Eeshi Uppalapati: “I’ve been dancing since I was 2 years old, so that’s 13+ years. I started off with ballet as a baby and added on jazz, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, and Bollywood as I got older. My favorite styles of dance are contemporary and hip hop. Contemporary is like a combination of the other genres, and it usually differs from studio to studio, which makes it really beautiful to me. Hip hop is just really upbeat and energetic; plus, all of the stunts and tricks look really cool on stage. Dance has taught me to have a growth mindset. In dance, there’s always room to grow and steps to be made. It’s a really rewarding feeling when you get something down that you’ve been trying really hard on, not for your teachers or to compete with your peers but for yourself. The entire dance community is really inspiring to me. I started off as a baby because my parents enrolled me in classes, but I continued because as I watched other dancers perform, I realized how beautiful this activity is. My emotions when I dance completely mirror the genre, song, choreography, and mood of the dance. People often say to be a great dancer, you need to put emotions in the dance, but I think of it more as to be a dancer in general, you have to make the dance give you emotions. There’s definitely some underestimation of the toughness and controversy over whether dance is a sport or not. I think it’s this really cool combination of sport and art because there’s a lot of physical strength, endurance, and flexibility involved in dance that is honestly a bit painful, but the audience doesn’t see it because of the expressions and emotions we have to display. Regarding dance, I couldn’t pick whether it’s a sport or an art, because, to me, both of them combined gives a more complete overview of it. Dance has aspects of physical activity: strength, endurance, flexibility, and cardio. It also ‘forces’ you to feel emotions and express them, something a lot of people might not do usually. Dance uses a lot of brainpower; counting to the music and dancing on counts doesn’t come easily to some people and really takes practice and repetition. It also helps with muscle coordination and spatial awareness. Dance is good for both your physical and mental health, and I firmly believe that anyone and everyone can dance/has a bit of dance inside them.