15-year-old Steamboat dancer Tim Lee looking for help along road to dreams
June 27, 2017
Dancing is more than just a pastime for Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Tim Lee — it's a passion.
"The first couple of years, it was mostly hip-hop or a break dancing class here or there, and then, I ended up taking other classes, like contemporary and ballet," Lee said. "It took a while, but once I started getting into it, I discovered that ballet is a lot of fun. Dance is just a way of putting your emotions out there … it’s super fun to just be on stage with all the energy around you."
Lee first stepped onto the dance floor when his mother enrolled him in a break-dancing workshop at age 9. From there, he enrolled in classes at the Elevation Dance Studio, where break dancing soon become his favorite activity. But his passion for dance didn't stop there.
He explored several other styles of dance and became a regular in many of the studio's annual recitals and other productions, including “The Nutcraker.” His instructors, including Ballet Master Solange Guenier, have become role models. He said Guenier’s stories of performing are a big reason he wants to expand his education to nationally known intensives.
He attended a four-week intensive at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp last year and said the camp helped him grow as a dancer. He added is was also a big reason he has been accepted into the Boston Conservatory for the Summer Dance Intensive program
"I didn't love ballet when I first started, but now, it is my favorite," Lee said. "That, and performing in front of audiences."
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Lee’s love of dance has fueled his desire to perform and improve. He takes as many classes as he can, works at Elevation to help pay for those classes and teaches younger students. His dreams, however, lie beyond the Steamboat Springs city limits.
So last spring, his mother gave him the OK to begin looking for dance intensives that would allow him to grow, as well as see firsthand what it takes to be a dancer at the next level.
"We went to Google and started looking at the summer programs that were available outside of Steamboat," Lee’s mother, Jennifer Lynn, said. "When we came across (the one at Boston Conservatory), I thought it was kind of a stretch, because he is just 15, and the age range was between 15 and 22."
She wanted him to go through the application process, however, to learn what they would need to do in the future to get Lee into the high-level programs that could further his progress.
"We figured, ‘OK, this is a long shot, but we will work toward it,’ because the process of getting into one of these intensives is quite involved," she said. "You have to fill out an extensive application, you have a dance resume, you need head shots, a dance shot and a solo video. Depending on the school, they have different guidelines."
So she helped Tim get everything he needed, and they applied.
The good news was not that Lee learned about what it takes to apply, however, but instead, that he was accepted to the Boston Conservatory for the Summer Dance Intensive program that will take place July 10 through 28.
Elevation owner Renee Fleischer said it's a great opportunity for Lee, who is one of several veteran dancers in her studio.
"Tim really hasn't had an opportunity like this yet, so I'm really excited for him," Fleischer said. "I hope that he gets to go and comes back fulfilled. It should be a great learning experience, and he's worked really hard to get to where he is."
But, while everyone agrees this experience could be the type that changes a young man's life, his acceptance may not guarantee he gets to go. The cost of $4,260, plus the money for airfare, is not currently in the family's budget, and despite fundraising efforts the past few months, they are still about $2,800 short of their goal. Lee was given an extension, but needs to come up with the remaining balance by Saturday.
"I’m trying to support him in what he wants to do with his life so that he has the ability to go as far as he wants to go with it," Lee’s mother said. "That's what it comes down to, and that is what our focus is — that and keeping food on the table."
Lee has received scholarships from Steamboat Dance Theatre, which has helped him keep up with the cost of the classes he is taking in Steamboat. He is also one of two sponsored dancers in the program this year.
But even with that help — and despite the fact that Lee and his mother are working hard to come up with the money — the family is struggling to find a way to get him to Boston this summer. Jennifer Lynn, an artist, has designed a number edition print that will be given to anyone donating more than $80 to Lee’s cause and a poster print to those donating more than $40. The donations need to be received by June 30 and can be made at squareup.com/store/for-a-moment-custom-keepsakes. Donations can also be made by visiting steamboatdancetheatre.org/scholarships/sponsor-a-dancer and clicking on Lee’s name.
"I'm going to sell anything I can. I'm going to see if I can borrow money from friends and pay it back later," Jennifer Lynn said. "I have faith that he is going to go. This is a big opportunity for him, and it's a pivotal point."
She hopes her son can apply what he brings back from Boston to push to new levels that will allow him to reach his goal of performing and touring the world.
"I just want to get better at dance," Lee said. "I think this will be a great place to dance in a more intensive format … I've taken as many classes as I can this summer so that I can keep up and make the most of Boston."