Humans of Harker: Miranda Larsen perfects her dance moves

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Melissa Kwan

"Dance is unique because it's fleeting," Miranda Larsen (12) said. "You do the dance once, and it's done. There are recordings of it, but you can never see it in person again–that's powerful. People who are there experience it, and everyone else doesn't — it's up in the air."

by Prameela Kottapalli, Winged Post Features Editor

Miranda has danced for thirteen years — well over half her life. From participating in a club dance program outside of school to performing with the varsity dance team to choreographing her own routine for the upper school’s 2017 dance production “Circus,” she’s a seasoned veteran of the performing arts. She’s in the dance room for several hours each week, and with all that practice comes the flexibility and precision that define Miranda’s signature dance style. Yet all that practice also comes with a less desirable outcome: bruised knees.

“Striving for flexibility leaves you sore a lot of the time, and a lot of the time it would give me bruised knees,” Miranda said. “I remember specifically sophomore year, I had bruised knees the entire year just from my routines. I never didn’t have a bruise on my knee.”

Miranda’s main impetus to join dance in kindergarten was her older sister, Cordelia. After sitting in the audience of her sister’s performances, immersing herself the glitz and glam of the lower school dance productions and “dancing around” with her family, a young Miranda decided that she wanted to be a part of Harker’s dance program.

Her sister continues to motivate her today as one of Miranda’s most enthusiastic supporters.

“I really wanted to do dance watching my sister in the dance show,” Miranda said. “She’s really supportive of everything that I do-every time I have a dance show, if she can’t [make it], she’ll want to see recordings and she’ll tell me how amazing [the show] is.”

Upon entering fifth grade, Miranda tried out for the dance fusion squad. Miranda credits her fifth grade tryout experience as a pivotal moment in her dance career: she did not make the team, but that didn’t stop her from working unremittingly to improve her technique both in order to grow as a dancer and to claim a spot on the team the following year.

“I didn’t make it, and that really pushed me to try really hard to improve for sixth grade because I really wanted to be on the team,” Miranda said. “I’ve been rejected from every dance team at least once, and that’s had a large impact on motivating me to improve myself.”

Since then, Miranda has never stopped pursuing her passion for dance. From Dance Fusion in sixth grade to Showstoppers in eighth, Miranda’s experience with dance as a middle schooler prepared her for her upper school dance journey. As a sophomore and junior, she was a member of the JV dance team under dance instructor and program director Rachelle Haun, and she currently performs with Varsity under instructor Karl Kuehn.

“She’s one of those students who, when she really wants something, takes the time at home to practice. She has come leaps and bounds since she was a freshman; her technique has improved, her flexibility has improved,” Haun said. “She’s a go-getter, and she’s great to work with.”

Miranda stood by dance for thirteen years for various reasons—her unyielding persistence and her indomitable work ethic among many—but one of the main factors in the pursuit of her passion is the sense of creativity that dance evokes for her.

“You can use your entire body to express yourself, which I think is really unique. It’s not like a lot of other art forms, which aren’t on yourself- they’re physical, on paper,” Miranda said. “But dance is unique because you can use your own body as the medium to portray your emotions.”

According to Miranda, another characteristic that sets the art of dance apart from other creative forms is its timeless essence.

“Dance is unique because it’s fleeting,” Miranda said. “You do the dance once, and it’s done. There are recordings of it, but you can never see it in person again–that’s powerful. People who are there experience it, and everyone else doesn’t — it’s up in the air.”