Student of the Month – Maya Kurzman

What companies/classes are you currently in?

I am part of the TapCATS company, although I also study ballet with Lainie, and jazz and lyrical with Tori. Additionally, I am taking Acting with Stephen.


When did you start at Center Stage?

I began dancing at Center Stage in 2009, after my family moved to New Jersey from Connecticut in 2008.


Do you remember your first dance routine?

I don’t remember the name of my first dance routine from Connecticut, although it was a song about a baker making bread. My first dance routines at Center Stage were Party in the USA with Sue, and The Race with Pam.


What was your Center Stage journey?

After coming to Center Stage in fifth grade, I auditioned for company and was a Jaguar for the next two years. In eighth grade, I did not compete and took normal classes since I knew I would be away during competition season. Looking back, I am glad that I took this year off, because in ninth grade I decided to transition to tap company, where I feel I have grown most as a dancer. While I know that many people do tap and jazz company, I decided this was too much of a commitment, which is why I felt the need to choose one over the other.


Why has it been worth all of the energy you’ve put in to it and the sacrifices you’ve made?

Dance has provided me an outlet to express myself through a constructive medium. It has been quite enlightening to watch myself grow and mature as a person through dance. I have also enjoyed watching those around me grow and mature, whether they are teens whom I take classes with, or younger kids who I have assisted in the past. I have learned how to work well with others and how to be part of a team. Furthermore, having such a rigid dance schedule every week brought a consistency to my extracurricular life; even though the past couple of years have been somewhat tumultuous for me, I can always count on my dance and acting classes to bring me back to my weekly routine.

On another note, last year, when I was taking physics, I figured out how all of the kinematics that I was learning related to dance. So in short, dance helped me learn science.


Do you do other outside of school activities?

Very much, yes. Most notably, I am quite involved in USY, a Jewish youth group that I have come to love and appreciate as much as Center Stage. If I am not at Center Stage, chances are I’m at a USY program or planning future events. In fact, I make sure I complete all of my homework during my breaks at dance so that I can go home and do USY work for the rest of the night. Through USY, I have developed skills that enabled me to grow as a leader. I have also become involved in the greater Jewish community through the Jewish Federation and various community service opportunities that the organization offers.


What’s your favorite movie and why?

Oh wow, I don’t think I can pick just one. I still love High School Musical, because it reminds me so much of my childhood. During the last snow day, I actually watched all three of them (I still have yet to see Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure), and as a senior I gained an appreciation for the third movie, which I had previously been my least favorite of the three. Recently, I’ve greatly enjoyed Blended. I’m not going to try to explain it because I am really bad at describing plots, but 10/10 recommend.


First celebrity crush?

My first celebrity crush was Zac Efron, from when he was in High School Musical.


First Broadway show?

The first Broadway show I remember seeing was The Lion King. My grandparents took me and my sister to see it for our birthdays! I was extremely impressed by all the props they used for all of the animals.


Favorite Broadway show?

The Lion King might also be my favorite Broadway show. Recently, I have also seen Once, and I really enjoyed the use of instruments throughout the musical.


Favorite food?

Pasta, hands down. Every day after school, I cook one cup of pasta for precisely eight minutes, and then I add a tablespoon of tomato sauce and a slice of mozzarella cheese. Then, I microwave it for two minutes so the cheese melts. Pasta, Sauce, and Cheese has been a staple to my diet since second grade.


TV Show you’re embarrassed to admit you used to watch?

There is no such thing as a show that I’m embarrassed to watch, however, for certain shows, I would not like to admit how much I watch them (i.e. Say Yes to the Dress).


If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

I would definitely be a unicorn. I pride myself in being a weird, unique individual. Also, I love unicorns, and in the past year, I have developed a substantial collection of unicorn apparel (including a unicorn onesie, with a horn and a tail)!


When do you remember laughing the hardest?

While there are many instances where I laugh so hard I start crying, one particular instance happened when my family was in Florida for the dance competition this summer. We went to Walgreens to get ice cream because, well, we wanted ice cream, and they had this whole display of rubber toy pigs that if you squeezed them, they made a really loud honk/oink sound. I took one of these pigs, put it really close to my sister’s ear, and squeezed it. She was so startled, and I laughed so hard that I ended up on the floor. Fortunately, the rest of my family joined in on the laughter, and it was more funny than harmful. Two nights later, when we went back for more ice cream and Kit Kats (a Kurzman dessert staple), I found the pigs again and followed my mom, my dad, and my sister around with it. We were all so amused that my parents let me get one; his name is Swine Blu (get it, like Swine Flu?) and he now lives on my dresser.


If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be?

I would want to have dinner with Victor Frankl. Frankl was a Jewish philosopher who lived through the Holocaust. He developed a concept called logotherapy, also known as a “will to meaning.” Frankl argued that it was a person’s ultimate goal to find meaning in life. Frankl wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing… [the freedom to] choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” Given the opportunity, Frankl would have been a phenomenal motivational speaker because of all of the hardships he experienced, while maintaining a positive outlook on life.


What’s next? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Next year, I will be attending Tufts University, where I plan on studying Biomedical Engineering, specifically biomechanics. Although I have been able to participate in dance classes for about fifteen years now, there are so many other individuals who are unable to do so because of various disabilities. My ultimate goal is to create prosthetics and other assistive devices to give people the gift of mobility that I have taken for granted my whole life.


Will you come back to visit Center Stage, or are you gone for good when you’re out the door?

Of course I plan on visiting! I’m already looking forward to coming home for Rosh Hashanah – even if Center Stage is closed, I can always count on seeing Jonathan during High Holiday services!