May 1, 2015
Kenna Priore, a senior at Sandra Day O’Connor High School in Helotes, Texas, is dancing to her dream of becoming the director of a high school dance team.
Priore, who is 18 years old, was recently chosen out of 140 women to be a Strutter for Texas State University in the upcoming fall; however, her passion for dance began early in high school, and now she wants to help others succeed in dance at the place where it all started for her.
“It wasn’t until I tried out for dance team my freshman year and didn’t make it that I realized I loved. . . [dancing], and at that point I knew I wanted to continue to improve and become a dancer,” Priore said. “After not making it my first year, I was inspired to work even harder and be the best I could be.”
Priore persevered and landed a spot on the dance team by her junior year of high school. By her senior year, she was co-captain.
The captains and co-captains of the Sandra Day O’Connor High School dance team make up the dance routines for competitions. During her time there, Priore gained experience in various styles of dancing, including jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, novelty, contemporary, and open dance.
Being co-captain of her high school dance team was not just an experience that helped Priore land her spot on the Texas State Strutters dance team, but also a great lesson in time management. Priore’s high school dance team held practice every day from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., and every weekend in the fall, Priore was required to perform at the football games.
“I know it is [going to be] a much bigger commitment and time consumer in college,” Priore said. “Strutters attend . . . basketball games as well [as football]. Not to mention the dances will be harder, and the talent much stronger.”
The audition process for the Texas State Strutters was a memorable experience for both Priore and her mother, Karyn Barnett.
“I really didn’t know what to expect with the Strutter audition,” Barnett said. “After the audition, they came to gather us to meet up with the girls. When she came back with tears in her eyes, my heart sank, until she said, ‘Mom, I think I made it.’ I started crying, like I do when I’m proud. It was a good drive home that day.”
Priore will start her Strutters training, as well as her freshman year of college, at Texas State in the fall. She has already declared a major in dance, a choice Barnett found difficult to accept at first.
“Initially, I was unsure if being a dance major was a good decision,” Barnett said. “[I was] wondering if she’ll support herself, find a job after college . . . Then, by God’s grace, I learned to relax . . . I mean, really, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do for life at the age of 18.”
Priore said she hopes to be directing a high school dance team in ten years. Barnett said she sees her daughter teaching dance at a public high school while saving toward opening her own dance studio.
In less than two months, Priore will be walking across the stage at her high school graduation. In August, she will be living away from home for the first time, experiencing college and making lasting memories as a Texas State Strutter.
When asked if dance was a hobby or a passion to her, Priore had an entirely different answer.
“Dancing is my life; it’s my lifestyle,” Priore said. “It’s the only thing I know better than the back of my hand. I simply cannot picture my life without dance in it, and it’s the only thing I can do for hours upon hours and not grow weary of.”
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