Laila Fatimi is 17 years old and a Senior at Natick High School. She will be graduating this spring and attending the University of Maine in the Fall. She has been dancing at Impulse Dance Center in Natick, MA for the past 15 years where she is a part of the Connecting Point Dance Company and the TAProject; two performing companies from the studio. Laila has also started her own business, Designs By Laila, that incorporates Henna designs into everything from tattoos to skateboards and sneakers. Here are some of the highlights from the conversation that we had together.
So I understand that you have been dancing at Impulse Dance Center for the past 15 years. Why don’t you tell me about the experience you’ve had from learning from the same teachers for such an extended amount of time.
Learning from the same teachers for so long, at Impulse Dance Center in Natick, MA I have learned so much. I have learned everything from different styles of dance, to intricate technique, and life lessons. One of the most important things I’ve learned, that is the most relevant to me at the moment (being a graduating senior), was said last year by Karen Krolak. She said, the more amazing memories made with a person, the more painful it is to say goodbye. Impulse is like my second family and I’m honored to be a part of such a great community!
I see that you’ve had a number of jobs over the past few years, have any of them impacted or tied into your dancing?
Yes, I actually think that my dancing has impacted my jobs. For a couple years, I worked at Corrado’s Subs in Natick Center. It’s obvious that making subs and dancing are very different, but I quickly learned that remembering sandwich orders is similar to remembering choreography. Now that I have been working on my own business, Designs by Laila, I have to be very organized, outgoing with customers, and on top of my work. Being at Impulse Dance Center almost every day, having school, and having homework have all helped me in learning the balancing act.
So over the years you have been to many different conventions. What would you say has been your favorite convention that you’ve been to and how did they differ from each other?
My favorite convention that I have been to has been the PULSE on tour convention in Boston. Learning from many world famous choreographers has shown me what being successful takes. It also was an awesome feeling to be in a room with hundreds of dancers who have had a totally different dance education than I have, meaning I had different strengths and weaknesses from the person next to me, which you can learn a lot from.
How do you think performing so much at such a young age has influenced you professionally?
I have learned how to present myself professionally, how to be respectful and how to be punctual. There is a lot that goes into a performance and if you are not on point something in the performance process could go wrong, or you could not be asked back to perform.
What would you say has been your favorite experience while performing in the Connecting Point Dance Company?
My favorite performance experience was at 12 Dancers Dancing in December 2011, at the Dance Complex in Cambridge, MA. I performed a piece called ‘Mad World’, created by Arie Hockman, with the rest of the Connecting Point Dance Company. I loved performing with a such a small group (three). It gave us a chance to connect as dancers, in a beautiful dance that is still my favorite piece that I have ever learned! It was also the first time that I felt so much passion and connection towards a piece. I also had a great time getting ready for the piece. The ConnectingPoint Dance Company and Arie Hockman, the company’s director, drove into Boston for about a week straight. We would grab some coffee from the cafe down the street, put our pail white makeup on, and perform. I think this gave us more time to bond and get to know each other as more than just dancers.