Elizabeth Daly

Dancing queen:

Freshman Elizabeth Daly branched out from years of dance training to pursue a dance and theater at LCCC.

Photo by Brooke A. Rogers

Posted on April 28, 2014

Staying on pointe

Theater student has
a tendency to keep on her toes

Ever since Elizabeth Daly was 9-years-old, she’s wanted to be a ballerina.

Now, a decade later, Daly is an assistant instructor at En Avant, the studio where she’s been dancing since the beginning, and a dance and theater major at Laramie County Community College.

Bobbing her foot up and down, Daly, 19, sits in one of the armchairs on the third floor of the Laramie County Library near a window overlooking Pioneer Avenue, one leg crossed over the other. Years of instruction have taught her to keep her back straight, her chin high.

“Dance makes me feel free,” Daly said. “It’s a way out, I feel. You can just put on music and move anyway that you want to. It’s a good way to let go of the everyday stuff and be somewhere different.”

She laughed as she recounted why she began dancing. “You know when you were younger and said, ‘I want to be like that when I grow up’?” Daly asked. “A friend of mine danced. I went and saw her performance, and I remember telling my mom, ‘I want to dance like that.’”

Traveling Daly

Because her father was in the military, Daly was born in Panama City, Panama. Her family moved to Germany when she was 3, and then the United States. “It was exciting, moving around a lot,” Daly said.

Her parents decided to homeschool Daly and her six siblings. “Having a lot of siblings made homeschooling a lot easier,” Daly said. “I remember how fun it was, and how hectic it was. It was cramped. My sister and I used to share a room.”

Daly said one of her favorite memories of her childhood was Christmas Eve at the Daly household. “Everyone was together then,” Daly said. “We would stay up late, sometimes until midnight or 1 a.m.” Growing up in a big family bonded Daly with her younger sister, Abby. “We’re very close. Best friends,” Abby said. “She’s an amazing person, kind-spirited. The kind of person you just want to get to know more and more.”

Daly’s love of dance rubbed off on her three younger siblings who now dance at the studio where Daly teaches. “Possibly, me doing it first opened up the doors so they weren’t afraid going into it,” Daly said.

Her younger brothers, Caleb and Jonathan, love tap and hip-hop, respectively, Daly said. Abby branched off from traditional forms of dance to pursue aerial hoop, a genre that requires dancers to contort and flow through a hoop suspended in the air. “I love seeing how we all have different personalities and what we all like. We all like different dance genres,” Daly said.

At first, Daly took only ballet, but soon began to appreciate other dance styles-the attitude of hip-hop, the upbeat feeling of jazz and the freedom of lyric and modern. At one point, Daly was taking six dance classes a week, including jazz, hip-hop, pointe, ballet and lyrical. Although she has been in ballet the longest, lyrical is Daly’s favorite dance genre. Lyrical is a blend of ballet and jazz that focuses particularly on the words of a song, then interprets them into dance.

“Lyrical, I feel, has more freedom of movement,” Daly said. “Ballet is built a certain way. There are lots of rules about how you hold your body. Lyrical doesn’t break the rules, but it bends them.”

When she was a senior in high school, Daly became captain of the Central High School dance team and encouraged her sister Abby to join. “My mom says I used to be like a little turtle, never coming out of my shell, never talking to anybody,” Abby said. “[Dance team] is what got me out of my shell.”

Once she graduated, Daly was offered a job teaching at En Avant. She said she enjoys teaching because she believes the world has lost touch of its love of dance and movement. “I love being able to teach children and see the looks on their faces when you put on music,” Daly said. “Being able to show kids that you don’t have to be a certain way or move a certain way, moving is a good thing to do.”

Life at LCCC, future plans

When Daly began attending LCCC, her father encouraged her to take theater. “I had watched a lot of theater through Central,” Daly said. “I always thought it would be super fun to not only be able to dance but act.” Daly began taking acting classes, including unarmed combat, which teaches students how to “fight” someone onstage without harming them.

“I fell in love with acting as well,” Daly said. “I changed my major to not only dance but dance and theater.” Daly said she plans on auditioning for LCCC’s fall theater productions. “I’d never done theater before last fall,” Daly said. “I hope to get some experience in.”

Daly said it would be exciting to be performing professionally, but ultimately she wants to teach dance and possibly own her own studio one day. “You don’t need a certain body type or even a lot of rhythm to dance,” Daly said. “I want to show people how fun it can be.”
Daly said she plans on attending the University of Wyoming after LCCC, in part, because some of her former dance teachers are affiliated with the program at UW. “Their dance program is fantastic,” Daly said.

After the questions are done, Daly ties up her well-worn pointe shoes with experienced hands. There is a certain art to tying pointe shoes, and Daly knows it well. She stands in the American history aisle, feet popping up and down as she expertly changes from first position to fifth and back again. She naturally flows into an arabesque and then into a grand battement. For her, it looks like breathing. She might be branching out to pursue other dreams, but Daly is a dancer, through and through. The journey she began when she was 9-years-old hasn’t ended for Daly, and if she has her way, it won’t be ending anytime soon.

En Avant website