Ridgefield School of Dance celebrates its 2021 graduates

RIDGEFIELD — Five seniors recently gave their farewell performance with The Ridgefield School of Dance on May 21 at the Klein Auditorium in Bridgeport, performing “Four Seasons” and “Exhale.” Ridgefield High School’s Makena Davi, Ariana Mirfakhraie and Alexandra Westrick were joined by Rebecca Ronai, of Weston, and Alexandra Magnusson, of Wilton, as part of this year’s graduating class.

These talented artists have spent a good portion of their lives in ballet slippers and/or jazz shoes in the studio at 66 Grove Street. With so many years of experiences among them, each dancer has a favorite ballet, part, memory and lesson learned, and each has had a busy life outside the school with other pursuits.

Davi performed in at least 13 performances of “The Nutcracker” and another 14 ballets, including “Alice in Wonderland,” “Madeline,” “Coppelia,” “Carnival of the Animals” and “Cinderella.” She loves dancing in large ensembles such as “Waltz of the Snowflakes” in “The Nutcracker,” and was thrilled to dance the part of Dew Drop in 2019.

Davi was a class assistant for several years and loved watching the younger dancers learn and grow. In addition to taking ballet at least four days a week, she participated in the RHS music program and was a junior volunteer in the Milford Hospital Emergency Room. She will study at the University of Florida and plans to pursue medical school.

Mirfakhraie played violin with the RHS Symphonic Orchestra and plans on studying at the University of Vienna in Austria. Her favorite ballet was “Paquita” and her favorite part was portraying the Emerald Fairy in “Sleeping Beauty.” Although the role was challenging, she said it pushed her as a dancer.

In addition to ballet, Mirfakhraie was a member of the school’s jazz company and performed in “Exhale,” the department’s contribution to this season’s year-end festivities.

Westrick joined RSD in sixth grade. She has loved all of her dance experiences and especially enjoyed learning new material and expressing different emotions through choreography. Dance has taught her the joy of releasing the stresses of everyday life.

When she wasn’t in the studio, Westrick was involved with the RHS cheer team and ASP. This fall, she will be attending the University of Tennessee where she will study nursing.

Starting ballet at 3-years-old, Magnusson has applied the precise understanding of movement and coordination from ballet to her passions for horseback riding and skiing. Magnusson also participated in the National Honor Society, balancing her participation in the school with academics.

“Madeline” was her most beloved performance, which included a large cast, many props and a charming story. Her favorite role was portraying Russian in “The Nutcracker.”

Dancing with others has reinforced in Magnusson the value of making and honoring a commitment. She is headed to Boston College to pursue STEM-related studies and intends to continue with dance.

Ronai also started dancing at the age of 3 and joined RSD at 8. Her favorite ballet is “Cinderella” and her favorite part was portraying the White Cat in “Sleeping Beauty.”

Ronai gained confidence by performing in front of others, which served her well in her role as vice president of the Weston High School debate team. She was also her graduating class’s salutatorian, co-captain of CT State Champion Mock Trial and a member of Circle of Friends. She will attend Dartmouth University in the fall.

This past year, all five students shared their appreciation for having a place to go and express themselves emotionally and artistically.

“Dance was one of the things that helped (us) get through COVID-19 because, despite the pandemic, it still continued,” Ronai said. “Especially in the fall when most things were shut down or online, I loved being able to go to the studio every day and be with my friends.”

“These dancers have been an integral part of the Ridgefield School of Dance family for a huge part of their lives,” said RSD Executive Director Alison Brown. “I cannot tell you how much I have appreciated their commitment to dance, each other, and the school.”

Artistic Director Jessica Boelts has been teaching these young women since they joined RSD. “I have truly enjoyed watching these dancers grow up,” she said. “I’ll miss them, but look forward to seeing what their future holds.”

For more information visit www.theridgefieldschoolofdance.com or call 203-894-5957.