For Olivia Kruyer, dance is all about expression.
“You can express your words without saying anything, you can really express your feelings without talking – you do it all through dance,” she said.
That’s one of the reasons she’s attracted to the styles she’ll showcase at Oaklawn’s Got Talent – contemporary and lyrical.
“I think these styles really help dancers channel so much strength and emotion – with your song choice and movements, you can tell a story that resonates with the audience,” said Sarah Rice, Olivia’s mom.
Olivia started dancing at Legacy Dance Studio in Mishawaka in the third grade. Before that, she participated in gymnastics. During Covid, Olivia saw a YouTube video featuring hip hop and wanted to try dance. They also had a friend whose daughter danced at Legacy and strongly encouraged Sarah to contact them. “Kerri really saw something special in Olivia and I’m so grateful she did,” Sarah said.
Olivia’s first class was Poms, which exposed her to a variety of skills in dance. After her first year, it didn’t take long for Olivia to gravitate to styles she now loves – contemporary, lyrical, hip hop and modern jazz.
Now, in sixth grade – and the youngest OGT contestant to date, at 12 years old – she’s in her fourth year as a dancer and third year performing competitively on the Legacy Dance Company. She dances 8-10 hours a week – sometimes more – and travels to major cities across the Midwest to participate in dance conventions and competitions.
Competing as a soloist is still new for Olivia, and she gets nervous before she takes the stage. Her coaches continue to teach her how to mentally prepare, an important part of being a performer.
Olivia says once she gets through the first few seconds of a dance, she becomes so focused and invested that those nerves quickly disappear. That’s the moment when she gets in her zone and can really use her craft to tell a powerful story.
For Oaklawn’s Got Talent, she’s planning to perform two dances, “I Ran” and “A Million Dreams.”
“I picked these songs because so many people can relate to them and I really like how you can feel the strong and steady build-up,” Olivia said. “ ‘I Ran – it’s a story about knowing you should get away from something or someone, but you keep getting pulled back in, and you’re not sure if you’ll ever be able to get away from it. I think people can relate to anything that’s like an addiction to them. And ‘A Million Dreams,’ I picked it because we all have big dreams, and some people may not agree with your dreams. But, if you really want them to come true, you have to keep believing that you can get there one day. You just have to keep focusing and keep trying.”