Growing Up in the Studio: A Glimpse into a Multifaceted Dancer’s Lifestyle

A ballerina gracefully balances on one foot, as the spotlight accentuates her muscles. Illustration by Folkculture

Along a shiny rectangular mirror in the dance studio, ballet dancers gracefully plié up and down while grasping onto a metal bar with one hand. Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” softly hummed in the background.

After five minutes, the instructor then serenely told the dancers to pirouette and chassé across the sleek hardwood floor. One by one, each dancer elegantly glided and spun, almost as if they were tiptoeing on water. The instructor clapped to the tempo while maintaining her soothing tone.

Polished in hot pink from head to toe, a young ballet dancer relished every challenge. As she twirled, her pink tutu appeared to morph her into a blooming rose. She had a warm, friendly smile. Behind her friendly aura is an unapologetically sassy and confident girl. Justine Marquez lived the dream embracing what she treasured most. Her immense zest for dance urged her to transition to different genres including jazz, tap, cheerleading and gymnastics. At the age of 7 she became a competitive dancer, aligning with her bubbly personality. In a heartbeat she knew that she wanted to blend her dancing lifestyle with another long-lived passion of hers’ — journalism.

Remarkably, Justine is quadrilingual. She has mastered English, Spanish, Korean, and is still studying Japanese. Globally known to be one of the most intricate languages, Justine states, “There are three languages in the Japanese language and one of them has more than 3000 characters called kanji, so to this day I’m still studying new ones. It’s also extremely difficult because it’s so different from English, the grammar is confusing even for simple sentences.” She further added that self-studying methods including podcasts, textbooks, and even music guided her to where she stands unfazed. Her older sister’s digestion of the Japanese language has aided her greatly, as she currently lives in Japan.

As a journalist major, Justine views the comprehension of multiple languages as an instrumental tool. She continues to paint her dream job.

“I’d like to become an entertainment reporter one day and I’d easily be able to interview and translate artists from Japan and South Korea. It’s like combining my love for writing and journalism, with my love for the Japanese and Korean entertainment industries.”

Enamored by K-pop’s legendary singers including Stray Kids, Sunmi, and Chungha, Justine envisions her dream of becoming a back-up dancer. She admires their dynamic choreographies and hopes to have the honor to be a part of their team.

Serving as a dance instructor for younger generations fulfills her overflowing fervor for dance. She says, “I’d like to teach more intermediate dance classes too, I think it’s a really fun age group to work with and it’s not too easy, but also not too technical for their age group.”

Justine revealed another unique characteristic about herself. Ever since she was 3, she firmly stood to the belief that she will be a vegetarian for the rest of her life. She states, “It was kind of a decision I made on my own as a kid because I think meat tastes really gross. I also don’t want to support the meat industry because I think it’s really cruel.” Justine was not forced in any way to implement her vegetarian lifestyle as a facet of a family custom. She added that the tastiest vegetarian meal is cheese pizza as she considers it her best friend.

With 15 years of dance implemented into her muscle memory, she affirms that she can never forget her roots that sculpted her since day one. “I’m not self-taught, they taught me everything I know! And I’m really grateful to all of my teachers there, I grew up in the studio and would not be the dancer or person I am today without all of their help!”

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
The Siguenza Vault

I am a sophomore currently attending CSUF. I strive to become a culture or political journalist for the Washington Post or The New York Times.