Ashley Burk is an Arizona State University student majoring in Dance Education. In the future, Burk aspires to become a professional dancer as well as a dance teacher. Ashley is also a member of the ASU Dancing Devils. In My Shoes took an inside look at Ashley's inspiration and future goals.
Photo: Kathy Cole
How long have you been dancing?
I have been dancing for about 15 years now! I started dancing when I was five years old.
What got you into dancing?
I was always dancing around when I was a little girl everywhere I went. After years of me dancing around at my house my mom signed me up for dance class! My mom also signed me up for dance so that I could get used to being around little girls since I grew up with all boy cousins and a brother.
Do you have any dancer role models?
When I was dancing at Ballet Arizona when I was younger I always admired one of the girls in the professional company named Ginger Smith. I was obsessed with her and thought she was the prettiest dancer of all time. I even got her to sign one of her old Pointe shoes for me after a concert one year and I still have that shoe at my house. At the time my dream was to be a professional ballerina, and I always wanted to dance like her.
Photo: Laurel Fink
What was the best routine you ever performed, in your opinion?
That is a really tough question since I loved pretty much all of the dances I've been in, especially in high school. I'd have to say the best one would have to be when I was at Deer Valley High School, my Performance Dance class did group jazz routine to "Raining Men". That dance was so much fun and had so much energy. Everyone was together and did so good! I still have it on video and watch it every now and then. I can remember how much fun that dance was everytime we performed it in a concert, It is definitely one dance I will never forget. Other than that, there were some small group lyrical dances at Deer Valley I also loved being in. In one of them I had to balance on the edge of a couch on one leg in an arabesque which was a little scary, but the dance looked really good and there were only 3 of us in it.
So you are a dancing devil at ASU! Tell us about it.
I love being on the Dancing Devils team! Dancing Devils is a dance team that is also a club team at Arizona State University through the Student Recreation Center. It is a jazz dance team, all about performing and there are also some dance competitions involved. We practice on mondays and wednesdays from 7:30 to 10:30pm every week. We perform mainly at ASU sporting events and other events on the campus. This year we have performed at a men's basketball game, a rowing tournament, and several Rugby games. We have also performed at Oktoberfest when it was at Tempe Beach Park, and we have performed at a Harkins Theatre for the premiere of Pina Bausch's documentary film, and at Tempe Marketplace to advertise footloose coming out on DVD. We also participate in different community service events like certain walks that happen around ASU. We are supposed to perform at the Special Olympics this year as well. Basically, if we get invited to perform somewhere, we most likely will do it. We usually get e-mails from different club teams at ASU or other venues outside of ASU.
ASU Dancing Devils, Photo: Joey Colletti
What is the hardest thing about being a dancer?
I'd say the hardest thing about being a dancer is that it takes a lot of dedication and a lot of your time. I always have to try my hardest in ever practice and performance and it is physically very tiring. I am also a Dance Education Major at ASU, so I am dancing every day of the week for the most part. I am involved with the Dancing Devils, as well as required dance classes I take daily, and shows I am in with the Herberger institute. I am constantly on the go and dancing dancing dancing. I am sore often and usually don't get enough sleep, so that is difficult, but it is all worth it because I love dancing so much and once I perform it all pays off.
What is your favorite style of dance to perform or watch?
This is another hard question! I love all styles of dance, but my favorite is probably Jazz. I feel like it is my strong suit and it is always really fun to do. It always catches my attention right away and I love the way it looks and feels. Jazz can be so many different things, it can be sassy, cute, edgy, technical, full of style, etc. I feel like out of all styles of dance I have the most fun doing Jazz and I can really entertain people. My second favorite is classical ballet. Ballet is very nostalgic for me because I started taking ballet when I was 5 at Ballet Arizona and have done ballet my whole life ever since. I was in the Nutcracker for two years while I was at Ballet Arizona and I still go to see the nutcracker every year. In my opinion, ballet is the most difficult dance form to do, especially pointe work. I admire anyone who is a ballerina because it takes a lot of skill and hard work to pull of what they do, and they always look so beautiful.
What do you plan on doing in the future with your dance degree?
I plan on eventually becoming a dance teacher at a high school or at a dance studio. Dance is my absolute passion and I love to help others learn how to dance and encourage them to do what they love and always get better. Before I teach though I would love to become a professional dancer. After I graduate from ASU with my degree I want to audition for anything I can and try to dance professionally for a while. After that I would love to be a dance teacher. Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to be a dance teacher or a professional dancer. I am extremely excited that I am actually making it happen now and I hope I become successful in my dance career.