Amazing performer, well-rounded, extremely talented, and beautiful are just some of the ways senior Sophia Mazich is described by her dance instructor.
Primarily trained in ballet, contemporary, and jazz, Mazich began dancing when she was two years old. But for the past four years, Mazich has been taught by instructor Alicia Cutaia at Eisenhower Dance Center in both Birmingham and Rochester.
“I started dancing in Chicago but my dad’s job has moved us to a multitude of different states,” Mazich said. “We lived in Delaware for ten years and I danced at Delaware Dance Company as a part of their Performing Company.”
In 2010, Mazich and her family moved to Michigan, where she joined Eisenhower Dance Center’s senior student company, Center Dance Ensemble. Eisenhower Dance Center is a professional, national touring dance company.
According to their website, Eisenhower Dance Center is “Michigan’s premiere contemporary dance company.”
Mazich dances at both Rochester and Birmingham studios. The Rochester studio is home to the senior student company along with the professional company.
“The professional dancers of the company are my dance instructors,” Mazich said. “It’s such an incredible experience to have professional dancers as mentors. They’re extremely knowledgeable in dance and they are a true inspiration to me.”
Mazich dances every day after school, typically three to four hours a day. She also has ballet classes on Saturday mornings.
“Sundays I usually have private lessons and every other Friday and Sunday I have a workshop class that specializes on one aspect of technique or to rehearse my solos,” Mazich said. “Each week I take four to five ballet and pointe classes, jazz, contemporary, partnering and variations, and rehearsals for performances along with any private lessons I have scheduled for the week.”
As dance takes up a majority of her time, Mazich admitted that sometimes it can be difficult to balance with a rigorous school schedule including AP classes.
“I don’t get very much sleep but I have an amazing family that supports me completely,” Mazich said. “I usually give up a lot of social time for dance but it’s something that I’m used to after doing this for so long.”
Although she may give up a vast majority of her free time, Mazich believes it is well worth it.
“I’ve learned that I have to prioritize and that dance comes before catching a movie or shopping with friends,” Mazich said.
Her love of dance has been incentive enough for her to volunteer as a ballet teacher.
“Along with my schedule for my own technique classes, I assistant teach ballet 2 on Tuesdays,” Mazich said. “I volunteer at the studio and I love teaching because the girls remind me of me when I was their age.”
Along with her teaching abilities, Mazich serves as a demonstrator for Cutaia, who is also the senior company member and rehearsal director of Eisenhower Dance Center. Mazich spent all summer demonstrating at various studios in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
“She’s my demonstrator when I go teach masters classes,” Cutaia said. “I always bring her with me to all my master’s classes and choreography. She’s my personal assistant when it comes to demonstrating movement.”
Cutaia believes Mazich is very well-rounded, and excels at all her classes.
“She takes ballet, modern, jazz, and then whatever else you throw at her, she excels,” Cutaia said.“She’s also a very high jumper.”
Ballet differs from typical high school sports in the sense that there are not designated seasons for it. On the contrary, Mazich seldom gets a break.
“I have my night and weekend classes while we are in school,” Mazich said. “During the summer, I am required to continue my training but I travel to different summer intensives offered by various schools.”
These programs can last anywhere from one to six weeks. Most require an audition to be accepted to the program.
“I have been accepted to the Joffrey Ballet School Summer Intensive, American Ballet Theater Summer Intensive, Maryland Ballet Theater Summer Intensive on full six week scholarship, Virginia School of the Arts Summer Intensive, and the Rock School of Ballet Summer Intensive,” Mazich said. “My summers are always full of dance and it’s a wonderful time to work on my technique and grow as an artist.”
Mazich hopes to continue her dancing career throughout college, and plans to double major in dance and either math or science.
The ballet audition process necessary for collegiate dance programs greatly differs from the standard college admissions process. While most students send in an application and wait to hear from universities, Mazich must send in an application and then register for the school’s ballet audition.
“This gives me the opportunity to dance in front of the head of the dance department at colleges and meet the professors of the dance program,” Mazich said. “On the other hand, it can be extremely nerve-wracking to have a live performance knowing it is a college audition.”
These auditions can vary. For some, you attend a ballet class with the current students to see how well you would be placed. For others, it is an all-day commitment including ballet class, modern class, rehearsal observation, and a solo performance that has been prepared.
Mazich has auditioned at Loyola University Chicago and Grand Valley State University, received scholarships to both, and was also accepted to both as a dance major.
Along with auditions, Mazich also recently attended the Oakland Dance Festival, where she auditioned on stage in front of numerous college representatives for approximately three hours and then performed solos. She was accepted to Western Michigan’s Dance Program and Wayne State University, both with a scholarship.
With so many achievements, it’s amazing how humble Mazich remains.
“I’m very blessed to have been given these opportunities,” Mazich said. “I’m extremely grateful to both my parents and my dance teachers for always being there for me when I need them.”
Cutaia is certain the future is bright for Mazich.
“I think if she keeps training the way that she is, she’s really ready to do whatever she wants to do,” Cutaia said. “I can see her going very far with the way her work ethic and dedication are.”
With devoting so many hours to dance, one would find it difficult to stay motivated, yet Mazich remains motivated solely by her deep love of dance.
“I have an enormous passion for it, it’s my way of communication,” Mazich said. “Dance is what keeps me motivated with everything else in my life. It has taught me to prioritize and time management.”
Mazich’s dedication is evident through both her scholastic and dancing efforts.
“For me, it’s motivating to get homework complete so I can go to ballet class,” Mazich said. “I honestly cannot imagine my life without dance. It’s simply become a part of who I am.”