Student Spotlight: Audrey Wentworth

Student+Spotlight%3A+Audrey+Wentworth

Ingrid Chan , Staff Writer

Fire dancing remains one of the most awe inspiring forms of dance that exists, its use of jumping flames adding an element of danger to the already beautiful movements dancers display.  Despite the risk it poses, junior Audrey Wentworth engages in exactly this type of  perilous art.  

More specifically, her specialty is poi dance, which utilizes long strings with balls attached at the ends.  These balls are often lit on fire or fitted with LED lights, accompanying and accentuating the performer’s movements.  Though poi dancing is considered the more feminine version of fire dancing with sticks, these twirling spheres have grown in popularity.  Now both men and women learn and perform it.

From a young age, Wentworth’s mother urged her to take up dancing as a hobby.  She had always refused until she turned nine, which was when she finally decided to give poi dancing a chance.  Unexpectedly, Wentworth ended up enjoying it so much that she has continued her lessons until now.  To date, she has been poi dancing consistently for seven years.

As a child, she first began dancing at a studio in Chino Hills Center, but because Wentworth was particularly drawn to Polynesian dancing and wanted to focus specifically on it, she soon found another studio in Diamond Bar: the Dellos Dance Studio.

There, she contacted a group of professionals known as the Ohana Polynesian Dancers and has been taking lessons with them every Sunday afternoon for five hours.

“I really wanted to do Polynesian dancing because I was inspired by some of the people my mom knew.  Since these people specialized in Polynesian dancing, they could also more easily introduce new places or events to me,” Wentworth said.

Initially, it had just been her mother who was interested in and insisted on Wentworth dancing, but now her father is more involved than even her mother.  He often helps her dance group create the custom costumes they always use for their performances.  Recently, Audrey herself designed one of the outfits for an upcoming performance they have in San Dimas.  Poi dancers frequently display their talent through solo performances, but Wentworth will be dancing with an entire group in the San Dimas show.

Though performance equipment is quite expensive, with fire poi balls costing as much as $500 and LED balls reaching $200, most of the poi dancers in her studio create their own practice poi balls with yarn, fabric and various stuffings such as newspaper or wool.

“The studio also lets you buy regular poi balls, but everyone likes to do it the cool way, making it yourself. It saves money,” Wentworth said.

Polynesian dancing is divided into three groups: Kaike for beginners, Maile for intermediate, and Tiare for advanced dancers.  

Wentworth expects to advance to Tiare sometime in her senior year.

She also helps instruct the younger dancers and plans to do poi dancing as a side job when she is older – since she already has plenty of experience performing at festivals and recitals.

“I’m definitely going to keep practicing it even if I might not have time to take lessons in the future because of college, money, or jobs,” Wentworth said. “It’s a skill I don’t want to lose.”