Artist Spotlight: Taylor Strilesky

Taylor Strilesky ’24 is part of the WRA Honors Dance Program

Taylor Strilesky ’24 awoke from her sleep, drowsily looking around the hospital room, feeling complete numbness in her left knee. While her friends were returning to Western Reserve Academy to start school orientation, Taylor had just completed surgery for her second meniscus tear. “At this point, I’ve already had two knee surgeries at 14-years-old” Taylor noted. Though Taylor was put under anesthesia at an inconvenient time, balancing WRA academics, recovery and dance is not a new endeavor for the 15-year old sophomore. Just days after her surgery, Taylor knew the first step in her journey to recovery was to proceed as normal. “And then I had to walk into school still on medication. I was totally out of it,” she vocalized with a large grin, now disregarding a possible future without dance. At WRA, Taylor continues to dance through WRA’s honors dance program and maintains a rigorous school schedule and competitive dance career.

A normal day in the life of Taylor can be broken down into three categories: school, sports and dance with homework time dabbled throughout. Typically ending her dance classes around 9:45 PM each night, Taylor admits that dance is a “great stress reliever” despite the high-pressure expectations. Katie Velbeck, Director of the WRA Dance Program, notes that once Taylor had entered her Honors Dance class, it was “clear that she was a superb dancer.” She seemingly had it all: great technique, explosive jumps and “a very versatile background.” Before joining the WRA Class of 2024, Taylor attended training sessions for approximately 30 hours per week.

However, during late summer 2021, Taylor tore her meniscus for the second time, first on the right leg, now on the left. “If I had to get another, I would probably have to stop dance altogether.” Once the competitive season concluded, Taylor scheduled the second surgery. Today, Taylor has just hit the three-and-a-half-month recovery mark. While dancing has reclaimed its spot in her daily routine, “[she] has to amply prepare” before each class to prevent further injury. A return to dance comes with a return to pivoting responsibilities; through it all, Taylor’s disposition remains an impressive characteristic.
Only time will reveal what the future holds for the sophomore. Taylor continually “throw[s] out many ideas” for her next dance endeavor. A collegiate team, local studio employment or traveling nationally to teach choreography are just a few of the possibilities open to WRA’s Taylor Strilesky.

-David King ’22

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