“Being a dancer is not something you plan on,” says Rebecca Wexler, currently a senior. School is a place for learning and friends, but so many of our peers partake in interesting activities outside of SAAS. For Rebecca Wexler, currently a senior, there is much more to life than school. On weekdays, Rebecca spends about three and a half hours dancing after school and another five hours on the weekends, when she doesn’t have rehearsals. When she does have rehearsals, Rebecca is at the studio from 9-6 on Saturdays, with another six hours on Sunday. Like most young girls, Rebecca’s parents encouraged her pursuit of ballet from a young age. So she started at a tiny studio at her house, where her passion for dance began to grow. After a year, Rebecca and her mother went to see the Nutcracker, and she loved it. She was so enthralled with the stage that she stayed in her seat through intermission. Soon enough Rebecca was enrolled in Pacific Northwest Ballet, the top dance program in Seattle, where she has danced for most of her life. “I take modern and ballet there, and the two dances go hand in hand. It’s choreographed by the teachers, and it’s very classical ballet, with tutus,” says Rebecca. “But we also do contemporary ballet without buns and with long skirts. I do ballet more than modern. We only have one modern class a week, but a lot of are dances are more focused towards modern because that’s the kind of style we work on.”
When she was 15, Rebecca was given an offer from the Joffrey Ballet School to move to New York and study dance there. At the time she passed up on the offer, “because I was so young,” Rebecca recalls. During her senior year, Melanie Reed gave her a list of schools with great dance programs. So Rebecca went to New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle to audition for college dance programs. But soon she realized that she hadn’t auditioned for any summer dance intensives. An intensive is a super intense, seven-eight week program during the summer. So Rebecca auditioned for a Joffrey summer program, which is generally super expensive, and she didn’t plan on going, even if she got in. But Rebecca was accepted with a fifty percent scholarship, which was followed by a letter in the mail, offering Rebecca a spot at the year-long training program, the same one she was offered when she was fifteen.
When Rebecca was younger, she also participated in gymnastics and swimming, both of which she excelled at. When she was eleven, Rebecca had to pick between the swim team and ballet, and she chose dance. Rebecca also does a lot of visual art, and recently she has had some offers on her pieces. She wants to focus most of her time and studies on ballet and sociology, and while she thinks she will always participate in visual art, “I don’t think it will ever be my career.”
“Sociology is something I’m passionate about,” says Rebecca. “I volunteer a lot, and I belong to a charity group called NCL.” The National Charity League is a mother-daughter organization that encourages community service work all over the country. Additionally, Rebecca is focusing her senior project on psychology. In the beginning, Rebecca was interested in “The Prison Project,” where she would help teach dance to prison inmates. This project would have been a way to incorporate sociology and dance, but that idea ended up falling through. So instead, she is going to work at the Jubilee Women’s Center, a shelter for women to help them get back on their feet.
At the end of the school year Rebecca will be taking off for eight weeks. After her summer intensive, she has a month before she goes back to Joffrey for her year-long training program. Rebecca’s day will start at eight in the morning, and she’ll be taking classes until six at night. Along with dancing, she’ll be taking classes such as nutrition and dance history, which will eventually count as college credits.
Right now, Rebecca is interested in four different arts colleges: Cornish, Columbia College of the Arts, Old Dominion, and Marymount. She plans on double majoring in dance as well as sociology. She is passionate about both and very realistic about dance as a career. “Dancing doesn’t last forever” says Rebecca. “An average dancer’s career ends around 35, and they probably aren’t at a place where they can retire.” With a major in dance, Rebecca can also choose to become a choreographer, a dance history teacher, or even a dance teacher. No matter what, Rebecca will be able to incorporate what she loves into the career that she chooses to pursue.