Ariana Lake: “You choose what affects you. You decide”

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(Oranjestad)—Ariana Lake is a young lady of 16 that has been dancing since she was very young. She describes herself as someone who loves to read, dance and cook. In an interview with our reporter, Ariana shared stories about her childhood, her experiences as a dancer how these experiences in the dance world helped her grow in different aspects of her life.

Ariana says that she had a lot of happy memories; there were many things she enjoyed. One of these things was going out every day as a child, because there was also some activity to do.

She also shared that she loved growing up was the fact that she was very close to her family, because whenever there was a celebration of any sort, everyone would gather at her house and come play and eat.

Ariana is currently in her senior year of high school. After graduating, she will be following the program called Academic Foundation Year (AFY) at the University of Aruba, because she still is not sure which academic direction to take yet.

She explained that with AFY, she will have the opportunity to experience a bit of every career path and see which one she likes best to continue studying. She will also be taking this opportunity as a chance to improve her Dutch for when she will eventually further her studies in The Netherlands.

“I’m a perfectionist and I want the right foundation by the time I leave for The Netherlands, so that I won’t have any struggles with the language. That’s my next step,” she expressed.

Ariana started dancing since she was six years old. Her first experience in dance was a workshop for ballet and Venezuelan folkloric dance. The next two years, she danced in the Venezuelan consulate. After that, she joined the dance group Kids & Youth in Action, where she has been a part of for eight years now.

She told our reporter that one of her motivations for starting dancing was to have fun and to meet new people. By the time she decided to join Kids & Youth in Action, she wanted to learn different types of dance.

Ariana has a fuller figure, and some people may say that her body does not fit the standards expected for a dancer. This affected Ariana for some time, because she felt very excluded from her peers in some aspects.

“Excluded in the sense that I couldn’t wear the same types of performance outfits. For example, if the other girls were to wear a mini skirt and sleeve-less shirts, I would get a long skirt and a shirt with sleeves, because I was led to believe that I didn’t look good in the clothes that the others were wearing. I would sometimes also be excluded from performing at certain showcases and events, just because I didn’t have the desired body,” she remarked.

She added that this was something that was really hard for her to deal with and her self-confidence suffered severely because of it: “It’s not something I’d ever wish upon anyone else.”

On the hand, however, that experience motivated her to improve in other aspects. She shared that because she was feeling excluded, she needed to work harder so she can prove to people that she is just as capable, regardless of her size; that she can dance just as good and maybe even better than the other dancers.

“That was something that me stronger and better in my craft. Years later, I’m now one of few dancers who knows how to dance all genres, I know what it means to bring attitude to a performance, to get the crowd excited. I know what it means to train hard, because if I don’t get something the first try, I’ll practice at home until I do. That was something that made me realize that you choose what affects you. You decide,” she expressed.

For Ariana, dancing was a tool that helped her grow in other aspects of her life. Dancing made her more responsible and disciplined; she learned how to lead and how to set priorities.

In terms of leadership, she explained that she had the opportunity to teach choreographs to other younger dancers. Through this, she learned how to teach children, how to talk to them and how to set an example for them. She shares that this reflects in her studies. For example, whenever there was a group project, she was often chosen to lead her group mates. This was a quality she acquired thanks to dancing.

Ariana’s message for the youth of Aruba is this: “Whatever is for you, will come to you. Maybe you didn’t get everything you wanted, but that was because it wasn’t for you; there something better out there for you. You control what affects you. Maybe someone told you something mean or rude, but it’s up to you if you’re going to be sad of if you are just going to ignore those negative comments. You are the decider of what affects you and you are the one who will have to decide what you’re going to do with it. Let this be a motivation for you, to show yourself and other people that you are more than capable.”