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Bringing it all back home: Senior Alexis Richens’ passion for raising the dance bar rewarded with $15,000 scholarship

Senior dance major Alexis Richens isn’t just looking to boost her own performance standards in the College of Fine Arts. She wants to inspire her fellow Bermudans back on the island to greater heights as well.

The 21-year-old, who is working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and a Bachelor of Business Administration in management, plans to take her passion and all she’s learned at Jacksonville University back to the British territory where she grew up.

Alexis Richens

“There are a lot of dance schools in Bermuda, but a lot look at it as a hobby, so I want to see more people pursuing it as a career and going on to universities,” she said. “I have taught private classes and done choreography with young girls, and I love to see the light bulbs turn on for them. My main goal is to go back to Bermuda, open a school, continue teaching dance and sharing my passion and knowledge with the community.”

For her desire to invest in others as well as herself, along with her dedication, sacrifice and a focus on career goals, Richens was awarded the top $15,000 Patricia Calnan Commemorative scholarship from the National Dance Foundation of Bermuda (NDFB) to help with her JU studies.

“I was very humbled when I found out about it,” she said. “As a double major at JU, hard work and time management are what it’s all about, and making sure I communicate with my professors and maintain my positive attitude. My main competition is with myself, so I push myself every day.”

Presenting the awards to this year’s recipients, NDFB deputy chairman Brian O’Hara praised them for nurturing Bermuda’s young people via world-class dance training. He called the current awardees role models and noted they have helped bring dance excellence to Bermuda.

Noting that Richens possesses a unique mix of discipline and drive combined with an easygoing “island mentality,” dance Prof. Brian Palmer said she was well-deserving of the honor.

“As an ambitious double major, she’s shown ingenuity and leadership as our student dance representative, acting as a go-between to always ensure communication between our students, faculty and administration is highly effective,” he said. “With a well-rounded education here combining the best of liberal arts and business, she’s going to be successful in life.”

Richens trained at Jacksons School of Performing Arts in Bermuda for 14 years, then took classes at the Russian School of Ballet and the Somerset School of Dancing, and also participated in NDFB summer intensives. Upon graduation she plans to work toward becoming an American Ballet Theater-certified teacher

A typical day for Richens, who’s been dancing since age 4 and fell in love with it to “stay sane and get those endorphins to kick in,” involves studies, two or three dance classes, a gym workout and then rehearsal. All in all, about five or more hours devoted to her passion.

She praised her JU instructors for helping her with time management and refining her talents.

“They have encouraged me and seen me grow. They’ve helped with communicating to my business professors and making sure my day is balanced,” she said. “They’ve done a great job and are inspirations to me.”