Saturday, March 17, 2012
You could say that dancing is in her blood.
KILGORE On the outside, 17-year-old Junior Colby Johnston looks like any other student. But once you get past her bigger than life smile and radiant eyes, you find something much, much more. Not only is Colby first in her class, Captain of the Kilgore High School drill team and member of the Longview Ballet, she dedicates a minimum of 30 hours a week to persuing her dream of becoming a professional dancer.
You could say that dancing is in her blood. Her grandmother, Susie Merritt, still owns a dance studio in downtown Kilgore where she taught dance for twenty years. Colby’s older sister, Lexi, is currently studying dance at the University of North Carolina School of Arts.
With all this dance background, one would think Colby would have fallen in love with the art immediately. However, Colby originally had her own interests. She played soccer, softball, excelled in gymnastics, and became a cheerleader in the eighth grade.
But everything changed the summer of 2009. Colby was selected to attend Miami City Ballet’s Summer Intensive Workshop and was picked to dance the feature role. According to Colby, “It forced me to focus all my attention on dancing. That’s when I fell in love.”
Colby starts her school day with Advanced Placement History, Advanced Placement English, Chemistry, and Pre-Calculus. After lunch, she spends six straight hours dancing followed by homework. Colby credits her dedication and drive to her father, Brian, who has often told her, “You have to try your hardest or you won’t get anywhere.” Colby confesses, “I always wanted to cry if I struck out or couldn’t make a goal, but he told me there was no crying in sports, and you have to suck it up. Its been hard to learn, but I would not be where I am without it.”
Colby has a dream to perform on Broadway. The only thing standing in her way is a cracked spine. During the school year there is no time to let the injury rest. “Hopefully, this summer I will be able to audition for colleges 100% okay. My back has been like this for a year; it just scares me. I don’t want to have to dance with an injury like this and not be able to perform. If I could do anything, I would like to attend the University of North Carolina School of Arts and study acting and singing.”
Colby’s bright and energetic personality is positively uplifting. It’s not hard to see why she was chosen as captain of her high school drill team as a junior. It’s not hard to see why she is first in her class and was chosen to dance the lead roll of Tinkerbell for the Longview Ballet in their recent production of Peter Pan. Her drive and determination is one that parallels an Olympic athlete. The future is unclear for Colby, but I think we can all agree, it’s bright.