Dancing Through Life

Bailey Walker’s experience with art for art’s sake is beautiful and raw. She drops the competition to make room for creativity to blossom.

The twenty-one-year-old dancer from Saratoga Springs doesn’t fit the professional dancer mold because she started dancing with the goal to create and educate rather than perform.

Walker got her start in the athletic arts when her mother signed her up for gymnastics at 4 years old. She continued with gymnastics, practicing and competing for 10 years before she found her way to dance as a separate art form.

Even as a gymnast, Walker had a flair for creative movement which took hold when her friend convinced her to join her junior high school dance company. From there, her road seemed set as she continued dancing into high school and college.

Her high school career culminated in an opportunity to choreograph a showcase. She created an extremely personal work of art that ended up being chosen as the final piece of the show.

“I was working with an idea about some issues that had been going on in my family and had been on my mind for a really long time,” Walker said. “The piece ended up being really emotional for a lot of people because they found a piece of what they were going through in my choreography.”

In the fall of 2015, she started school at SUU and quickly declared her major as dance education with plans to work towards a secondary teaching license. Her ultimate goal is to work with high school students to increase their confidence in themselves as artists.

“The more I think about it, I realize that gymnastics was a stepping stone,” she said. “I found myself in modern dance, which is so different from gymnastics. It is so interesting to me how people can move their bodies and the movement is really powerful.”

Walker’s favorite style, modern dance, began as a rebellion against the more rigid technical styles that preceded it, such as ballet. Ballet has the rep as being inhuman with grande jetés that seem to hover in the air and fouetté turns that spin longer than a whistling top. Ballet uses humanity to tell the stories but the actual performance is often ethereal and seemingly magic.

“I really love watching ballet, but I love performing modern because it’s a little more forgiving in the sense that if you fall over it’s easier to play it off like that was part of the dance,” Walker said. “I’m very human, which is why I like modern. Modern takes the middle ground between untouchable and relatable.”

After her sophomore year at SUU, Walker took time off to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Costa Rica. She described her mission as being a very rewarding experience but commented that the transition back into academic life has been a little bumpy. The experience left her feeling behind in both her technique and in retraining her body for the physical demand of life as a dancer.

Walker currently works as a coach at the Southern Utah Gymnastics Academy and has spent summers teaching dance to gymnasts. Between her courses at SUU and her work experience, Walker feels very confident about her career choice.

“I think that gymnastics and dance have a lot in common and doing them together is something that I would like to incorporate at some point,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed my classes where we are honoring kinesthetic learners. There are so many people who don’t learn sitting in a lecture. I like the idea of using dance to introduce topics that maybe would be too far out of reach for these learners in a traditional classroom setting.”

The biggest lesson Walker has learned from her time at SUU is how to be aware of her body. Through spending her days and nights in technique classes and rehearsals she learned the value of taking care of her body while pushing her limits. Pushing herself to find and create new movement opens up the possibilities of gaining a new perspective and understanding of the world around her.

Dancers are focused on creating art and developing innovative ways to challenge their viewers to look at life as the art form that it is. Walker hopes to not only continue this tradition, but teach the next generation to create with their heart and soul— not to walk through the motions, but dance their way through life.

Story by: Alexis J. Taylor
Photos from: Bailey Walker