Abbi Robertson, a Hot Springs World Class High School senior, recently earned a THEA Foundation Scholarship for her excellence and leadership in Dance Arts.
"I'm grateful and still kind of in shock that I even placed in the first place, but I'm just very grateful and honored to be qualified for this scholarship," Robertson said.
She said she believes the committee looks for the recipient's artistry, how they implement that in the way they move, and their passion.
"I feel like I really was able to show that in my dance performance because I love what I do," Robertson said.
Receiving the scholarship will allow Robertson to pursue dance in college and to match that scholarship with other schools and other scholarships, she said, noting, "It's a great opportunity for me to pursue my dream."
For the past five years, Robertson said she has wanted to pursue dance in college at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Amy Bramlett Turner, HSWCHS dance troupe instructor, and Edmond Cooper, owner of Hot Springs Children's Dance Theatre, both attended TCU.
In 2019, Robertson attended the Texas Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive at TCU where she spent five weeks at dance camp learning and training under several Texas Ballet Theatre faculty members.
"I hope to attend that college. I want to pursue a bachelor's degree in fine arts in ballet and modern dance and minor in physical therapy," Robertson said.
"I loved the instruction from several of the teachers there. I felt so comfortable and at home. I just feel like I'd finally found somewhere where I belonged," she said. "I just fell in love with the atmosphere."
Robertson said she started dancing at the age of 9 years old, noting it was the only outlet she had as a child. She said she has gone through quite a bit of adversity in her home life and dance gave her the sense of direction and purpose she lacked.
"It's helped me through a lot. (It's something that) I can lean on, and it's always been there for me, and so I can't see myself doing anything else," Robertson said.
Robertson had to submit a video and give some background information to apply for the scholarship, she said, noting her dance performance in the video took her a couple of months with the help of her dance teacher.
"Every day, I learned one of my favorite variations from my favorite ballet. I worked on it and my technique (and) artistry. I worked on it for months until we videoed it to submit it. I looked over it with my teacher and made sure we both felt the same way about the video and felt it was worthy enough to be judged by these instructors for the foundation, and so we submitted it together," she said.
Robertson chose a ballet variation, which is about a young girl who falls in love, and tried to implement that.
"Each variation leaves room for the artist to make it their own. I feel like when I perform that variation, I made it more about my journey and self-discovery growing up through what I've been through and getting past it and just becoming my own person and becoming my own woman," Robertson said.
"I feel like I tried to showcase that as I danced. That's what I wanted to portray to my audience and to the community."
Robertson said she feels that everyone needs the arts in their lives, whether it's dancing, singing, or acting.
"(Dance) has helped me through so much, and it's allowed me to realize so much about myself. I don't think I'd be the person I am today; I don't think I'd be here today if I didn't have dance if I didn't have the arts program here at the Hot Springs World Class High School. If I did not have Amy Bramlett Turner, I don't think I would be here. I would be on a much worse path," she said.
Dance gave her a safe place where she could be herself, judgment-free, she said, noting, "It gave me a home, it gave me a dance family. It gave me something that I didn't have that I didn't imagine myself ever having.
"I'm so grateful for the THEA Foundation for seeing my potential and deciding to invest in me. I'm just grateful for all of my teachers and friends and family who have supported me and helped me pursue my dream and give me my wings to fly."