For Alex Reffie, a 20-year-old Telecommunications sophomore at the University of Florida, dancing runs through her veins.
She has her mom, a former professional dancer with Joffrey Ballet, and her dad, who formerly worked in theatre in New York City, partially to thank.
“I come from a very artistically inclined family,” she said.
Reffie’s mom enrolled her in dance at the age of 3, in tune with the family tradition.
She used to hide under the piano during ballet class. Seventeen years later, she takes the stage with Danza Dance Company.
Her fears of the ballet barre transformed into an incredible passion. Reffie remembers a moment when dance became more than just a hobby.
“I went to my first summer intensive at Ballet Florida when I was 9 years old,” she said. “I think it’s a big commitment when you say, ‘I want to spend my whole summer dancing and trying to excel.’”
All through high school, she was told to pick something practical, something she could make money doing. That just fueled her desire to put her all into her training.
“My mom put some pressure on me to pursue dance because she was a dancer, and she saw a lot in me,” she said.
Reffie said her plans to pursue dance haven’t changed, but they have gotten more specified in her time at UF. After a recommendation from her dad to try some film classes, she stumbled on Telecommunications, specifically the production track.
“The financially responsible and practical person in me knew that it wasn’t safe to not have a back-up plan,” she said.
She has discovered the ability to blend two things she loves and plans to pursue.
“In my production projects, I can think about what type of narrative I can make that incorporates dance, or what kind of story can I write that incorporates a dancer,” she said.
While her studies have taken center stage, Reffie has no plans to let her love for dance stay in the wings. That’s where Danza comes in.
She auditioned in the Spring 2016, and she will be performing with the team at UF’s Dance Marathon, Disney World this month. She will also be featured in two contemporary pieces in the Danza Showcase, which happens each semester.
“Danza has reignited the spark I had for dance,” she said. “I get to dance with a group of girls that is so invigorated with their passion for dance.”
She said that each dancer is extremely diverse, but when they all get together for their Monday technique classes and rehearsals, everyone is there for the same reason.
While some members joined the team to train for professional endeavors, Reffie said many of the dancers are there for the “genuine wholesomeness” of dance.
She finds that the diversity within Danza pushes her to experiment with styles that are out of the contemporary comfort zone. Every Monday, the team does a different style of dance in order to expand their variety.
“When we do a 3-hour long hip-hop class, I am thrown to the wolves,” Reffie said. “I can feel my technique being worked.”
Though Reffie has only been a member of the team for one semester, she said she has the opportunity to voice her opinions, and even showcase some of her own choreography. That has fueled her fire to take on more challenges.
“Having an executive board that is my age pushes me to be more confident as a dancer and work toward leadership roles,” she said.
When the stress of college kicks in, Reffie finds happy place and a family of 70 dancers when it is time to rehearse.
“For me, taking an hour out of my week to learn a dance and move around a little bit is perfect because it’s exactly what you need to get restarted,” she said.
Reffie said she has already seen major improvements in herself as a dancer, and she plans to audition again for the team next semester.
“Everyone there is a very talented dancer, so the bar has been raised for myself eons above what it was set when I first came to UF.”
Watch Alex Reffie and her Danza team perform at the Phillips Center on April 17! For more information, see their Facebook event page.