Senior Lauren Roberts takes the leap from Redwood to a professional dance career

Jack Green

While lacing up her cream-colored pointe shoes, one might assume that senior Lauren Roberts was just another dancer preparing for rehearsal. However, they wouldn’t know the leap she had taken into the professional world of ballet.

Lauren attended three and a half years of high school at Redwood, but as she started to think about her future she realized that dance was something she wanted to pursue full time, so she decided not to traditionally attend Redwood second semester.

“For a while I just did dance for the sake of doing it, because I love to do it. I never thought that I was necessarily capable of making it in the professional world, but then I started talking with a lot of people and taking classes everywhere and getting a lot of different opinions and I became a lot more optimistic and I realized that maybe I could do it,” Lauren said.  

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“I remember that at a young age she had a lot of wonderful qualities and it was a matter of slowly but surely refining some things for her,” Torres said. “The first year she was very quick, very smart and a hell of a worker. She is very down to earth about her work and really wants to succeed with a foundation.”

Lauren’s mother, Leslie Roberts, said that her daughter has always had dancing in her blood.

Lauren has never stopped moving. She was the baby who would not sit on my lap in the mommy-baby group and who insisted on pushing the stroller, not sitting in it,” Leslie said. “Dance will always be in her life, not matter what major or career path she pursues.”

Currently, Lauren is in an independent study program that consists of taking government online and a couple of classes at College of Marin so that she can balance her academic studies while pursuing dance.

“I realized that dance is such a short-lived career that if I wanted to make it professionally, or even go off to a college dance program, now is the time to do so, and I realized dance is what I love to do so why not do it now,” Lauren said.

Although Torres hopes to have “lit the fire” of Lauren’s  interest in dance, he still encourages her to receive an education, which other instructors in his position don’t normally do, according to Torres.

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“I would never say ‘No Lauren, you have to dance,’ because it is a difficult art, it is a difficult business. That’s a reality that I think a lot of children don’t understand. You still have to eat, you still have to pay bills, you still have to have life,” Torres said.

Currently, Lauren is still struggling between deciding to attend a traditional four-year college for dance and entering a pre-professional program to help prepare her for the industry.

Torres has also made it very clear to Lauren that the professional world is not a forgiving place, but if she is committed then the reward will be great.

“Lauren has to follow her gut. I can be a small pathmaker to get her where she wants. It’s a lot of luck, a lot of timing and an immense amount of work, and sometimes there’s not a payoff, and there is a lot of disappointment. But, I can honestly say, for all that disappointment you get that one magic moment, be it on stage, for a company, a choreographer, a production, Broadway, it makes up for everything,” Torres said.

Lauren is well aware that professional dance is no small feat, but she said she is still determined to continue to work hard and do the best she can within the industry.

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“It’s definitely a hard career. It’s one of the hardest paths to be a part of. There’s a lot of body shaming, there’s a lot of competition, and it’s not necessarily a lot of money so you have to be okay with that and realize that it’s what you love to do and that’s all that matters, instead of being in it for the money,” Lauren said.

Lauren will receive her decisions from the various pre-professional programs and colleges to which she has applied soon. And at that time, she hopes she will be ready to choose what direction to take her dance career.

For now, Lauren is still torn between the two prospects and is uncertain where her dancing future will take her.

“Even over the last few months I’ve changed my mind several times, so in a couple months who knows where I’ll be,” Lauren said.