Ridgefield School of Dance salutes three graduates

As summer winds down, three local young women are packing for college and looking forward to starting a new chapter while looking back on many fond memories as dancers at the Ridgefield School of Dance.

Likely chief among their remembrances will be their farewell performance in June as company members at the dance studio. Eugenia “Emma” Cashman and Julia Garrett, both of Ridgefield; along with Kyra Winslow from Weston danced in the school’s spring show, which featured Alice in Wonderland, Act III of The Sleeping Beauty Ballet and “High Gear,” a presentation by the Jazz Department. The three were spot-on during their performances but emotions ran a bit high between the first and second acts when the three were presented with necklaces by studio owner Alison Brown, an annual tradition signifying their transition from students to alumni and congratulated by their instructors.

All three ballerinas have been dancing their entire lives, but met at the Ridgefield School of Dance. All agree that dance is a joyful pursuit and they enjoy its expressive nature, which ranges from effervescent to serious, and highly recommend dance for young and future ballerinas.

“It is always a wistful time wishing our wonderful dancers well as they move on to the next phase of their lives,” says Brown, who is marking her fifth anniversary as owner. “We are so proud of them as all three were accepted into their first choice schools. This year they span the continent so I feel we will be well represented from the East to the West Coast.”

Eugenia Cashman will be heading to the University of Southern California, Julia heads south to Tulane University in New Orleans, and Kyra will be going to Elon University in North Carolina. All expect to include dance as a continuing part of their post-Ridgefield education.

Passionate about dance, each say the discipline of dance training has not only made them better dancers but helped them with studying, time management and in other areas of their lives. The proof is in the pudding as all three were honor roll students and have experienced a rich schedule of extracurricular activities. Julia says ballet is much harder than it is made out to be and has taught her much.

“Ballet has definitely pushed me to work hard, and has taught me that nothing comes easy without dedication and hard work,” she said. “I have become more confident in my abilities, and have been very fortunate to take on roles that have allowed me to push myself.”

Kyra said working hard at dance has helped her not only in her high school classes but has given her the self-motivation to pursue her dreams. “You are very motivated to get what you want, it comes with getting better [as a dancer]. It isn’t something someone can make you do. It comes from within yourself, so that I have been able to apply to many different aspects of my life.

“The Ridgefield School of Dance really stood out to me because it was a group of girls who were simply so passionate about dance and the relationships that could unfold,” Eugenia said. She added that “the studio has truly helped me to better my technique and artistry in every way.”

Julia and Kyra have been dedicated members of the ballet and jazz programs at the studio and each has served a year as company president. They have also both worked with the next generation of dancers as teacher’s assistants and found the experience both challenging and gratifying. Both agree it was a valuable experience allowing them to create bonds with younger dancers, and helped them with leadership experience.

Kyra’s favorite part of dance has been starting to choreograph her own dances as a wonderful opportunity and learning experience.

“I love the finished product and how much work and effort goes into it and then you get to see your final creation at the end — on stage.”

For more information, theridgefieldschoolofdance.com or 203-894-5957