With Daylight Saving Time upon us again, some may feel as if their days are getting shorter. But for three Camas High teens who are preparing for upcoming performance in The Portland Ballet’s holiday performances of “The Enchanted Toyshop” and “Tourbillion,” while trying to balance school work, extracurricular activities and dance rehearsals, the days have likely never felt longer.
“The Portland Ballet is super nice with us and they’re OK with us doing as many classes as we can with our schedule,” says Tyler Stanley, 14, a Camas High freshman who is, along with his twin brother, Joey Stanley, performing the role of Pinocchio for the Portland Ballet. “We miss a little bit of ballet, and we miss a little bit of soccer, and so we are able to do both, which is awesome because they’re both super fun.
The twins aren’t the only local ballet dancers practicing day and night for upcoming Portland Ballet performances. Maegan Randolph, 16, a Camas High sophomore, will dance in both “The Enchanted Toy Shop” and “Tourbillion.”
In addition to her dancing, Randolph, like the twins, has a full schedule that includes keeping her grades up and playing in the Camas High band. “It’s difficult, but I’m doing my best,” she says, adding that, although time-consuming, being a part of her high school band is “100 percent worth it.” Randolph says her parents and two brothers support her busy schedule and are always excited to watch her dance.
Both Tyler and Joey attend the Portland Ballet and play soccer for the Washington Timbers team.
Joey said that their parents are really supportive of everything the twins want to do, and that their parents never hesitate to drive the boys to rehearsals in Portland three times a week.
“It’s awesome because it’s about a 35 to 40-minute drive. I couldn’t do it without them,” Joey says, adding that the long car rides give him a chance to focus on his school work.
Want to see the Camas High students dance with the Portland Ballet? The performances take place this weekend, Friday through Sunday, Nov. 24-26, at Portland State University’s Lincoln Performance Hall. Following is more information about each of the young dancers:
Randolph began dancing ballet when she was five years old. Over time, it has easily become her main hobby, she says.
“I think I’ve been doing it for so long that it would be hard to imagine what my life would look like without dance every day of the week,” Randolph says.
She began her dance career at the Evergreen Dance Academy, and decided to make the move to the Portland Ballet in September of 2016.
“The teachers at the Portland Ballet are very much different than at Evergreen,” Randolph says. “They really push you, but they make it seem like you always have more. It’s a very positive atmosphere.”
The thought of dancing for the Portland Ballet entered Randolph’s mind when she was in the sixth grade and participated in a summer intensive at the studio.
One of the main skills Randolph has learned since joining is teamwork, she says. She went from having a ballet class of about 10 girls at Evergreen to nearly 20 at the Portland Ballet.
“Learning choreography is a very rigorous process, and when you’re working with a large group of people it can be very difficult to get it right that first or second time, and sometimes you don’t, and the third time will be a charm,” she says.”
Randolph adds that one of her favorite parts of dancing with the studio is that the supportive environment.
“It’s a really good time when we’re in the studio, (the support) makes dance more fun,” she explains..
Randolph’s advice to other young dancers who have thought about joining the Portland Ballet is to take a leap of faith and go for it.
“I made the mistake of waiting three years to go to the Portland Ballet as a student,” she says. “Ballet is something you really do have to work at your entire life, and to get a lead you really have to take big steps rather than small ones.”
For her future, Randolph says she hopes that dancing with the Portland Ballet leads her in the right direction because dancing as a professional is a childhood dream of hers that she’s held onto for a long time.
Ten years ago, Tyler Stanley and his twin brother, Joey, began their ballet careers at the Astoria School of Ballet.
Tyler says that ballet is a really fun way to consistently challenge and improve yourself.
The twins began dancing at the Portland Ballet three years ago, and the upcoming show will be their first holiday performance.
“At the Portland Ballet, I think the teachers are really good at keeping you in check, and keeping you going in dance by allowing you to push yourself,” Tyler says.
The challenge of ballet is a positive aspect, Tyler adds.
He says the men’s class he attends is really enjoyable because it allows him the opportunity to get to know the other dancers.
Tyler says he became interested in the Portland Ballet because of the men’s class, but doesn’t really have a favorite aspect of being a part of the studio.
“It’s really everything — the teachers, the other students, the shows. It’s all really fun,” he says.
Tyler has participated in the Portland Ballet’s spring showcases, and says each show creates a new and fun memory.
“The stress is a really good bond between all of us,” he says. “You get to know your teachers and everyone you dance with better.”
Tyler adds that he enjoys dancing with his twin brother, Joey, because they get to practice with each other and critique one another.
“It’s always fun to succeed together,” Tyler says.
If there is one thing ballet has taught him, Tyler says, it’s how to keep trying.
“It’s hard, ballet is hard, and I think doing it for a long time allows you to be persistent — some steps are really difficult, but once you get it, it becomes really fun — and getting to perform it is just taking it to the next level,” he says.
Joey Stanley describes dancing with the Portland Ballet as “awesome.”
“Everyone at the Portland Ballet is just the nicest. I can’t think of anyone who has any bad aspects to them, and I love that about people,” he says.
Joey’s love for ballet stems from the focus and hard work that it takes to do things right, and he says he loves having to push himself to get it all done.
At the Portland Ballet, Joey values the Tuesday night men’s class, where it’s just the boys who practice together and work on their jumps and turns.
“We spend a lot of time on specific stuff that is more boy-oriented,” Joey explains. “I just really like that class because it’s more oriented to me.”
Joey says he’d recommend that other dancers join the Portland Ballet because the people at the school are encouraging, and you have the option to be on the career track if you want to go professional, or the option to keep ballet as just a hobby.
Joey would like to keep dancing ballet as long as he can, but says that, career-wise, he aspires to become an engineer, possibly a bioengineer.