing what we love together, and that gives us a special bond. I also love my dance teachers. The woman who runs the studio is named Paulette and she is 89 but still shows up every Wednesday and teaches for three hours straight. She cares so much about all of her students and helps all of us learn from her experiences. Lastly, I also love that I get to assistant teach little kids at my studio. I teach three-and four-year-olds on Saturday mornings and it’s so special to me. I get to share my love for dance with them and I get to watch them grow up in the studio.”