BY ANASTASIA ZOLOTOVA
When Carmel High’s bell rings at 3 p.m., students are already moving on to sports, clubs and homework. However, the bell signals the start of another off-campus work day for junior Madison Hart: teaching ballet, taking lessons and fulfilling her responsibilities as a student board member of Dance Kids Monterey County and an admin of their Instagram account.
“I take…” Hart pauses, counting them off on her fingers, “between seven to eight classes a week, and I have rehearsals in addition to that.”
Hart dedicates at least 30-40 hours a week to dance. Her basic responsibilities as a teacher and board member boil down to this: “If anyone needs anything, I go and do it.”
As for how she manages such a demanding lifestyle?
Hart bursts into laughter, admitting that it’s hard to keep the balance between school and dance. “I don’t. Well, I wouldn’t recommend this method, but you don’t sleep,” she deadpans. “You have to make it work for yourself. You have to determine what your priorities are. Dance is what I want to be doing…so I have to make time for myself to do what I love.”
One of these priorities is the Nutcracker ballet. As many CHS students know, Dance Kids puts on the annual ballet at Carmel’s Sunset Center for over 2,300 people. Not only does Hart participate in the ballet herself and assist rehearsals, she spearheads the fundraising effort for the ballet’s live orchestra and choir.
Sandra Burnham, Hart’s teacher of five years at the Carmel Academy of Performing Arts, relates, “Her continued hard work and dedication has made her what she is today.”
Hart has been dancing for almost all her life at CAPA, but only started to dance seriously when she was 10. In the short time since, the aspiring dancer has established herself as a pillar of the Monterey County dance community.
Burnham emphasizes the impact Hart has on her fellow dancers.
“Madison is very popular with younger dancers, many of whom have been taught by her,” Burnham comments. “[They] certainly look up to her.”
Fellow dancer and junior Maria Botha, who began dancing with Hart this past summer and offers an outside perspective, elaborates on how Hart is not only a role model to her students, but to other high-school-age dancers.
“She’s very inspirational,” Botha says, “because she’s only been dancing for a few years, and she’s very expressive. She performs with everything she has.”
But after stripping away the more business end of ballet, there is ballet itself. And for Hart, it is worth all the time and effort.
“I absolutely love it. You get to a point where it just becomes simple, how you can take yourself and put it into a movement, and it’s like…” Hart trails off. “Ah, I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just about what you have inside of yourself and how you show it.”
While many students are still figuring out what their passions are and what they want to do after high school, it’s clear that Madison Hart has it all figured out.