Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Twirling to the tune

Sophomore wins second at dance exchange

Silence. The warm glow of red lights bathes the stage as she takes her place. Strums of a guitar begin to fill the air as sophomore Marquette Ashlin Knight turns to face the audience, rolling and swaying her body to the rhythm of the song. Her heart pounds in her chest and nervous thoughts swarm her head.

As the music plays on, she feels her jitters fade and she immerses herself in the tune. The fabric of her dark floral skirt dances with her as she twirls across the stage. Knight sweeps across the platform, her facial expressions mimicking the brooding yet angelic tones of the background music. She strikes one final pose before the lights dim and silence falls once more. All of her labor and determination seems to pay off as she hears her name called for two separate awards.

As she clutches her awards, all of her hard times, doubts, and long hours of practice fade away. Her win is more than a personal achievement; . it’s a huge step forward in her dance career.

Second place for Senior Advanced Solo and a Judge’s Award. Out of 25 dances, it was hers that impressed the judges, and Artistic Dance Exchange is known for spotting talent. An award-winning dance convention, ADE travels across the country, providing master-taught classes with people like Alex Wong, Ian Eastwood, and Gianna Martello. Among the sea of unbelievable talent, they picked Ashlin Knight.  


“Although I did feel pretty confident with my performance afterward,” Knight said. “I feel that it wasn’t necessarily the best I could have done, so I was overall very pleased that I got second and that the judges selected me out of a lot of solos.”

Her leaps and bounds seem effortless onstage, but that skill took years to hone — 16 years. She started with recreational ballet and tap dance at the age of two, and began competing  as young as five. Now, 11 years later, she specializes in contemporary and jazz, devoting 15 hours every week to her craft. 

Melanie Hunt, Knight’s contemporary dance instructor of eight years helped her prepare for the ADE solo. The two of them were given only five hours to put together the piece, while most students are typically given months to practice. Hunt was unable to see her perform in-person, but watched her through a livestream with proud eyes. 

“I feel like anyone can be a dancer but to actually be a true artist and dance with artistry, that’s her,” Hunt said. “She really dances with everything within her, like with her soul and with everything she has.”

Her solo, titled “The Wicked Game,” has a melancholic tune as it tells the story of falling in love with someone, even if it might hurt. Through her emotional and moving facial expressions, Knight portrays the tone of the song perfectly. Even without relating to the song on a personal level, Knight can still bring the character to life.

“I just feel like I do very good with these emotional pieces,” Knight said. “It’s really easy to get in character for me… It’s just good to put my emotion into it and let it out on stage when I perform.”

Outside her nearly four-hour daily training, Knight is also part of the Marquettes. To her, being a Marquette is about more than just dancing. It’s about valuing sisterhood while still adhering to their traditions and roots. Despite the demanding work, which includes daily and after school practice, Knight believes that the payoff is worth it, and she is incredibly grateful for the chance to share this space with the rest of the team.

“I feel like anyone can be a dancer but to actually be a true artist and dance with artistry, that’s her,”

— Melanie Hunt, Dance Teacher

Because dance is such a commanding and time consuming sport, Knight doesn’t see her family as much as she’d like. But since the beginning, her mother, Abbey Stanford has been there to support her daughter’s musical journey.

“She just really helps me think positively,” Knight said. “Because sometimes I can be a perfectionist and overly critique myself and she just helps me get out of my head about it and really helps to boost my confidence. So I’m very grateful for her for that.”

Along with her current awards, Knight possesses multiple national titles, a 2022 Teen Improv National award, and a High Scoring Soloist award. Knight also joined the 2023 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with the rest of her Marquettes group. She plans on attending either the University of Tennessee or Mississippi and joining the dance team. As an adult, Knight would love to pursue a side career in choreography.

“If you’re passionate, and really take any opportunity handed to you, even if it doesn’t seem like the best opportunity, it can always lead to something better,” Knight said.

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About the Contributor
Lex Paull
Lex Paull, Online Editor
Lex (she/her) is Online Editor and is super excited for her second year on staff. When she’s not working she loves to binge-watch horror movies and listen to music 24/7.

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