Student Spotlight! – Olivia Conner-Bennett

What companies/classes are you currently in?
Tuesday’s Sam- Jazz/Hip Hop and Lyrical Competition. Ballet with Anne Krug.
Wednesday’s Ballet with Lanie and JAZZ CAT Production with Tori
Another lyrical competition piece with Danielle Mondi

When did you start at Center Stage?
5th grade ( i think)

Do you remember your first dance routine?
It was definitely a jazz number with Danielle, something with hula hoops but I do not remember the name.

What was your Center Stage journey?
I started probably around age 10 with voice lessons in the back room at the ocean studio, and moved towards acting with Tannis for a couple years. I soon thought dance looked really interesting and fun and I wanted to partake in it. So I decided to take just one dance class, jazz/hip hop, and I really liked it. I saw other people doing more types of dance and thought that they looked intriguing as well. I wanted to try and dedicate my time to learning the other styles of dance. I soon started doing lyrical, ballet, and jazz/hip hop and really enjoyed it. I even assisted a jazz/hip hop class last year which I thought provided me great leadership skills. From there I just kept working hard and growing as a dancer, and going to Marlboro helped me push myself. I have learned my strengths and weaknesses throughout my journey which has motivated me further.

Though you’ve taken some classes at other Center Stage studios, most of your time has been at the Ocean studio.  Can you describe how Ocean feels different than other studios?
Ocean is much smaller but it makes us all much more intimate. There are less people which means we can develop closer connections. All the teachers truly care about each student and pays attention to us all individually, which I think is especially apparent at Ocean. I think because of its proximity and familiar feeling, I have grown extremely comfortable here.

How has growing up near the shore been different than you think it would be in other parts of New Jersey?
It is definitely a benefit. Summers are always the most fun, being able to bike to the beach from my house. I could not imagine not being 5 minutes away from the ocean. The Asbury boardwalk is one of my favorite places to go. I also feel like it provides an artistic outlet, for photography, as well as a way to exercise on the beach. I feel like it just provides so many more opportunities for fun outings and creativity than would other parts of New Jersey.

Why has it been worth all of the energy you’ve put in to it and the sacrifices you’ve made?
To see the progress I have made, and to create confidence in myself, which is extremely important in life. I found something that gives me a purpose and motivation to prove my abilities. Hard work pays off and realizing my improvements is a great feeling. It is important to have a passion in life or else there is no point. It pushes you to keep going everyday and gives you a heightened sense of happiness and determination from the emotional aspect of it all when you perform a dance.

Do you do other outside of school activities?
I take singing lessons and have been since before I started dance. I play the guitar, ukulele, and piano. I did swim for a year but stopped. I work on the boardwalk during the summer.

What’s your favorite movie and why?
That is so hard wow. If I had to choose, probably Aquamarine, because it reminds me of summer. I can definitely say that Friends is my favorite TV show though, having seen it about 10 times.

Who are your heroes and why?
My mothers, because they are so intelligent and empowering. They have so much determination in life and succeed in everything they set their minds to. They are also extremely caring towards their loved ones. Also actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Cara Delevingne because they are such strong female role models and stand up for what they believe in, not caring how others react.

Favorite food?
I am vegan, so I love vegan pizza.

First celebrity crush?
Cole Sprouse, since his Disney channel days.

TV Show you’re embarrassed to admit you used to watch?
Probably Toddlers & Tiaras, or basically anything on TLC.

When they make a movie out of your life, who would you like to see play you?
Dakota Fanning

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

What’s next?
As of right now I do not know where I am going to college, as I am still waiting to hear back from several, but I intend to go to law school after college. In college, I want to major in something science related, like forensic science or environmental science, or perhaps a nutritional science or psychology. Definitely a minor in some kind of psychology.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully graduated from law school with a successful job that I love. I hope I do not forget about my artistic passions, and still participate in them whenever possible. Maybe I will be married and living in a house as well. I will definitely own a dog.

Will you come back to visit Center Stage, or are you gone for good when you’re out the door?
I definitely want to visit while I am in college, whenever I have breaks. I hope to never lose touch. I would love to help out whenever I can in the future at the Ocean studio.