See Stephanie Troyak, of Plano, dancing by herself on stage or with an ensemble, and it’s easy to forget she’s only 21.
Troyak graduated from Dallas’ Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in 2012. Now employed with the internationally acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv, Israel, she travels around the world showing her spirit through the universal language of dance.
Troyak is one of 16 members of the Batsheva Young Ensemble, which features dancers ages 18 to 24.
"The Batsheva Dance Company uses the Gaga movement technique created by Ohad Naharin, which allows the dancer to explore and listen to different sensations of the body by doing various improvisation tasks that create new ways of moving," Troyak explained. "Each day is another chance to delve into a laboratory of endless possibilities, where I create my own fantasies. I can be explosive, sensitive, animalistic."
While a senior at Booker T. Washington, Troyak already had an eye on the Batsheva Dance Company.
“Stephanie is unique because of her maturity for her age as an artist,” said Kathy Walker, dance department chair at Booker who also mentored Troyak. “She brought a different perspective of creativity that comes from a higher level of maturity.”
As a senior, Troyak went to Batsheva shows and studied their dance repertoire. She also attended Batsheva Gaga winter and summer intensive sessions in Israel and New York City to learn their dance techniques.
“Stephanie was one of our top dancers and choreographers,” said the school’s artistic director, Aurelia Weiss, who also taught Troyak modern dance.
Weiss added that Troyak ranked nationally with the Young Artist Foundation and was a finalist for her adjunction for choreography.
“There’s no other better example for a teacher to know that one of her students has reached her dream,” Weiss said.
At Booker T. Washington, about 220 students per year are chosen from over 900 applicants. The school offers a curriculum that includes academics and the arts. A full day is typically from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., often with after-school rehearsals that end as late as 9 p.m.
“The routine at Booker definitely prepared me for the long hours needed to rehearse at Batsheva. I had an intense schedule of dance classes during the day,” Troyak said, noting that the school opened her eyes to the possibility of joining a professional dance company. “I feel more prepared now as a professional.”
Music, paintings, books and observing various cultures inspired Troyak to develop her own choreography ideas. In high school, she had the opportunity to perform the work of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Take Ueyama and other forms of dance. She also took master classes with professional company directors and guest dance companies, which provided many networking opportunities in the dance world.
Troyak’s next goal is to join the main company with Batsheva Dance Company and travel all around the world performing on stage. She also would like to create her own choreography and start a dance company.
Although Troyak is living and working in Israel, she still considers Plano her permanent home. Her family remains in the area, too.
“I plan on getting a dual citizenship as both an American and a Canadian,” Troyak said.