Dance is one of my favorite pastimes so it was such a joy to connect with Christina Hesslau to discuss her latest dance adventures. I had the pleasure of meeting Christina a few years ago while working on an event on campus. She was, and still is sweet as ever, determined, and just such a joy to be around which is why I thought she’d be a perfect fit to launch the Babes Breaking Barriers movement. Dancing her way into the hearts of many, Christina has taken the reigns of her life pursuing a career dancing, teaching, and getting involved with film.
Christina Hesslau, a girl on pointe!
Dance is Christina’s life, and she is a perfect example of how anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Though starting out later than most dancers, Christina proved to the world that passion and determination will always be able to hold a candle to time.
A little background….
She shared an endearing story with me about how she once blanked out on stage and forgot the choreography, but Christina has come a long way from her beginning dance days. Before pursuing training in college Christina had been dancing on and off for about 7 years. In May 2015 she graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Dance and Business Management.
At 16 she was the dance captain at her high school, and that ignited her love for choreography, teaching and performing. She went on to compete in different dance competitions with her high school as well as with the acting school John Robert Powers. She was offered a dance performance opportunity through UDA (Universal Dance Association) that sent her to Rome as an All American Dancer to perform in the New Year’s Day Parade. She was also sent to Las Vegas through John Robert Powers for the iPOP Convention for dance and was awarded Top Ten Dancer amongst many aspiring dancers within the competition. It was then that she knew it wasn’t just a passion. Dance could take her places!
When I asked her why she decided to teach she told me that she loves to encourage, inspire and education children! They remind her every day why she chose this field, and that they inspire me more than they even realize!
With a goal of opening her own studio to create a space with a family feel, Christina is on a fast track to success. She wants all of her students to feel like they are a part of something special because she believes this is the key to them growing as a dancer. It is possible that we may be seeing this studio sooner than you think!
When we are put under such pressure to be perfect, we work ourselves up to a point where we don’t allow ourselves the confidence to perform to the best of our abilities. – Christina Hesslau”
Q&A With Christina Hesslau
What is one thing you would want the world to know about you?
If there was one thing I’d like the world to know about me is that, I started my serious dance training later on in life. I never trained from a young girl, intensively all the way through my adulthood years. I danced here and there as a hobby, but never trained as much as I should have as a young dancer.
Once I had gotten into high school and begin traveling and competing, did I begin my serious training prior to my college training. For most dancers, that is considered very late. Most professional dancers intensively train from a young child in one or two studios all the way until they graduate and move on to college level classes. I was not fortunate enough to have that intensive training. I worked very hard, taking more classes than required, staying late in the studio, practicing at home, late night rehearsals… I pushed myself very hard to strive for perfection. Though there is no such thing as perfection, and we are always working to improve ourselves, I am very proud and happy with how far I’ve come.
I am now a professional dancer in Chicago, teaching dance, choreographing, performing, working in film, and now Assistant Director of my studio. I always knew dance would be a part of my life, but I never imagined I would create so many opportunities that favor my passion and create a living for myself in the same breath!
What inspires you to dance?
Many things inspire me to dance. Dance itself is a passion of mine as well as an outlet that helps me express myself in ways I cannot convey through word. I am inspired everyday and by everyday things. Real life events are my main influence to create new works that reach my heart in a powerful way. Most of my choreography and dance works come from a very personal part of my being. Every piece that I’ve ever worked on, in terms of choreographic works, I’ve woven in my own life experiences, emotions, or influences of real life events into the pieces.
Which dancer(s) have inspired you and why?
This is a very difficult question to answer, because for me dancers in general inspire me. Movement inspires me. Creative people inspire me. Growing up, my teachers inspired me to pursue my dreams, my fellow classmates and professional dance colleagues inspire me with their various abilities and passions, seeing actual dance (live) by other dancers simply inspires me to continue to create! The dance world is one that continues to encourage, push and inspire one another to continue their art! For me, there is no one person.
What is something that keeps you strong when it gets difficult?
When I would feel discouraged, I would remind myself of why I am in this field to begin with. I would dance for myself to regain strength again through my own dance sessions. I would turn the lights off or dim them, and create a safe environment for myself, my own safe haven and let movement heal my own insecurities. This is my happy place. As cheesy as it may sound, dance itself is my own therapy. I feel rejuvenated and revived after a soulful session just for myself.
What has dance taught you?
Dance has taught me self-discipline, self-excellence, perseverance, drive and confidence not only in the dance world, but also in everyday life! These qualities are something only learnt through doing. You can’t learn these things from reading a book; rather develop over time, hard work and dedication. Dance has also given me thicker skin. I wasn’t always able to take certain criticisms constructively, growing up. But, dance can be very competitive and cutthroat at times and those experiences have made me a stronger person in the end. Dance truly sculpted me into the person I am today.
Advice to aspiring dancers?
The best advice I could give to any aspiring dancer is to keep going! If you love dance, dance will love you back. You have to truly love it to keep it going, you also need to surround yourself around creative people (dancers, artists etc.) who challenge you and inspire you, you also must work hard everyday, train everyday and keep your passion alive through personal practice and taking class. The amazing thing about dance is, there is no perfect form or perfect dancer, we are always learning, progressing and thriving for a better version of ourselves as artists. With that being said, always challenge yourself, take class and continue your personal training!
The only way dance will love you back is if you keep the fire alive within yourself! Dance is a physical art form; you can’t pack it up and frame it on a wall, it’s intangible. You, the artist, are the only person to keep the fire going. If you allow yourself to stay inspired, dance will always be there for you!
How do you deal with body image struggles and unhealthy habits within the industry/media?
This is something that I fell all dancers come encounter with at some point in their dance careers. There is a lot of pressure within the dance world to have the, “perfect” physique, but there is no such thing as “perfect” and as an adult, I can understand that now. As an athlete, yes, we need a strong body to perform to the best of our abilities, but we don’t need to starve ourselves or be unhealthy to reach those goals of the, “perfect” physique. A balance of proper nutrition and conditioning is essential. Every body type is different dependent on the dancers genetics. Not two people are the same. With age, I feel like I have come to the realization that healthy and strong is the goal for me, as far as body image goes and that can be different for every dancer.
Through dancing, Christina has developed a passion for film. For the past two years she has been working with Director, Daniel Zúñiga and his Production Company as well as Caleb Fortune from Iconic Arts on collaborating creative works, and has choreographed for numerous dance films. She is currently working on her latest piece called, “Letters,” which she is choreographing for and performing in.
Christina plans to keep teaching dance, work on dance film projects, choreograph pieces for local performances (such as Delve Showcase in Chicago) and continue her duties as the Assistant Director of A Fairytale Ballet.
Other hobbies: Cooking, reading, and writing. She has been working on a book that she hopes to one day like to finish!
Find out how Christina stays in shape, and her views on body image.
To learn more about Christina, visit here website here.
Check out the rest of our babes breaking barriers here.