Student Spotlight: Peyton Avery

Cindy Liu , Asst. News Editor

Diamond Bar High School sophomore Peyton Avery was born without the full use of her left arm, yet nobody would know from watching her dance. Avery was born with Erb’s Palsy, a condition that prevents her from fully straightening her arm, but that didn’t prevent her from pursuing her passion.

“Dance has always just been there for me,” Avery said. “Especially when I’m feeling emotional or I can’t say stuff, dance has always been there.”

Avery started dancing at age two at the Fine Arts Academy of Dance in Diamond Bar, then later moved to train at the Cutting Edge Dance Center in Pomona. Over the years, she has danced jazz, lyrical and modern, but mainly focuses on hip-hop with contemporary.

“I feel like with hip-hop, you can do anything with it,” Avery said. “You can add different styles with it, like contemporary, which is what I do.”

Dance is not only her passion but a form of physical therapy as well. Avery has a severe form of Erb’s Palsy; for the first six months of her life, she was unable to move her arm. After extensive physical therapy, she’s now able to move her arm but still experiences difficulties with fully straightening and maneuvering it.

Aside from its physical benefits, dancing while having Erb’s Palsy pushed Avery to be mentally stronger.

“Mentality is really big on me now, because when I was little, I was always like ‘I’m that weird kid who can’t do that,’ and even to this day, I’m still like ‘man, I wish I could do that,” but I stopped saying ‘wish’ and started saying ‘I will,’”Avery said.

Roughly a year ago, Avery joined the Movement Talent Agency, which introduced her to new professional opportunities. The agency provides her with chances to attend auditions for events ranging from music videos to various advertisements.

“I’ve auditioned for about three or four talent agencies,” Avery said. “I didn’t make any of them, and I was at the point like ‘I give up,’” and the last one, which was the Movement Talent Agency, I was like ‘you know what? I’m just going to go out there and see what happens’ and I made it.”

Although she hasn’t participated in any major projects yet, she hopes she will have the chance for more opportunities as she gets older.

At DBHS, Avery is involved in the school’s Dance Company. As a lieutenant, some of her duties include assisting the co-captains and captains in managing the dancers and helping choreograph dances for rallies and competitions. Additionally, she is part of the Small and Medium Coed, Small and Medium Female Hip Hop, Small and Medium Lyrical/Contemporary and the Extra Small competition groups in the Dance Company.

“She is [a] versatile [and] strong performer,” DBHS dance coach Kari Simonson said. “She has a way of engaging the audience.”

Outside of school, Avery is a part of GRaVy Babies, a hip-hop club and dance team well known by dancers within the DBHS community. With practices sometimes lasting up to 12 hours, Avery stresses the importance of working out to maintain her fitness levels so she can keep up with the physical demands of dancing.

Performing Elliot Moss’s “High Speeds” for her competition solo last year was one of Avery’s most memorable dance experiences.

“It was very emotional for me because it was for my auntie, who had passed away at 30 years old,” Avery said. “That song always reminded me of her just because it’s talking about traveling [and] moving away…it’s always there with me.”