Navigating the unknown waters of the professional dance world can be scary. Meet Ava Adinolfi. Ava, a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, has a mission: to help guide young dancers from Point A to Point B by identifying goals and figuring out how to make them happen.
Ava remembers her passion for dancing beginning as a child. She was watching the movie Grease, and she would dance to the songs in the movie. Her grandmother watched as little Ava moved to the music and saw the passion in her eyes. It wasn't long before her grandmother enrolled her in dance classes. Ava has spent 20 years studying ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, and tap.
" Dance makes me feel endless and complete all at the same time. Dance allows me to let go and just feel. It is a way to express myself and connect with others. It is home. " - Ava Adinolfi
Ava knew she wanted to take her passion to help others. Today, Ava works with various groups of women, dance lovers and creatives guiding them to their dreams by showing them how to tackle the obstacles on the way. She offers one-on-one coaching sessions, workshops at studios and schools, and even has a video series, "I Love Dance… Now What?" Through this work, she hopes to bring dancers inspiration, clarity, permission to dream and a safe place to fully express themselves. We explored more of Ava's passion of dance and being a life coach in this exclusive one-on-one interview.
The biggest challenge for me growing up in dance was transferring studios and realizing that I had picked up a lot of bad habits from poor training. I had to completely retrain my body and my mind. Today, I see it as a gift because it makes me a better dance instructor. Teaching with integrity is one of my highest values because of that experience.
" I overcame this by taking as many classes as I could and by finding compassion for myself when I did mess up or go back to old habits. I had to learn that I was only going to get better if I was willing to fall and mess up. "
I think we all need it! I would say dancers need more guidance because they live highly focused and passionate lives. As a result, a lot of other areas of life can easily be lost or forgotten but they are also important. I find that a lot of dancers, whether they are in training or professional, are very stressed and have difficulty managing work-life balance. How do I go to school, take dance classes, rehearse, perform, do homework, have friends, spend time with family, sleep and take care of myself? Ah! That is a lot to do and most of the time anything that isn’t dance related gets dropped off of the list. However, we need to spend time with our family and we need to develop self-care practices so that we don’t burn out. We need the guidance and support to get there.
"I Love Dance...Now What?" is a video series of interviews where people in the dance industry share how they came to be where they are today. I have always been curious about how people come to have their careers or life missions. I remember my own struggles with finding what it was I wanted to do as a career and the various ways that I could make dance part of that journey. I thought it would be helpful for dancers in the studio to have some insight into other dancers' paths to help them start to navigate their own. They can check it out at www.ilovedancenowwhat.com. There is a free video posted with Emmy-nominated choreographer Brian Thomas and the other videos are available for purchase.
You are more powerful than you think you are! Possibilities are endless, so don’t let others get in your head when making decisions for your life. You are the one that has to live it. Surround yourself with only things and people that you love and bring you great joy. Play every day. Know that you are enough and that the world needs your gifts. Don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of sharing your gifts with the world because we need them! I would like to see more balance in the lives of young dancers. I would like to see more support and camaraderie, where it is less about competition and more about rising up together.
I always wanted to please my teachers and do a great job for them. That desire led to fear of not being good enough or messing up. This is something I still struggle with as fear never truly leaves us. So when it comes to taking class, I remind myself that falling is part of succeeding and that if I want my moment bad enough then the fear won’t matter. I focus on how much I need to dance and have movement in my life and the fear dissipates.
" I have found that the best tool to crush fear is to make my desire for something so big that my fear doesn’t matter. "
The best advice I recieved was that the choices I make mean something. Whether it is a choice in how I execute choreography, how I choose to show up on stage or in class, or the choices I make in life, they have power. I was taught to be really aware of the choices that I make and it is one of the best lessons I have ever learned for life and for dance.
This is funny because the more I tried to figure it out the harder it got. When I let go of trying to control everything and let go of planning out every little detail that's when the magic happened. I really had to learn, trust and believe the possibilities and opportunities were out there. Suddenly, I could invision them for me. That was only possible because of the support system I had in my friends, family, a coach and most importantly a sisterhood (a group of women dedicated to supporting each other). Countless people have inspired me, but some who stand out are my Gram, Denise Wall, my fiery niece Peyton and Sora Surya No.
Favorite exercise at the barre? Rond de jambe
Favorite dance snack? Trail Mix
What's on your iPod right now? Keaton Henson, Hozier, Active Child, London Grammar, James Bay, Emma Louise, Nina Nesbitt