Grace Pendleton enjoys the art of storytelling when it comes to being a competitive dancer. In terms of her own story, Grace has formed many long-lasting friendships, while earning several prized accolades throughout her career.
Grace, a Clinton resident who is entering her freshman year at Morgan, started with gymnastics before getting into dance with ballet and tap. Now as a member of The Dance Corner studio in Killingworth, Grace is taking her game to another level. Most recently, Grace’s solo and duet performances earned runner-up honors at the Starpower National Championships at Mohegan Sun, after which her lyrical dance team placed first in the 12-and-over small group at the World Class Talent Experience National Championship in Mystic. Grace says she loves the challenge of putting everything she has into her passion.
“I enjoy being able to tell a story when I dance, and it’s also allowed me to meet new people,” says Grace. “I’ve worked really hard and have been really dedicated to dance, and the dedication has taken me a long way. It’s not always about winning for me. I enjoy the experience of putting in the time and effort.”
Grace’s proudest moments on the dance floor have come from competing on some major national stages. She also enjoys the moments when she to gets to talk to the audience that just watched her perform.
“I love going for titles at different competitions. I also like speaking in front of people at competitions and doing extra dances after my solos,” Grace says. “I enjoy taking master classes, and I’m proud of the scholarships I’ve won through both them and other performances.”
The Dance Corner features an eclectic group of athletes from many surrounding towns, and so Grace has had the chance to meet plenty of new people. As a result, she’s formed strong bonds with her colleagues that have strengthened her confidence.
“I enjoy meeting people from different towns, and my dance team is my second family. They are so supportive. We all work really hard, and I enjoy each moment I have with them every day,” says Grace. “I’ve definitely gotten better with my turns in dance. I’ve managed to work on different aspects and techniques of turns. I’ve also improved my flexibility and learned new acrobatic skills.”
Dance Corner director Carrie Smith says that Grace displays great determination on the dance floor and stays away from any sort of complacency.
“Grace is an extremely hard worker. She listens to her teacher’s corrections and applies them, which is very important for a dancer,” says Smith. “She is always trying to do better than she did in her last class or her last performance. Grace is always pushing herself and doesn’t believe she is perfect or that she has accomplished it all. She is always trying to improve.”
Smith adds that Grace is a dedicated student of dance who puts in a lot of extra effort in order to hone her craft.
“One thing that always impresses me about Grace is how she takes advantage of any opportunity to dance that comes her way. She spends hours outside of regular classes, rehearsing on her own or with her duet partner. She jumps at the chance to take any added classes,” Smith says. “Some of the competitions we attend each season offer free master classes to dancers. Grace is always there, sometimes at 7 a.m. after a late night of competition, to take class. She truly lives dance. I can see the passion she has for it, and she doesn’t take her talent for granted. She knows that is not enough. She needs to work hard at dance every day if she wants to be great.”
Grace is ready for a new chapter of her life with high school on the horizon. As far as her future aspirations, Grace is already thinking about becoming a mentor to young adults herself one day.
“I’m very excited about entering high school this year. I’d like to continue dance throughout my life,” says Grace, who thanks her family, as well as dance teacher Sam Hermann. “I would love to be a special education teacher, but I would also like to be a dance teacher, because I love teaching and also learning from the younger kids. I also want them to enjoy themselves with dance, too.”