Senior Haley Stewart lives for dance. She has since the time she set foot on Miller Marley’s stage at her first recital in her big puffy, pink tu-tu and slippers when she was five and completely messed up the routine.
“I was the most awkward girl up there,” Stewart said. “I don’t think I even got one move right.”
Stewart kept dancing though. It became an outlet from her home life throughout elementary school up until high school. Whenever there was tension at home between her and her family, Stewart could go to dance and temporarily escape from it all.
Her mom, Mindy Stewart, a strong supporter of her throughout her years of dancing, always saw something special in the way Stewart connected with the audience through her dance. Stewart would portray a character in a certain story in her performances. One performance that stuck out to Mindy was one in which Stewart played a newlywed woman who discovers she is diagnosed with cancer.
“It’s beautiful watching her dance and seeing the emotion she puts into each character she plays,” Mindy said. “It touches my heart seeing that passion she displays on stage.”
By sixth grade, Stewart carried her passion with her and knew she wanted to pursue dance for the rest of her life. She would spend three hours a night at Miller Marley, perfecting her routines and rehearsing for recitals – dance had become her life. She tried other sports: swimming, diving, basketball, soccer, volleyball, golf and tennis, but Stewart always stuck with dance.
“It was that one thing that allowed me to express myself,” Stewart said. “In every dance I really have to put myself into it so I can’t think about what’s going on in my life while I’m dancing.”
It only made sense to her, in the midst of her senior year, for Stewart to decide to study dance in college.
She had known for years it was something she wanted to do. She applied to California Institute of the Art (CIA) located in Valencia, CA. Stewart decided against trying out for a drill team at a regular college because of the artistic opportunities CIA allowed her. At a regular college, she would perform with a team at sporting events and national competitions.
Through CIA’s dance program, Stewart will be able to work with artists at the school whether it be fashion designers designing costumes for the dance program’s shows or working with the music department and incorporating musicians’ original music into her performances. A long with the creative exploration CIA’s dance program allows, it’s location had a large impact on Stewart’s decision when she visited it for the first time with her father  Stewart in the summer prior to her senior year. When she came home, Mindy recalls Stewart describing the school as a “playground” – somewhere she could do anything she dreamed of with dance.
“[CIA] is near L.A. and when you’re going into something like dance, L.A. is the perfect setting to pursue it,” Stewart said.
After studying at CIA, Stewart hopes to work for a professional dance company or open her own studio for other dancers who share the same life-long passion she has.
“Dance has allowed me to become a much more open person to life,” Stewart said. “I can’t picture my life without dance.”