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New dance coach brings fresh vision

“Community, creativity and purpose in the dance world”

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Elizabeth Gentile, recently hired as the new Oak Park High School dance team coach, said she is looking forward to helping the team grow and thrive.

Gentile, born and raised in Chicago and currently a student at California Lutheran University, was the varsity dance captain during both her junior and senior years at Aurora Central Catholic High School in Aurora, Illinois.

In 2017, Gentile studied at the University of Roehampton in London where she said she made some of her best friends, learned about British culture and dance as a high art.

“There was a point in my life when I was done doing the whole performing thing. My life has been dance for so long, and I got the opportunity to choreograph my freshman year and doing that got me to see a whole different side of dance,” Gentile said. “Since then I just wanted to choreograph and teach, and that is what inspired me to be a teacher and a coach.”

When applying for the coaching position, Gentile said she was doubtful that she would get the job because she is only 21 years old, but eager to put her name out there.

Gentile said that she “laid down and was like ‘this is the best day ever’” when she found out she had been chosen for the job.

According to Gentile, being young in her profession has allowed her to have a better connection with dancers not only as a coach, but as a mentor.

“She can really relate with all the girls. Coach and I have many inside jokes and we like to laugh and have fun during practice and such,” sophomore and team member Annette Saban said. “She feels like a coach, but also a really good friend that I can come to if I need to talk. She also was a dancer and on her high school dance team, so she can really relate to us.”

Gentile has had two coaches that have particularly made an impact on her life. One is her childhood studio director at the Elite Academy of Dance, Jennie Newman-Scheiwe, and the second is her high school dance coach, Terri Varney.

“I respect how motivated she is and how much she believes in us. She is definitely an amazing role model,” freshman Celeste Goldes said. “I love her so much.”

In the next few years, Gentile said she plans on giving the dancers the opportunity to participate in competitions that other schools in the area are in, such as West Coast Elite and USA. She also wants them to become more involved in both the Oak Park and Conejo Valley communities.

“I always tell everyone ‘cheer your team on, be there for each other, talk to each other on the floor, really feel each other’s energy,’” Gentile said. “‘You are not individual dancers now, we are one unit so be there for one another, watch out for one another and represent the dance team.’”

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1 Comment

One Response to “New dance coach brings fresh vision”

  1. claire sheinberg on October 29th, 2018 6:41 PM

    The way this article was written by Sofie Burstein, at 14 years of age, is truly remarkable!
    Her way of expressing and linking the character’s comments, show the path, that Sofie, with so much talent WILL become a great writer.

    Well done Sofita!!!!