Sophomore Alexandra Hodge dedicates life to future in ballet


Addy Wachter

Hodge settles to the ground. She has been dancing since the age of four and hopes to become a professional Ballerina in the future. Her family supports her driving her to her many rehearsals and classes but for them its all worth it when they see her dance. "I will say that is one thing that almost brings tears to my eyes," Dawn Hodge said. "Every time I watch her dance."

Pale pink pointe shoes patter rhythmically across the floor as Alexandra Hodge bounds into the air  hair cascading in waves behind her.

Hodge pours herself into dance, spending countless hours in class and rehearsal perfecting her technique.

“You have to focus your full mind full body on one thing,” said Hodge, a sophomore.  “You don’t really have time for anything else and it’s just it’s kind of like my freedom. I picture myself on the stage or in my favorite place or just out in the grass one summer day and then I  just dance.”

This focus has led Hodge to a promising future in dance, one that will take her to a summer workshop with the prestigious Boston Ballet.

Hodge started dancing at the age of four, in part as a way for her parents to channel her energy.

“She was all over the house jumping out off the furniture,” Dawn Hodge Hodges mom said “ I didn’t want her to hurt herself. So I thought the dance would be a good thing”

Since then Alex has spent much of free time in dance studios.. Her first ballet class was at Nancy Baum’s studio in 2006.  Alex credits the experience for laying much of the foundation for what followed.

“That’s where I  learned to really love to dance,” Hodge said. “She loved to dance, she wasn’t into competition. She wasn’t pushing people, she let them find ballet.”

Baum’s studio was a single room in the basement of her home with worn wooden floors. There Hodge danced until 2011 when the studio was closed after Baum passed away.

“It really sparked my love,” Hodge said. “ever since then, I can remember back to times when I was in that studio. I would see light on the floor, and  I’d be like, I’m going to jump over that light we just turned it into some dance move.”

After her first studio closed, Hodge began following her instructor to other dance studios around the area until she was pushed to go to Grand Rapids so she could continue to develop as a dancer.

“It’s very scary because the expectations were much higher,” Hodge said. “And I wasn’t at the top of my class, I really had to push myself and I had to find my independence myself. Because I wasn’t there to rely on my

Hodge credits those expectations with making her a stronger ballerina.

“It really helps me grow,” Hodge said “Ever since then, I’ve been more of an independent dancer. I don’t rely too much on other people to tell me what to do, or to push me.”

Hodge both takes lessons at the Grand Rapids Ballet and is a member of their Junior Company. Meaning she is involved in the performances that the Junior Company tackles each year.

Since joining the Junior company, Hodge has found herself in many roles that continue to challenge her and push her further in her dancing.

Attila Mosolygo, Director of the Grand Rapids Ballet Junior Company is quick to praise Alex’s work ethic, going so far as to call her “fantastic.”

“I know that she’s very strong as an individual as a person on her own” Mosolygo said. “She’s always able to carry certain roles that are soloists roles when she’s dancing by herself. But I wonder if her  greatest strength is being able to lead a team and oftentimes when we have group enters she would be the dancers, dancers would come to”

This doesn’t come without a major investment in time.

On weekdays Hodge travels the hour to Grand Rapids to attend dance classes and rehearsal. Most nights she is not  home until 9 pm .

“It’s really hard,” Hodge said “A lot of people think like oh yeah, just stick your legs in the air and twirl around it’s actually really hard you find muscles in your body that you did not think you had and they will hurt.

For Hodge, her time with the Grand Rapids Ballet is just a step to further herself as a dancer before she pursues a future in a larger company.

“This really is my passion” Hodge said “So that just keeps me going and getting better roles. And I want to become famous someday. So that’s pushing me too I just want to be the best”

This summer Hodge will take another step at furthering her chances for a future in dance at the Boston Ballet summer camp. There she will spend a month spending her days in classes  honing her skill as a ballerina.

“I’m so excited” Hodge said “the dancers there, they push you more, you dance more.”

After completing the  camp Hodge will be able to audition for their professional program, which could become a gateway to a career in dance.

Like many fields of the fine arts it is difficult to make a career out of ballet.

“It is possible to train your entire life and never actually be able to become a professional dancer” Mosolygo said “just because there’s so many dancers out in the field and looking for jobs. And there’s only so many jobs available”

However daunting the chances may be,  Hodge will forge on. For her, there is no other option.

“It’s just a part of me,”  said Hodge. “Like, God was just like, ‘she needs to do this.’ It’s just something that’s going to happen. And I feel like if  it was taken away from me, I don’t think I could function like even sitting here, I’m moving around. I’m trying because I need to do something. And dance is just my outlet. I need to dance.”