Sophomore aspires to turn passion into career
Beginning dance at three years old, Caleigh Alday spends 30 plus hours every week perfecting her craft. She won her third Most Inspirational Dancer at the Thunderstruck Dance Competition with a performance that left some in the audience in tears.
Alday’s goal is to be accepted into the dance team at whatever college she goes to, but specifically hopes to join Fresno State’s team. After college, Alday hopes to become a backup dancer or a choreographer.
“In whatever college I get accepted into I’m going to try out for their dance team,” Alday said. “I’d love to be apart of Fresno State’s dance team. If I continue putting my name out there for dance I’d love to maybe see myself try out to be a backup dancer one day or choreographer.”
Through her journey of learning dance, Alday has met her closest friends which she has bonded with over the years at the dance studio.
“At dance I can be myself and I actually love having real friends which I have bonded with over my lifetime at dance,” Alday said. “One of my most special moments was winning nationals last year, one of my group routines placed No. 1 in the nation! It was the best feeling because we had only put it together last minute, with only one to two weeks to learn it.”
FCS cheerleader coach Hope Villines has coached Alday for five years out of the nine years she’s known her. Villines shares she see’s her as an encourager, hard worker and a competitor.
“Caleigh is very driven to always be better or improve at anything and everything she does,” Villines said. “Whether it be as a student, a friend, a teammate, a daughter, a dancer, or a cheerleader. Caleigh has and always will improve year over year; Caleigh is a true joy and blessing to FCS!”
After not attending preschool, Alday was nervous to meet new people and get out of her comfort zone by signing up for dance.
“I had not been in preschool before I started kindergarten when I was three years old,” Alday said. “Dance brought me an opportunity to stretch myself outside my comfort zone and it is my biggest escape. It has really shaped me into who I am.”
Alday credits her mom for getting her invested in dancing by signing her up at a young age.
“My first memory of dance I have is my mom signing me up and I met a lot of my closest friends and are my friends now and still dance with them,” Alday continued. “I met my best friend through it and we have been inseparable since. So that was one of the very first memories I had going into dance because I was really nervous.”
Instructors have played a role in Alday’s experience with dance. One of her role models today is teacher Jenny Cornelison, who has helped her improve her abilities.
“The people I looked up to now and even in the past were my dance teachers,” Alday said. “Dance teachers come and go from studio to studio, but some stay with the studio for a long time, and one that has really been my role model is Jenny Cornelison.”
Cornelison has been dancing since age three–over 44 years. She started her dance career because she begged my mother and made her search the phone book until she found a studio that would take her. Today, Cornelison has been teaching at Clovis Academy since she was 16-years-old–her first job!
“When I watch Caleigh dance, I see her heart,” Cornelison said. “She dances from the inside out and is an inspiration to others. My favorite part of us in the dance room has been getting to know her; the real ‘you’ through the years. I’ve enjoyed watching Caleigh grow not only as a dancer, but as a beautiful person. One of my favorite things about Caleigh on stage is her sparkle and shine. She dances from a special place inside and it shines out for all to see. It’s a blessing and I’m so proud of everything Caleigh is becoming.”
In the following podcast, Kyler Garza interviews Caleigh Alday on her dance experience.
Cornelison impacts the way Alday performs at competitions through criticism during her practices.
“She’s my coach now and she has been and probably will still be the main focus for my dance; she has the best criticism a dancer can receive,” Alday continued. “She is very influential and she can make you laugh, but there’s also a time when we really need to get our work done and it really inspires me to keep dancing.”
A memorable experience came to Alday last year when competing in Los Angeles at the Revolution Dance Company. Her and her team swept the competition with their routines they practiced.
“My favorite experience I had was last year when we were in Los Angeles and it was the Revolution Dance Company,” Alday said. “When we were there they had this big nationals event. When we won the routine then we went back to the second round and we competed with the best of the best. We got the highest scores in the competition and we won the entire thing. That was my favorite experience so far within the year.”
Dance has offered Alday several opportunities, like the chance to go to a ballet school in New York, and one in Chicago called Joffery’s School of Dance.
“A few years ago I got accepted into two ballet schools up in New York and I had one in Chicago which was Joffery School of Dance,” Alday said. “I’ve been really enjoying the opportunities that I’m seeing; and I hope to keep improving.”
Kyler Garza can be reached via email.
Slideshow below includes images of Caleigh Alday dancing throughout the years.
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