Meet Northwest Dance Theatre’s Sofia Nelson

A Nutcracker Tea 2017 – Photo by Colleen Dishy Photography

We are constantly inspired by our Northwest Dance Theatre dancers’ love of learning and passion for sharing the joy of dance with their community. Sofia Nelson is one such dancer whose love of dance and passion for performing and community is overflowing. She approaches each role with full-commitment and focus, which makes her a joy to watch from the very first moment she steps onstage. Her positive energy and tenacious work ethic is contagious among her peers and sets a wonderful example for younger dancers. As we approach this year’s spring production, we know Sofia will be greatly missed at NWDT, but we are also excited for her as she graduates and begins her next life chapter. We are very proud of Sofia and her achievements, both on and off stage, and wish her the very best in all her future endeavors.

Come join us April 14th and 15th, 2018, at the Portland Community College Sylvania Performing Arts Center for Snow White and Other Works! Experience for yourself the joy that Sofia and her peers bring to our community through dance.

In this NWDT interview, Sofia shares with us a little about this year’s spring production, as well as some of her favorite company memories.

Where do you train?

I’ve trained at June Taylor’s School of Dance since I was four, and I couldn’t imagine growing up anywhere else!

When did you join NWDT? 

I joined NWDT when I was twelve (in 2012).

Sofia (far left) and Emma Anderson to her right performing Spanish with fellow company members in 2017 production of A Nutcracker Tea Photo by Colleen Dishy Photography

What is your favorite company memory?

My favorite company memory was touring Keller Auditorium with the company and dancing on the stage. It was an incredible feeling to get to dance on a stage that size, and afterwards we got to tour the dressing rooms where all the OBT dancers stay. It was amazing!

What do you love most about performing?

I absolutely love performing. The bright lights make the audience completely dark, and reminds me that I’m dancing because of I love the joy it brings me, and I don’t have to worry about what others think of me. When I perform, I can let go of everything in my life that has pulled me down, and become a new person. I get to embody a new character every time I step foot on stage, and I love that about performing.

What was your favorite NWDT role to dance?

My favorite role to dance was Dewdrop in A Nutcracker Tea. Dewdrop was always a dream role of mine, and I was so lucky to have been given the opportunity to perform it this year with new choreography by Miss Kim that was absolutely beautiful!

Sofia pictured as the Dewdrop Fairy on the far right – Photo by Colleen Dish Photography

What challenges have you learned to overcome as a dancer?

Dance requires a lot of dedication, and trying to maintain good grades and still dance 5-6 days a week has been extremely difficult. I’ve learned to manage my time better, and thanks to dance (and Miss June in particular), I was taught the power of hard work and where life can take you with drive and passion for something you love.

How has your work with NWDT impacted you? 

NWDT has been an incredible opportunity for me. Not only did it stretch me as a dancer and student, I was gifted an amazing second family. I’ve grown so close with all of the girls in the company, and it’s going to be really hard to let that go next year.

Ragtime by Thorey Mountain – featured in 2015 spring production Peter and the Wolf and Other Works

Who has inspired you the most? 

My mom is constant inspiration for me. Day in and day out, she is the one that pushes me to do what I love and strive to be my best. She never danced as a kid, yet her unconditional love and support makes it feel like she is dancing alongside me every time I step foot on the stage.

What is your favorite piece in this year’s spring show?

In this years spring show, I’m so excited to perform the role of the evil queen. At the dance studio, I feel like I’ve always been given very energetic and smiley roles, but performing a villain has always been a dream of mine and I’m excited to showcase it in the upcoming performance.

What are your future plans and goals?

I will be attending Linfield College in the Fall of 2018 for pre-med studies, and I’m hoping to continue dancing on the side. I hope to later attend graduate school to get my MD, and we’ll see where life takes me from there. From my 14+ years of dance, I’ve grown to love learning about the human body and the way everything works together to create movement, so ideally in the future I’ll be helping others as a physician, orthopedic surgeon, or physical therapist. We’ll see. 🙂

What lessons will you take away with you from your time with the company?

2013 Nutcracker Tea Outreach Program at the Tulatin Public Library

I will always remember to strive to be my best and never give up. There have been many times when something in dance feels too hard. I feel defeated and immediately want to give up. Miss June always brings me back up, helping me through the bumps in the road and teaching me that I can do anything I can put my mind to with hard work, dedication, and a smile on my face.

What is on your mind as you prepare for your last NWDT performance?

As my NWDT experience comes to a close, I can’t help but feel sad. I don’t ever want this incredible journey to end, but I’m beyond grateful for all of the wonderful experiences Miss June and the rest of the company has given me these past five years.

Snow White and Other Works will be held April 14 at 6:00pm and April 15 at 2pm at PCC Sylvania. Tickets run $12-18 ($10 for youth) and are available at nwdt.org/snow-white-and-other-works. Please contact 503-925-3898 or email tickets@nwdt.org for more information.