The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

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Haley Johnson: Dancing through the Years

High school in and of itself comes with a lot of pressure.  Homework and tests pile up, and it’s hard to find the balance of schoolwork, socializing, and athletics.  Imagine if you had only one hour a day to do homework — and that hour was spent on a train.

That is the reality for senior Haley Johnson, who commutes to downtown Chicago six days a week to dance at the Joffrey Ballet Company.  Joffrey is a famous dance company and dance school located in the theatre district of Chicago.  It produces many talented dancers who often dance at a professional level.

From the young age of three, Johnson began dancing at Dance Center North in downtown Libertyville.  The classes started out easy — ballet, jazz, tap — but got more difficult as the years passed.  Ballet was her class of choice and is what she still loves just as much today.

After dancing in Libertyville for 11 years, Johnson decided she wanted to take her passion for dance to the next level.

“The summer after eighth grade, I auditioned for the Joffrey Ballet Company in Chicago…it was so exciting to get the opportunity to dance with such talented people,” Johnson said.

Ever since she was accepted into the Joffrey Ballet Company, Johnson has been taking the train down to the city religiously six days a week.  Her schedule is packed full, between school, dance, and her job.

7:00 a.m. – 2:50 PM:

Like everyone else, Johnson attends school.  Without a study hall, her homework quickly adds up.

“I usually have a lot of homework that I have to do on the train to Chicago…that isn’t fun,”

Johnson said.

3:10 PM:

Monday through Friday, Johnson is picked up from school by her mother, Mrs. Stephanie Johnson, and makes it to the Libertyville train station in time to catch the 3:10 train to the city.  The train ride is an hour and a half long, which gives her time to do homework and, if she’s lucky, relax.

4:40 PM:

The twenty minute walk from Union Station to the Joffrey Ballet begins.

“The walk is brutal in the winter…on those negative 10 degree days, I thought I was gonna die!” Johnson said.

5:00 PM

The first class of the night starts.  It is a simple ballet technique class, which is one-hour long.  This class covers the basics of ballet and gets her warmed up and stretched out.

6:00 PM:

Johnson’s next class at Joffrey is a pointe class, focusing again on ballet.  This time, she wears her pointe shoes, meaning she is on her toes the whole time – which is much more difficult.

7:00 – 8:30 PM:

The last class of the evening is a jazz and modern class, which is different and exciting, according to Johnson.

“I love all my classes, but I really love jazz the most,” Johnson said.

Every night, at 9:00 p.m., Mrs. Johnson makes the 45-minute drive down to Chicago to pick her daughter up.  On top of her busy weekday schedule, Johnson works at local restaurant Casa Bonita in Libertyville on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons to save money for college.

When asked if she ever regrets any decisions that have been made with her busy dance routine, Johnson has a definite answer.

“I never regret it because I love it so much.  I always wonder, ‘When will I get tired of this?’  Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be sticking to my little-girl dream, but I love it and I’ve definitely grown since I started dancing and have come a long way,” Johnson said.

Aside from dancing at Joffrey, Johnson is a part of Orchesis dance group at LHS.  She has danced in the shows each March since freshman year, and actually choreographs a few of the dances that are performed, including choosing the music and costumes.

Senior Julia Stiber has worked with Johnson in Orchesis and has nothing but positive things to say about her.

“It is a blast to dance with Haley!  She brings so much creativity and talent to Orchesis,” Stiber said.

Beginning the summer after seventh grade, Johnson began taking summer intensive courses.  The first one was in Orlando, and as the years went on, she traveled to Houston, New York City, and most recently, San Francisco.   These courses helped her focus on and improve different dance styles and techniques, while also allowing her to meet new people and see new places.  These programs have helped her with decisions regarding her future.

After graduating, Johnson currently plans on attending the University of Arizona, which has a prestigious dance program.  They only accepted 25 students out of 450 applicants, and Johnson got in after auditioning a couple of months ago. She is waiting to see what kind of scholarship she’d be offered, but would love to be able to dance there.

As for her plans following college, Johnson would ideally be performing with Lines Ballet Company in San Francisco, the same company she took a summer intensive with last summer.

“I want to get into more of a contemporary dance style after college…ballet is really tough and can get lonely,” Johnson said.

Although no one knows what is in store, being as talented of a dancer as Johnson is, there’s no doubt she will go far in her career, no matter what she does.



Haley Johnson practices at the barre.
Haley Johnson practices at the barre.
Haley Johnson performs ballet
Haley Johnson performs ballet
Johnson dances in the Orchesis performance at LHS.
Johnson dances in the Orchesis performance at LHS.
Haley Johnson dances at Joffrey.
Haley Johnson dances at Joffrey.


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Haley Johnson: Dancing through the Years