Alumni Spotlight: Julia Rzonca

This spring, Julia Rzonca became the first graduate of the Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts Conservatory Program with a Choreographic Apprenticeship. Training to dance and perform is important, but we are also privileged to be investing in the next generations of choreographers, instructors and other important roles within the dance field. 

Julia also graduated from Lemont High School this spring and will be pursuing a degree in choreography at Western Michigan University in the fall. Before she heads off to college, we asked Julia to share a little about her passion for choreography here on the blog.

Q. What interests you most about choreography?

A. The main thing that interests me most about choreography is how a person is able to tell a powerful story through movement, not words. I find it amazing how a choreographer can make the audience feel different emotions and share his or her stories without having vocal dialogue.

Q. What inspires you to choreograph?

A. Something that inspires me to choreograph is the trials I have experienced in my life. I want the audience to experience the feelings I have felt and how a person can overcome whatever they are going through. Another main thing that inspires me to choreograph is my faith. I want to share with others the greatness of God and the amazing things He has done in my life.

Q. What is the first step of your choreographic process?

A. I personally like to lay on my bedroom floor and listen to a song that I'm trying to choreograph to on repeat. I start to picture the shapes and movement in my head and then begin to work out the sequences in space. I then proceed to write them down in a journal. Writing it down keeps my brain organized and makes it a much smoother process when teaching it to the dancers.

Q. What has challenged you the most as a choreographer?

A. The hardest thing for me is opening up to my dancers and the audience and sharing my thoughts and feelings of some of the hardships I have experienced in different seasons of my life. I need to work on finding comfort in being vulnerable.

Q. What has been your favorite piece to choreograph?

A. My favorite piece by far to choreograph was "Conformity," a piece I created and was adjudicated for Regional Dance America's National Festival in Phoenix, Arizona. It was an awesome experience setting the new choreography on my friends that I dance with everyday and experimenting with new things under the pressure of a tight schedule.

Dancers from Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts Conservatory Program in Julia Rzonca's Conformity at Regional Dance America's National Festival in Phoenix, Arizona, in May 2017.

Dancers from Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts Conservatory Program in Julia Rzonca's Conformity at Regional Dance America's National Festival in Phoenix, Arizona, in May 2017.

Q. As a choreographer, who are your influences?

A. Some inspirational people that have given me motivation to choreograph is Ms. Julianna Slager, the Artistic Director of Ballet 5:8, and Wayne McGregor, the Resident Choreographer for The Royal Ballet. Ms. Julianna Slager has been my mentor for a few years now and is always pushing me out of my comfort zone to improve and grow. Wayne Mcgregor's style of choreography inspires me to discover new movements which drives me to create more abstract pieces.

Q. What are your dreams for your future career in choreography?

A. After college graduation, my dream and goal would to become a resident choreographer for a dance company, preferably in Chicago. I want to be able to come into a studio and put work on dancers and share my choreography with everybody.

Q. What are you working on at the moment?

A. At the moment, I'm working on a piece to teach some students at the Ballet 5:8 Summer intensive! It is to a worship song about God's amazing love and endless grace He has for everybody.

Q. Do you have any advice for other dancers interested in choreography?

A. Some advice I have for other dancers is to not be afraid of leaving the stage to choreograph and putting yourself out there. Transitioning from dancing on stage to choreographing has been a challenge for me. After dancing for so many years and now discovering choreography, it is very different to sit in the audience watching a piece you created, rather than dancing it on stage. Don't be afraid of not dancing, and just watching it from inside the wings. It is equally amazing being able  to view dances at a different angle, being able to watch from the audience, and to also watch back stage from the wings.