Minnesota dancer Annie Keiper shares why she dances

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Annie Keiper - Dancers of Minnesota. Photo by Matt Blewett/Matte B Photography for My Story Minnesota
Annie Keiper – Photo by Matt Blewett

Meet Annie Keiper, our first spotlight dancer.  I (Matt) met Annie two years ago at the Miss Dance Team Minnesota auditions.  Her electric smile and the graceful precision she danced with earned her a spot on the Miss Dance Team Minnesota delegation to the annual competition in California.  Annie will be a senior and is part of the Maple Grove Crimson Dance Team.  She also dances in multiple competition dance lines at Summit Dance Shoppe.  Here is a bit more about Annie.

Annie Keiper – Photo by Matt Blewett

Tell us about how you got started dancing:
I first started dancing at The Dance Shoppe when I was about the age of 3. That was before Summit and Dance Shoppe combined to create one big studio, now called Summit Dance Shoppe. When I was a kid, I loved performing at recitals and seeing my family come to support me in the crowd. As I have grown, I’ve learned to love dance more every single day!

How have you/your style progressed since you started dancing?
My style has progressed throughout each dance activity I have had the opportunity to participate in. Over the past few years, I have learned many different styles and I’m very grateful to my teachers for introducing me to new ways of expressing myself and my feelings. Reflecting on my time at Summit Dance Shoppe, I especially enjoy the lyrical, jazz and ballet dance styles. As I grew older and joined the Maple Grove Dance Team my freshman year, my passion for the jazz aspect of dance increased. During the Fall dance season, I have learned and enjoy the pom style of dance. Pom is something I had never really experienced before, and I’m glad that I did!

Annie Keiper – Photo by Matt Blewett

What do you love about dance today?
I love how dance is a way I can express feelings. When you walk into a studio/gym and start a practice, you can leave everything behind, all the distractions going on outside of dance and move freely without no one judging you. I also love the adrenaline rush I get before competing or performing!

Annie Keiper – Photo by Matt Blewett

What is a challenge you have sustained in your dance career?
During my sophomore year of high school I was in a car accident. I had several neck and back injuries, and I was devastated when I was told that I would have to sit out of certain dance events. I watched both my studio and high school dance team work hard without being able to participate.  The experience motivated me in my recovery and resolve to get through the injury and back to dancing again. Having not experienced an injury of this magnitude, it was hard for me to comprehend the many hours of chiropractic and physical therapy work I would have to endure.  After conquering the recovery, I was able to dance again before the end of both seasons. I’m extremely thankful for my family and friends who supported me during this time!

What lessons did you learn through this challenge?
I learned that maintaining a positive attitude can help overcome any negative situation. The injury was a major setback in my life, but God would not have given me this challenge if He knew I could not handle it. We all go through different experiences in life, and I think always being optimistic no matter what really helps.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
My mentor and coach, Stephanie Wise Olson-Elm of Summit Dance Shoppe, been my mentor and advisor since I was little. I tend to worry about disappointing others, and like to make sure everyone is happy with me. She had told me that there are times where I can only focus on myself.  At the end of the day, working on a better you is what matters the most. I cannot thank her enough for welcoming me in any situation with open arms. She will always be someone whom I look up to!

Time for shout outs…anyone you want to thank?
My parents, Eric and Kristi, for always believing in me and never leaving my side. I truly don’t know what I would do without them, they mean the world to me! Thank you for supporting my dance career in every possible way.

Annie Keiper – Photo by Matt Blewett

I would also like to thank Stephanie Wise Olson-Elm for pushing me to be a better dancer in person. Thank you for being one of my biggest role models, and never giving up on me!

Finally, thank you to Summit Dance Shoppe, the Maple Grove Dance Team, and the Miss Dance Team organization for giving me lifelong friends I will cherish forever!

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