Nina O’Brien is a dance teacher at Myriad Music School and Dance Academy. She teaches a variety of classes that focus on different dance styles to children. She has danced and participated in multiple competitions throughout her childhood and now she will be a judge in the Asian Youth Talent Competition. Nina loves to focus on the creativity behind dance and believes that expressing your emotions and passion for dance is just as important as the technique.
How did you get involved with the Myriad School?
“I got involved with the Myriad Music and Dance School through one of the other instructors there, she introduced me to Ms. Simone Bley and I started about three years ago. I came in fresh out of college and I did this extensive interview process that started over the phone. When I first started, I did a mock class to pretend I was teaching a full class of students.”
How is the Myriad School different from other schools that teach the arts?
“I think that Myriad Music School and Dance Academy is different because we strive on the idea of child development and growth. At different stages of a child’s development, there are different ways to teach them. We try to create an environment where children can express themselves and learn creatively and safely. I love to focus on creation and I think that the classes at Myriad can do that. The teachers inspire children to critically think for themselves, whether that’s piano, voice, or dance. It’s not just about the technique, it’s beyond that, it’s definitely a growing experience and a family environment.”
What styles of dance do you teach?
At Myriad Music and Dance, I teach jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop, and some combination classes. I teach creative movement as well such as giving a different score for the children and letting them express themselves in their own way.”
How did you get involved with dance, specifically?
“When I was young, about four years old, I started taking some classes through camps and I began cheer-leading. I didn’t really enjoy all of the stunting and tumbling but I really loved the dance. My first dance class was break-dancing and from there I moved onto hip hop and I gradually moved into the more technical styles of dance like ballet, modern dance, and jazz.”
How did growing up as a participant in competitions affect you?
“I think it’s affected me by teaching me to shine and to be a leader. I think stepping up on the stage, under the lights, and in front of the judges really taught me how to become the leader that I am today. It’s also taught me to understand what someone is looking for a little better. I love the spirit of a healthy competition where we are surrounded by people from all over the state or country and we get to meet these beautiful people and share our passions with each other.”
How big of a role did the judges play in the competition?
“I think that they are a critical role and after my first experience with judges, I was really scared to know what they were thinking about. After our competitions were done, we’d receive a scoresheet with notes, telling us how we could be better and what would help us stand out a little bit more. That really helped us to know what the judges are looking for and what we could improve at from one competition to another.”
As a judge, what are you looking for?
“I’m looking for the creative side of things. I’ve seen so many productions where technique is the main focus. Technique is great, it’s the basis where most of us come from, but I want to see something new. Where a contestant can show me that it is truly their passion and not something that someone told them to do, that they really love it and that they have created something from within themselves.”
Interviewed by Sarah Zhou, a Mills High School student.
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