Ciara Grandberry stretches her body into a right split, legs flat against the floor and toes pointed. She holds.
Grandberry switches to her left split, legs flat and toes pointed. She holds.
She stretches one final time, spreading to the center, legs taut. She holds.
Grandberry does these stretches before every dance practice and dance performance. It’s a routine she’s gotten into since she started dancing at age 3.
She describes dance as being life itself and nothing less.
“It’s just what I do,” she said.
Grandberry, a rising junior from Memphis, is on Central High School’s dance team.
Her favorite dance style is hip hop, but she is not a fan of styles such as ballet and jazz, which she describes as soft and slow.
“Hip-hop is fun,” she said. “It’s fun, it’s fast, energetic.”
Ballet and jazz, she said, are not her.
“I don’t really care for jazz and ballet,” she said, “I do it, but don’t like it.”
Normally, Grandberry never leaves home without a smile. She said she’s goofy, always laughing and energetically bouncing across rooms.
When she’s dancing, however, her bubbly, charismatic personality turns serious.
“A lot of people say I be frowning because I be so serious with it.” she said. But she isn’t frowning out of frustration. She is focused. She’s in the zone. One of Grandberry’s friends, Rodnesha McNeal, said dance allowed her to be free.
“It helps bring out the inner her,” she said.
The two have gone to the same high school for almost three years.
“She’s great, amazing actually, ” McNeal said of her friend.
Dance is Grandberry’s biggest stress reliever. It helps her deal with various emotions and has shaped her personality off the dance floor.
“When I come back from dancing, I’m in a good mood,” she said.
Support from her family, Grandberry said, isn’t always consistent. Some family members can’t always or don’t attend her performances. Her mother and siblings, however, always try to attend her shows. Her mother also supports her dancing endeavors financially.
“She pays for everything,” she said.
She said that her mother buys expensive equipment, such as sports bras, bags, shorts, pants and shoes. That comes up to an estimated $3,000, Grandberry said. “Without her, I couldn’t do it at all.”
In the future Grandberry said she wants to pursue a career in forensics “because I love finding out new things about the body.”
However, she wants dance to stay part of her life. She wants to also have a part-time job as a dance teacher “because I like it,” she said as her eyes brightened and smile widened.