Kiyomi Klonowski is a freshman at Santa Barbara High School with a passion for the art of dance. Kiyomi dances at multiple dance studios as well as with Santa Barbara High School’s own dance team.
Kiyomi first started doing basic dance lessons at eight months old when her preschool teacher suggested to her mom to sign her up. She took her first ballet class at three years old.. “From there, I tried out hip-hop and that’s my favorite style of dance, but I still do a lot of ballet,” Kiyomi said. She also does a lot of contemporary, jazz, and tap dance. Regarding the differences in styles she said, “Ballet is more classical and very much about posture and form and how you look” and “Hip-Hop is more about how you feel when you’re dancing and is more fun and free. Jazz and contemporary have a lot more technique and different forms of ballet.”
Kiyomi dances competitively and said that she competes, “Every other month during the school year.” She said “I have about five dances, two Hip-Hop dances, one duet and one large group dance, one tap duet and one large group dance, and a contemporary piece.” Kiyomi then said that she competes with multiple advanced dance companies in her age group and said “our dance company is pretty small and not as well known, but we’ve been getting better and better and so when we go out into Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area we want to be more known by the bigger companies and studios.”
Kiyomi says she most likely won’t pursue dance professionally. She said, “you have to start really young and put yourself out there. People still tell me that I should go out and be a professional but I don’t know if that’s something I want. This is more fun for me.” However, she says, “there was a time when I was in elementary school I went down to L.A. a lot and I went up twice a week because I had rehearsals Wednesdays and Sundays.” She describes the rehearsals as intense and says they helped her introduce her to the world of what it’s like to dance in a setting such as L.A. and in an environment where they take dance extremely seriously.
She said she has faced some difficulties in her dance career, and that, “you may not like the way you dance and you see others out there that are amazing. But I have learned that there are so many things about myself that are really powerful when I dance that overshadow any doubts I had about myself before, and it’s more inspiring to say, ‘I wanna be like those people now’ instead of saying, ‘Oh, I don’t like the way I dance.’”
When asked about her favorite experience revolving around dancing, Kiyomi responded with, “Going to this Hip-Hop competition down in L.A. it was one of my first ever competitions and I was with a group of older kids.” Kiyomi said she was the youngest at eleven while the average age for the competition was between fourteen and seventeen. She said, “We had this thing called ‘hell week’ the week before which consisted of eight hour rehearsals for an entire week. I was only in thirty seconds of a six minute dance. I was trying really hard and they finally noticed me and put me in the full ending piece of the dance which was really exciting for me […] The experience was great and even though we didn’t win, we did amazing in my opinion.”
Besides dancing, Kiyomi enjoys drawing, sketching, and glass painting and is currently enrolled in the Multimedia Arts and Design Academy at SBHS. She also finds interest in software design and web design and possibly sees those as future opportunities for careers. However, she says it is too early to tell because she is still a freshman.
[Image Credit Kiyomi Klonowski]