Kelly Stouffer dances to her own beat



courtesy of Camille Woodbridge

Kelly Stouffer performs aerial feats during her photo shoot.

by Beau Cameron, Editor

Not everyone has what it takes to make it in the competitive arts community. However, at only 15, sophomore Kelly Stouffer is modeling, dancing, and planning her future career in electronics.

Stouffer has been dancing for almost 11 years with the Cheryl O’Hara Dance Elite, specializing in ballet, but she has practiced most forms of dance during her time with the company.

“I really didn’t want to dance when I was a kid, but then I went to my first lesson and realized how much I loved it. I’ve been dancing ever since,” said Stouffer. “My favorite performance is probably my musical theater dance for this year, Mama, from the musical Chicago. Out of all my dances it had the most character and allows for the most acting.” 

Stouffer has also been involved with modeling for most of her life. Stouffer’s grandfather, Donald Becker, works at the Washington School of Photography. When Stouffer was barely nine years old, Becker began using her as a model for his portraiture classes. As she grew older, Stouffer began working with various modeling agencies to land jobs and contracts. What was once merely a way to help out her grandfather has transformed into a part-time job.

Although Stouffer views her modeling career as strictly a way to earn money until she graduates, dance has become her passion. “I’ve always wanted a career in the arts,” said Stouffer.

“Kelly is really quirky, in a good way. She’s funny, very creative, and an all around great person. You’d expect her to be vain or something with the whole model thing, but she’s super nice,” said Sarah Buckley, class of 2019 student and close friend of Stouffer.

Even so, Stouffer’s main focus is on her academics. Stouffer said, “I have to set my priorities. School always comes first, because that’s what I’ll be using for the rest of my life. Then dance, then modeling.”

She hopes to pursue video-game engineering. “I’m really good with technology and programming,” said Stouffer. “But I’d also be able to work with the story-building and graphics. It incorporates both my interests.”

Tracy Stouffer, Kelly’s mother, has been supporting her daughter throughout her entire dance and modeling career. From driving her to competitions to working backstage at her performances, Mrs. Stouffer tries to help her daughter however she can.

“I used to dance as a kid,” said Mrs. Stouffer. “Seeing Kelly perform not only relives old memories for me, but also helps her do something that she loves.”

Outside of modeling and dancing, Stouffer enjoys all forms of art. Stouffer said, “I act, I sing, I draw a lot, and I’m teaching myself to play the guitar. Besides that, I just like to hang out with my friends.”

Buckley said, “Kelly made me really comfortable when I first came here. When we met, she managed to put me at ease despite how shy I was.”

Although she doesn’t plan to pursue dance as a career, Stouffer does want to continue dancing as a hobby. “I have a lot of fun dancing, and I don’t want to give it up.”

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