Just Don’t Ever Give Up
I’m a soloist at DES Dance Studio and I’ll be on the group competition team for one more year – and then I plan to start here as a student instructor. I think I’ll probably teach Hip Hop because that’s where the team needs me the most right now. This studio has always been important to me and it means a lot to go from being a student here to being an instructor. It feels good that I’ve accomplished something.
My name is Stevie Plank. S-t-e-v-i-e like Stevie Nicks, and then Plank – like a board.
I recently graduated from Goshen High School. I’ve been dancing at DES Dance Studio since I was 10. I always loved dancing – it’s just something I’ve always been doing. Dance is in my family. My grandma was a baton twirler and she had a baton group for a long, long time. And my mom was twirling a baton from the time she was 18 months until she was 18.
I was a good twirler, too. But no one is better than my mom – she can still twirl better than me.
The past three years I’ve been doing competitions with DES Dance – we go to places like Fort Wayne and Chicago. It’s a lot of fun. Kind of overwhelming, but in a good way – it’s a joyful experience. My first year in competitions I came in 3rd, 4th and 5th in different events. Last year I placed 6th. Earlier this year I finished 3rd at a competition.
In May we had our last competition of the season – it was in Chicago, Illinois, at the Groove Dance Competition. Our studio was awarded the Professionalism Award – which is a huge honor. It was a really great way for our team to end the season. And I was really happy because I won First Place in a Novice Senior Solo event. For me that was nice; it made me feel like I’ve been preparing well and I’m getting ready for the next chapter.
There always will be ups and downs for everyone in a dance studio; that’s just a part of how things go when you stick with something for a long period of time. You go through different stages of improvement and excitement – it’s pretty normal.
But two days after my 16th birthday, in 2021, my dad passed away from Covid. And that was just really, really tough…very difficult to go through. My dad was always such a big supporter of mine. He couldn’t always come to the events and competitions I danced at, but he was so important to me. He never stopped encouraging me in everything I ever did.
That was the hardest time of my life, when my dad died – I never felt that low before. I couldn’t go to school and I was dealing with a lot of depression. It was really hard. I had to take a break from dancing and I didn’t see my friends from the studio for a while.
When I finally came back to DES Dance it was just so therapeutic. I felt so supported and really uplifted by everyone – it felt like getting back with family. I was just so happy, and it felt really good to get back to dancing and focusing on all the movements and focusing on moving forward; starting to try and move past the grief.
I’ve always loved coming here and learning and getting better at dancing – I started out with Hip Hop and jazz and then moved on to ballet. Then I started on contemporary – and that’s been my favorite. Contemporary has really smooth elements and transitions and you can really be expressive with your emotions and have a lot of fun with it.
It’s going to be a lot of fun once I start as a student instructor. I hope I do end up teaching Hip Hop because it’s a fun style and the movements let you be more controlling and really dynamic. I’m really excited that I’m going to be working here next year.
My advice for anyone is to keep learning and keep doing the things you love, no matter what. And just don’t let things get you too down, even if you’re going through something really hard. Even when it’s really, really tough – just don’t ever give up.
DES Dance was founded in 2015 by Desiree Lantz and is located in The Exchange Suites in downtown Goshen. DES Dance offers ballet, jazz, tap, and Hip Hop for ages 3-19 and fields a competition/travel dance team. For more information, please call Michelle at (574) 364-0705 or learn more by visiting desdancestudio.com.
Written by Jake Sandock
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