Christian Dudley takes love of dance from gym floor to hardwood for basketball season

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Christian Dudley takes love of dance from gym floor to hardwood for basketball season

Joselyn Rivera, Staff Writer

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Senior Christian Dudley started dancing at eight years old and enrolled at 20 Point Academy of Dance after beginning dance. There, he danced for six years and knew dance was for him right away. After that, Dudley started dancing in middle school and all throughout high school. Besides dancing, Dudley’s also danced in musicals and performances. Before coming into high school Dudley played basketball in middle school. However, knowing his true passion was and always will be dance, he decided to stop and stick to dancing.

“I was around five or six when my parents noticed I was very jittery and very active. I just liked to move around and dance a lot so they enrolled me in my first dance class. I liked it right off the bat,” Dudley said.

Dudley got plenty of support from friends, family and the varsity cheer squad. Teachers like Vivian Hernandez, Jeff Leistner, Chaevon Latham and his mother as well have been his number one fans and supported Dudley through the years.

Latham has been Dudley’s dance teacher for four years now. Their relationship has grown to a whole new level. Instead of viewing each other as student and teacher they now view each other as something more. Dudley views Latham as a second mother, his mother in the building. Dudley confides in her, telling her his troubles and accomplishments. Latham too sees Dudley as more than a student and tries her best to guide him in the right direction by giving him advice she would even give her own children.

Latham first met Dudley his freshman year. Latham saw the amount of energy he brought in when he first walked into her classroom. That memory is something that really kicked off their relationship and plays a big role in why they are so close today.

“Christian came in being himself. He was just really excited and ready to go and I remember thinking to myself who is this kid that is so excited about dance and just getting to know him his first year is something that really helped us connect,” Latham said. “Christian has been in advance since freshman year. So he’s been in advanced level for all four years. From day one I said we definitely have to move him up because he wouldn’t have been as successful as he is now if he would’ve stayed in beginning. He would’ve been bored”

Using his love of dance, Dudley took his love of dance to the hardwood by joining the cheerleading squad for the basketball season. Head Cheer Coach Jenn Sahagun believes Dudley adds a crucial level of support for the squad this season.

“Christian is just a great support system for the fellow cheerleaders. He’s always very positive and upbeat and he brings about a good vibe to our program as well. So right there anytime you have an athlete that is a good support system for a team it just makes everyone enjoy the sport even more. He’s great he really looks out for the squad and he’s always caring and compassionate and really wanting us to go out there and be the best that we can be. He brings about this great amount of energy and talent,” Sahagun said.

Close friends describe Dudley as a very caring and compassionate person, someone who can really turn your frown upside down. He brings a great amount of energy along with a very positive attitude. Dudley would also be described as a perfectionist and someone who wants everything that he does to be perfect and he will not stop until he gets there.

“He’s always been really good at everything that he’s been in,” senior and friend Jaenette Rodriguez said.

Dudley has experience in many things but according to others, tumbling may top it all. Tumbling is a form of gymnastics and unlike many others it is performed without the use of props.The art of tumbling requires both strength and flexibility. Dudley’s tumbling level has drawn attention from both teammates and Sahagun.

“Christian is a phenomenal tumbler so he brings that aspect which is always something that gets the crowd excited,” Sahagun said.

His teammates view his tumbling as a valuable addition to the squad, giving them more flexibility with their cheers.

“He’s a really good tumbler so we actually have a lot more tumbling going on with the team and stuff like that so it’s a lot of more tricks when we cheer and stuff like that. We’re going to state this weekend so it’s going to be really good with him there being able to tumble and show off some more,” Rodriguez said.  

While Dudley shares all these qualities and skills, Dudley holds himself to the highest level, never settling for less than his best, something Latham has seen in her time working with him.

“I think, sometimes when Christian doesn’t feel like he has done his best he gets really hard on himself sometimes and then sometimes I have to just pull him to the side and calm him down and let him know that there’s always other opportunities to do it better so don’t be so hard on yourself. Use it as a learning lesson to come back next time and do better and take correction that people give you and apply it to make yourself an even better dancer,” Latham said.  

Dudley uses the lessons Latham teaches him and puts him to use so that whenever he does receive a no he knows to work better and eventually reach his goal.

“I’ve taken no for an answer with other things besides cheerleading since it was my first time trying out. But I realized taking no for an answer just makes me stronger. When I get a no I always push myself to go back and keep trying until I get the answer that I want” said Dudley.

Latham views Dudley’s work ethic as unique and one of a kind, citing his attention to detail as something that sets him apart.

“Christian can be very hard on himself if he feels like he made a mistake because he likes to do things perfectly, he likes perfection,” Latham said. “I don’t see this in a lot of dancers but there are quite a few that do want to make sure that they do things exactly how it was given to them. They want to make sure that they do choreography perfectly and they want to make sure that they are doing exactly what they set out to do which is give a good performance or even with cheerleading. I know he wanted to get everything right, he wanted to get his jumps right he wanted to get his tumbling right, he wanted to get his motions, everything to be perfect because he really wanted to make the team”.

Dudley also sees himself as competitive, pushing himself to the highest level.

“I’ve always wanted to be the best of the best, I’m very competitive in everything that I do,” Dudley said.

Dudley is a very outgoing, hardworking, and a very driven person especially towards dance. However, having all these traits didn’t take away his fear of whether or not he’d make the squad. Due to his skills and enthusiastic personality, Dudley captured a spot on the squad, exciting himself and many members of the team.

“I was very excited for him, seeing that cheer was one of my backgrounds. I cheered in high school and college and so I’m very versed in cheerleading, I was excited for him to do it I thought it would be a great new task for him to conquer and I knew he would enjoy it because cheering was a great experience for me so I knew it would be a great experience for him especially doing it with friends and at your school, that you’ve been at for four years and I was willing to do anything that I could to help him make the team”.

When anybody is struggling on reaching their goals and needing motivation Dudley has advice for anyone in similar positions.

“You just have to push yourself and go in with a positive mindset, you also have to be willing to take no for an answer,” Dudley said.

One quality that Dudley has which his mentors and peers enjoy is his confidence. Dudley believes his confidence comes from his attitude and always tries to remain positive.

“I’m a firm believer in if you think you’re the best then you’ll dance the best. Good things come with a good attitude,” Dudley said.

In the future, Dudley plans to continue his career in dancing. These experiences at LN with his dancing career have taught him a lot.

“After high school I plan on going to LA, go to american musical and dramatics academy, to major in dance and then after that look for a professional job that I could get,” Dudley said. “When you rest you rest.”