Ballet AZ Blog

Studio Company Spotlight: Jordan Islas

Jordan-Islas headshot

How did you start dancing?

I started dancing when I was 11 years old and the reason I started ballet is funny to me. When I was younger, I loved to play soccer but did not have the best coordination and would trip over my own feet. One day, I was watching a news clip online and it showed football players doing ballet to improve their balance and coordination, so I thought I should do ballet to improve at soccer.

My school, Clarendon Elementary had an after school ballet program, but I was afraid to join and be made fun of by my peers. Despite that, one of my friends convinced me to join with him and we were taught by Camden Lloyd – she was actually the one who introduced me to Ballet Arizona. I joined SBAZ in 2014 and it really helped me understand ballet and grew my love for this art form. Without the teachers at Ballet Arizona I don’t think I would be where I am today. They pushed me to my limits, helping me achieve goals I never thought I would achieve. I am truly grateful for all they have done for me.

How was the journey from SBAZ to Studio Company?

Being a student at SBAZ was challenging for me, trying to balance my time between school, dance, and having a personal life. Once I had time to really focus on dance that is when I saw the most growth in my skills and confidence. I think my teachers saw how much effort I was putting in, how much I was improving, and it all came together. One day, I was called into a meeting with Maria Simonetti, the School Director, and she told me they were putting me into Studio Company the next school year. I was so excited knowing all my efforts had not gone unnoticed.

Who is your greatest dance inspiration?

One of my inspirations is Jonathan Batista, a Principal with Pacific Northwest Ballet! I admire his work ethic and talent and am fascinated by his journey, coming from Brazil and getting a full scholarship to English National Ballet School. To see a person that looks like me, achieving such a high title in the ballet world, gave me a north star. It showed me the culture for black dancers was becoming less rigid and more accepting. I hope I can shine just as bright as him and let others, who might not feel seen, know that they belong despite the norms of the ballet world.

Do you prefer modern or classical ballet?

I prefer classical ballet over modern. For me it is all about the movement and intent. I love the way the classical ballet has to be strong yet soft and no matter how small the detail is, it can make or break a performance. You have to fully immerse yourself in your dancing and that is what makes ballet so fun.

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