HER Cover

The Magic Be­hind the Throne: Vaughn’'s pas­sion for dance stretches back to child­hood

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - Story by Lind­sey Wells, pho­tog­ra­phy by Mara Kuhn

At the ten­der age of 2, Jen­nifer Vaughn be­gan train­ing for what would be­come her life­long pas­sion and, even­tu­ally, ca­reer. By the age of 16 she was a paid in­struc­tor and per­form­ing with the Moscow Bal­let, and by 27 she had opened her own dance stu­dio in Hot Springs, Di­a­mond Dance Com­pany at 3812-A Cen­tral Ave.

Now, at 28, in ad­di­tion to in­struct­ing her stu­dents and or­ga­niz­ing events with her com­pany, she will join lo­cal ma­gi­cian Maxwell Blade on stage for his shows at The Maxwell Blade Theatre of Magic as his as­sis­tant.

“When I first opened the stu­dio in 2016 I ran into Max at a char­ity event and my stu­dents just loved him. They ran up to the stage and af­ter the show was over they all wanted to take a pic­ture with him. I called him over and he signed like 15 au­to­graphs and took pho­tos and he ended up giv­ing me tick­ets to his show. I’ve lived in Hot Springs al­most my whole life and I’d never been to this the­ater be­fore,” said Vaughn.

She at­tended his show and was amazed at the magic she was see­ing right in front of her. She in­vited him to per­form at her com­pany’s first recital where, to­gether, they com­bined dance and magic.

“He taught me a trick and it was in­trigu­ing to me be­cause I was stand­ing right there and when I got to learn some of the parts I just thought, ‘Wow, this is so much more work than any­body re­al­izes.’ I don’t think he gets the ap­pre­ci­a­tion that he de­serves be­cause it is a real tal­ent.”

Vaughn and Blade per­formed to­gether a few times af­ter that, and he even­tu­ally asked her to join him on stage as his as­sis­tant for the up­com­ing shows at the newly ren­o­vated Malco Theatre.

“She’s re­ally won­der­ful to work with and she’s very tal­ented, of course,” said Blade. “We have worked to­gether be­fore at a cou­ple of func­tions, I made an ap­pear­ance at one of her an­nual events a cou­ple of years ago and we’ve just be­come friends, so of course, in look­ing for an as­sis­tant for this new show, I reached out to her. She’s very tal­ented, easy to work with and learns quick.”

“So I’ll learn some of the tricks and we’re go­ing to col­lab­o­rate the danc­ing and magic to­gether, so I’ll be chore­ograph­ing a lot of his shows as well,” Vaughn said.

“It’s been a long year. It’s been a hard year but it’s been well worth the ef­fort and the money spent to bring the Malco back and we can’t wait to get back in, get set­tled in and start bring­ing other types of per­for­mances to town,” Blade added.

Vaughn said her love for dance pre­sented it­self at a young age. Her par­ents put her in bal­let and tap dance classes at the age of 2.

“I did a lit­tle bit of gym­nas­tics but at some point you kind of have to choose where you’re go­ing to go. I was clas­si­cally trained my whole life, and then I con­tin­ued on and when I was 16 years old I per­formed with the Moscow Bal­let. I trained with the Rus­sians for two years and af­ter that I was an in­struc­tor, so at 16 I was a paid in­struc­tor at a dance stu­dio,” she said.

Vaughn worked with the Moscow Bal­let for two years and learned the Rus­sian style of dance.

“It was re­ally nice to learn a dif­fer­ent style. They put the foot place­ment dif­fer­ently than you would put it in the other styles. I loved how strict and dis­ci­plined they are. They re­ally push you to be your best and they don’t set­tle for any­thing less than that. They’re very, very fo­cused and I love that.”

Though she’s al­ways loved bal­let dance, her fa­vorite style of dance is con­tem­po­rary.

“I I re­ally like the con­tem­po­rary art be­cause you can re­ally ex­press your­self and you can try so many dif­fer­ent types of con­tem­po­rary dance, whether it be re­ally emo­tional or fun, there’s a lot you can do with that style.”

She trav­eled around the coun­try tak­ing work­shops and con­tin­u­ing her ed­u­ca­tion and at­tended UALR where she was a dance and busi­ness ma­jor. She then moved to Ten­nessee and helped a friend open a stu­dio there and did a lot of in­de­pen­dent con­tract work.

“When I was in high school — my high school year­book ac­tu­ally says I’m go­ing to open a dance stu­dio, be­cause when I was a child it was a dream of mine and I al­ways wanted to do that in Hot Springs, Ark., be­cause I knew there weren’t a whole lot of stu­dios here and I wanted to bring a pro­fes­sional

level of train­ing to this city and re­ally give these kids op­por­tu­ni­ties, be­cause when you live in Hot Springs you kind of limit your­self some­times be­cause you haven’t seen the world,” Vaughn said.

“You might be in­tim­i­dated about what they do in New York and Cal­i­for­nia so I try to bring peo­ple in from those states to give these kids ed­u­ca­tion and help them ex­pand out­side of this town, and even if they want to stay in Hot Springs, you want to give them an op­por­tu­nity to per­form here and to con­tinue their dream.”

Vaughn said she never dreamed that she would own her own stu­dio at the young age of 28.

“I al­ways knew I would have a dance stu­dio but I thought I would be mar­ried with chil­dren and far­ther along. The op­por­tu­nity came a lot quicker than I imag­ined so now I’m hav­ing to read­just, what comes next, be­cause I’ve achieved this and I’m thank­ful but I’m not stop­ping here,” she said.

She said she hopes to ex­pand and one day have a larger stu­dio space.

“The one rea­son I like work­ing with Max is be­cause we have a lot of the same creative ideas, so we can work to­gether and put to­gether new shows. I would be fine with do­ing a new show ev­ery week­end. We have such a big tourism city and I would like to bring new things that peo­ple have never seen into Hot Springs. So my stu­dio, we’re grow­ing and we’re mak­ing it larger and new ideas are com­ing ev­ery day,” she said.

Vaughn said one of the things she loves about teach­ing dance is see­ing her stu­dents over­come their fears and chal­lenges.

“Some­times they will try a turn and they can’t get it the first time and they get frus­trated, so re­ally en­cour­ag­ing them to keep try­ing, to keep go­ing, and then to see them ac­com­plish that goal is re­ally ex­cit­ing, and when we get to put chore­og­ra­phy to­gether, it starts out as just an idea and to re­ally watch these dancers come to life and to see the par­ents so proud of them and the kids re­ally feel like they’ve achieved some­thing. I know that will carry into their per­sonal lives too, be­cause even if they don’t dance for­ever, they’re learn­ing life lessons about dis­ci­pline and about re­ally push­ing your­self to be ev­ery­thing you can be,” she added.

Stu­dents’ ages at her com­pany range from 2 years old to el­derly adults. Classes are level-based, not age-based, so stu­dents are placed into a level that the in­struc­tors feel they are fit to be in.

Vaughn said an in­jury in col­lege forced her to stop danc­ing for a year, and dur­ing that year off she be­came a per­sonal trainer be­cause she wanted to help peo­ple strengthen their bod­ies, lose weight, and reach their goals.

“I do know quite a bit about nu­tri­tion and it’s very im­por­tant to take care of your­self and how you eat. I worked out in the gym for years but now I get so much ex­er­cise just jump­ing around with the stu­dents. I ac­tu­ally eat more now that I own the stu­dio just to keep the en­ergy go­ing. You re­ally have to watch what you eat to make sure you can sus­tain the amount of calo­ries that you’re burn­ing. I’ve al­ways been very fo­cused on stay­ing fit be­cause I know it’s im­por­tant, and hav­ing to keep up with these kids, I can’t let them outdo me,” she said, laugh­ing.

If she could give one piece of ad­vice to a young dancer in­ter­ested in turn­ing dance into a ca­reer, Vaughn said it is that you have to be pas­sion­ate.

“That’s the big­gest thing. If you want to suc­ceed in dance or any­thing in life you have to stay fo­cused and driven. There will al­ways be ob­sta­cles, there are go­ing to be chal­lenges and things that you’ll have to over­come but if you’re fo­cused on your goals, your dreams, don’t let any­thing stop you from that. Pas­sion is a big thing that re­ally keeps me go­ing be­cause through the hard days you have to stay fo­cused on the end game and where you’re go­ing with this. And once you achieve a goal, set a new one, don’t stop there be­cause you never know what can hap­pen next,” she said.

An­other piece of ad­vice she has is that “you have to be able to laugh at your­self and be OK with be­ing hu­man.”

“Some­times you just slip and fall or you get tired and your leg gives out. You have to be able to make mis­takes with grace and get back and up and don’t let it ruin your day,” she said. “In our stu­dio the girls some­times will fall for the first time and we laugh, we laugh at each other. I’ve fallen in front of the stu­dents be­fore and we don’t want them to ever come out of there feel­ing like a fail­ure be­cause of that. We’re all hu­man and danc­ing is an art. Some peo­ple look at it as a hobby but we work our en­tire life to make it look easy.”

When she isn’t danc­ing or teach­ing, Vaughn said she en­joys soli­tude and hang­ing out with her cat, Tuxedo.

“I’m around so many peo­ple and noise and lights so when I’m alone I love to travel, I like to see new places, whether that be out of the coun­try or not. There are so many places that are gor­geous and it shows you what is im­por­tant in life, and some­times I think it’s im­por­tant to take a step away from your nor­mal life and see how other peo­ple live.

“I like see­ing other peo­ple’s shows, I like to be entertained, be­cause I’m con­stantly try­ing to find ways to be in­spired. And I like the out­doors. I love any­thing out­side, I like to hike, sit by the lake, any­thing that’s re­ally re­lax­ing and quiet. Spa day is my best friend,” she said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.