Campus Celebrity: Grace Horrocks

Grace Horrocks is more than your average University of Arizona student. She can multitask with the highest level of precision, as she conquers a truly sweat-inducing schedule. While double majoring in Dance and Women’s Studies, Horrocks manages to minor in Theater, keep a job, engage in extracurricular activities and have a social life! Her life, much like her charming personality, is far from ordinary.

Name: Grace Horrocks

Age: 21

Major: Dance / Women’s Studies

Minor: Theatre Arts

Grade: Junior

Job: Starbucks Barista and Dance Instructor

What started your dance career?

“I started dance when I was 2 years old. My two older sisters are dancers, and I just kind of copied them, and I’ve been dancing since, so about 18 years.”

What style of dance do you practice?

“I started in ballet and I kind of grew up with the idea that ballet was very important, and it was the most important, which it really is. Ballet technique is needed for a lot of styles. My older sister is a professional ballet dancer, so I kind of looked up to her with that. So up to age 18, I loved ballet the most, but I did competitions for 9 years and that was a lot of jazz, tap, musical theatre, and hip-hop.

When I came to college, I started modern dance. At the UA, there’s a triple track program, so its ballet, modern and jazz with equal emphasis, which is one of the only ones in the country that does that, so that’s why I came. Now, I kind of have veered away from ballet. I realized it’s not what I love to do the most, in terms of dance styles. For the future, I really want to do more theatre dance, jazz, modern, and contemporary dance.”

When and how did you start teaching kids to dance?

“At my studio, we had assistants, dance assistants, that could assist the younger kid’s classes. I started when I was about 12 years old, assisting ballet to 3 to 5 year olds and assisting jazz to 6 to 8 years olds. From there, I picked it up and kept assisting more and taking classes alongside that. When I became about a sophomore in high school, I started to teach my own classes.

At first I taught just preschool level, so 3 to 5 year olds, and then, gradually, I would be asked to teach more advanced classes. I remember once I was 16 and I taught 18 year olds a ballet class and it was weird, but it was cool because it was just like the class that I take, but now I was teaching it.”

What is a funny or interesting story about your time teaching kids?

“I was an assistant for this ballet class, all the kids were about 3 years old in it, and it was the recital at the end of the year; they all go on stage with costumes and it’s a big deal for them. The assistants, just to make sure they don’t run off stage or something, have to be on the side of the stage just basically babysitting or monitoring them. I was on the side of the stage, and this little girl at the end of the line just pee’s her pants, and the pee just spreads all across the stage and no one knew what to do, and no one knew why I was freaking out. So I had to figure out how to deal with that…I don’t really remember how it resolved, but the curtain had to go down and we just had to wipe it up. That was one thing that happens all the time.

Another weird one, I was assisting a jazz class and a girl, in the middle of our warm up, just leaves and goes to her dance bag.  And as she opens her dance bag, a live bunny comes out of it and runs across the room and we had no idea what to do. We just told her she’s not allowed to have animals in the studio and she was sent home because she had a bunny with her, it was really weird.

Kids do things that they don’t know, like, rules that we see as common sense, and so its really interesting to see these things that happen and things that they do because its kind of liberating almost, when you’re teaching them, and they bring these things in and do these things and they don’t realize it’s not ‘etiquette’ or what’s seen as the ‘normal’ way to act.”

How do you like the UofA?

“I like the UofA. I came from LA so I thought it would be a lot different in Tucson, but honestly, it’s amazing in Tucson. There’s such a cool art community here and I feel like much more, its much more relatable for me here, than it is in LA in terms of the art community, and there are a lot of lower demographics here, that my gender women’s studies degree kind of sprouted from just being in Tucson, rather than LA where its very wealth oriented and high class, so it was really cool to come to Tucson.

In terms of the dance program, its great here we get to take class in modern, jazz and ballet so that’s really nice. They really push for well rounded dancers, which I think is needed the most in terms of like getting a job, and getting a job is so hard for everyone right now, so UofA really caters to the dance department, really caters to that, like making us marketable for any job. Its really motivating the we go here, the audition process is really selective so you’re amongst amazing people who constantly inspire you everyday in classes. We all just motivate each other. It’s a really welcoming environment, which is rare in the dance world.”

How do you balance dance, school, work and a social life?

“Well, social life, I live with one of my best friends so we always talk about how I would never get to see her if I didn’t live with her, because I’m barely home. So when I am home, it’s just for that 20 minutes that I’m home, or 10 minutes that I’m home, and we see each other and we get to spend time with each other, and we maintain our relationship. It is hard, especially for dance. You have to stay fit and healthy, so you can’t just not sleep. I think putting health as a priority has really helped me. I think that if I didn’t take health as one of the most serious things in my life, then I wouldn’t be able to do all of it. I stress a lot, but you just have to take it day by day. Working to stay positive, it’s a full time job doing that alone. I think just taking health really seriously is what you have to do.”

What advice can you give to girls at the UofA?

“I think the best advice I can give, and something I constantly have to work to follow, would be: remember what’s important.  If your stressing out about certain things, think about why they are there, and if there’s something that maybe necessarily isn’t going to contribute to your goal, try and just eliminate it, because those little things, especially as woman, those pressures and little worries, those are things that if we didn’t worry about, we could be using our minds so much more. So try to not boggle down on things that aren’t ‘important.’ Just remember that you are here at UofA and if you’re doing a million things because of your mind and your capabilities, just stay focused on that and don’t waste your mind on things that society or different outside sources puts on you. Stay focused and remind yourself what’s actually important.

What are your goals for the future?

“Well, dance careers are really short-lived. For the most part, most people’s bodies can’t take dance forever; you can’t dance forever at your peak, so a lot of people see that as a negative, but I kind of like it because I feel like I’ll be able to dance until however long I’ll be able to dance professionally. And then say that’s when I’m thirty five, I say ‘okay I can’t do this anymore,’ then I want to do a whole other career.

First, when I leave college, my focus is going to be 100 percent dance oriented, and I wouldn’t say no to a touring company, doing more musical theatre-oriented shows, or a contemporary or modern-influenced company, but I’m really leaning towards tours, like shows that tour, because I want to travel more and see different places. I think right out of college, if I get a job with a cruise line, I’ll take it, because it’s a really good job financially, and I would love it.”

Photo credit: © Victoria Hudson 2016