Many little girls dream of becoming a dancer and often start dancing at a young age. That’s the path 18-year-old Emma Olson took when she started dancing at the age of two. But unlike many kids who eventually move on to other activities, Olson continued to stick with it, and the payoff has been 16 years of success both on and off the stage.
Edge: What types of dance have you studied over the years?
Emma: I’ve done ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap, hip hop, and lyrical.
Edge: Do you have a favorite?
Emma: Contemporary is my favorite because it’s ballet based but more movement rather than technique, and it’s what I did for my solos, which are my favorite too.
Edge: What are some of the accomplishments you’ve earned?
Emma: My freshman year I won first place at nationals—it was the best I’ve ever danced! I also won Excellence in Technique and Showmanship, all for contemporary dance. I was also on my high school dance team (at Skutt Catholic High School) and we won state every year, usually got first or second place at regionals, and this year we placed eighth at nationals. We did jazz and hip hop for school, so it’s fun doing different things.
Edge: What is the most challenging aspect of dance?
Emma: Not getting certain moves right away, that’s always frustrating.
Edge: What’s the most rewarding?
Emma: Knowing I did my best during a performance, and then being rewarded for it.
Edge: What has dance taught you?
Emma: It taught me discipline, self-confidence, and focus, as well as determination and not giving up when something doesn’t go right the first time. It also taught me social skills. I would travel all over the country going to dance conventions and didn’t know anyone, so I had to make friends there.
Laura Olson (Emma’s mother): She is very outgoing and can walk out of anywhere and immediately have 20 friends.
Emma: I used to be really quiet and shy!
Laura: She also has really good time management. She’d train 4-5 days a week, 5-6 hours per night through high school and still have to keep her grades up.
Emma: Learning time management will be a big help for college, especially if I decide to go to med school. It will also help with my confidence for job interviews.
Edge: Do you plan to continue dancing while in college?
Emma: I’d like to take some classes for fun and maybe help teach. I’ve taught younger kids and helped people with their solos.
Edge: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not dancing?
Emma: I like to take art classes: painting, drawing, and pottery. I’m also going to be taking a music class as part of my honors program in college at UNL.
Edge: How would you describe yourself?
Emma: I’m happy. I like to laugh a lot and can make friends with anyone.