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Dance is a Lifestyle

Professional dancer Kristina Zgoda

If you missed the dance performances at this year’s Elmwood Festival of the Arts, then you missed the opportunity to watch some truly talented and marvelously fit people as they locked into musical rhythms and twisted, leapt, and pirouetted across the main stage at Lafayette and Elmwood. Kirstina Zgoda is with the Lehrer Dance Company and Artvoice asked her about the health and fitness aspects of her art.

KZ: I started dancing when I was a little girl, at the age of three. I’ve always loved it and it’s always kept me in shape. Growing up through the years I continued to do it through high school into college and now I’m dancing in a professional dance company.

Dancing, not only keeps me in shape but it also seems keep me young. I’m 27 now and I feel younger than I did when I was 22. The other thing is that dance always inspires me to try new things and it creates surprising adventure because I never know where in life it’s going to lead me.

Working with the Lehrer Dance Company has brought a close family aspect to my practice and art. We all are from different areas of the country; I’m from Chicago, and we came together to Buffalo to join in this company. We didn’t know anybody here, so immediately we had this family connection amongst ourselves. We travel on tour together, and we’re in rehearsal everyday together from nine-thirty until two. So it’s not only a friendship, it’s a very close family. We trust each other. Even if sometimes we get upset with each other we know that when we’re on stage and performing that we’re all going to be there for each other.

With regard to fitness practicing the discipline of dance has definitely improved my strength over the years, especially with the style of dance I do now with Lehrer Dance. I’ve noticed that my strength is improving dramatically. And with dance there is obviously a lot of balance needed; a lot of movement is based in our core and our center. We always have to be balanced, especially in the studio; although, it’s a lot easier there because you’re looking at yourself in the mirror. But then when you take it to stage there is no mirror so you have to be able to balance and control everything on stage.

AV: What about diet?

KZ: I don’t really have a regimented nutrition or diet, but I think it’s just a general thing that as dancers we tend to eat on the healthier side. I definitely like to be conscious of what I’m eating just because what I do with my body is so demanding; a dancer has to be in great shape because performing is a full body workout; it’s not just the legs, like when I was younger and played soccer. With dance it’s the whole body the whole time. We’re using our arms, we’re using our legs, and we’re using our center. So we’re constantly getting this full body workout.

But you know, another important thing is that dancing has helped me in life, not just in the strength aspect, but it’s helped me feel more confident. I feel like when I walk into a room I know how to carry myself. Even if it’s something like going to apply for other jobs, I feel very confident within myself just because of the dancing. I also teach dance. So I feel like that craft of dancing and my learning every day helps me to become a better teacher and makes me feel confident with my students.

—AV Interview by J.M.

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