When college students say that they are studying within the College of the Arts, someone’s natural reaction would be that their lives are not as complicated as a student who studies chemistry, psychology, engineering and other more traditional majors. Even with three illnesses, Michelle Guerrizio is living proof that College of the Arts majors share the same level of stress as any other college student.
At 19-years-old, Guerrizio is a sophomore studying dance as well as family and child studies at Montclair State University. She began dancing at the age of two and became a dance instructor by age 13. Along with teaching young dancers, Guerrizio is also a national dance competitor. She began dancing competitively at age 10.
“When I was younger, I was a very hyperactive child,” said Guerrizio. “My mom then decided dance was a good place for me to go and learn to move my body around in a more productive way. My mom also danced when she was younger, so she then decided to try it out with me. I don’t think she ever imagined it to become such a big thing in our lives.”
Guerrizio suffers from bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection which can take a terrible toll on the human body. Its effects include joint pain, cognitive impairment, poor sleep patterns, muscle pain and fatigue. “Dance was a big stress relief for me,” Guerrizio said.
After college, Guerrizio dreams of working as a dancer at Walt Disney World and would like to audition for the position after she graduates from Montclair State. She also dreams of being a certified dance teacher or a first grade teacher in a public school.
In 10 years, she sees herself being a dance instructor or working with competition dance teams in a studio. “After I dance, I feel like a completely different person. It completely shifts my mood” she said. “If there’s something you want to be able to do, you don’t stop until you get there,” she said.
The busy dancer does not let her illnesses prevent her from achieving her dreams. Guerrizio dedicates about 29 hours a week to dancing, and she dances every day and doesn’t let her medical dilemmas stop her from reaching her goals. This includes the hours that she dedicates to teaching dance to toddlers on weekends.
On Saturday mornings, she teaches a class called “Little Movers” for two-to-three year olds at the Turning Pointe Dance Center in both Springfield and Union, New Jersey. Guerrizio also teaches extra rehearsals on Sundays, where she prepares children for dance competitions. Her styles of dance includes ballet and modern dance, but she also takes both choreography and repertory classes at Montclair State.
Guerrizio’s drive and passion is proof that no matter what obstacles we may come cross in life, we can all fulfill our dreams if we work hard for it. For this reason, Guerrizio is indeed a force to be reckoned with.