Following her dream: Southold senior accepted at one of the country’s top dance schools

There was never a doubt about Violet Rand’s talent. Starting at 3 years old, Violet has been perfecting her technique in every dance style she could master. Now, her hard work has paid off.

Last month, the 17-year-old was accepted into Oklahoma City University’s Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Entertainment. At one of the top dance programs in North America, consistently sharing the number one spot with Juilliard, Violet will have the opportunity to take her talent to new heights, whether that be in performance or another aspect of the entertainment industry.

As a senior at Southold High School, Violet always has a lot on her plate. Aside from schoolwork, she attends dance practice daily, at both North Fork Academy of Dance in Greenport and Eglevsky Ballet in Bethpage. She teaches younger dance students, is a choreography captain for all of her high school’s musicals and travels Long Island with her regional competitive dance team.

“There’s something magical that happens when she’s on stage.”

Karissa Despres

“When I started high school, I already knew that I wanted to have a career in dance,” Violet said in a recent interview. “I work hard to get the majority of my schoolwork done in school, during my study hall periods and lunch, so that after school all I have to do is dance.”

Karissa Despres, owner and artistic director of North Fork Dance Academy, has watched Violet’s skill as a performer blossom over the past 14 years. Ms. Despres knew from the time Violet was 8 that her showmanship was on another level and, paired with her dedicated work ethic, also knew Violet was going to go very far in her dance career.

“Violet always had performance in her blood,” Ms. Despres said. “There’s something magical that happens when she’s on stage. Violet could be doing the most simplistic movement, but her techniques keep you mesmerized.”

It was Ms. Despres’ guidance that led Violet to the Oklahoma-based dance school. She found that a summer program Violet had previously attended, Steps on Broadway in Manhattan, offered virtual meetings for multiple college-level dance programs across the country and forwarded it to Violet’s mom, Heather Rand. From there, Violet fell in love with the multitude of opportunities Oklahoma City University offered.

According to its website, the Ann Lacy School offers bachelor’s degrees in four areas of dance and arts management: performing arts in dance performance, dance management, American dance pedagogy and entertainment business.

Violet Rand performing at the Starquest Dance Competition in January 2020. (Courtesy photo)

“As a freshman, I will start out as a universal dance major, meaning I will be able to experience all aspects offered by the program,” Violet said. “I chose this school because I’ll be exposed to everything I could possibly do in the dance world. I’ll learn how to teach classes as well as manage dance studios and stage performances. Of course, I’ll continue improving my performances and technique. And that’s my favorite part of dance; there’s always room for improvement. I’ll never stop learning.”

Violet’s superior work ethic seems to run in the family. Her parents, both Suffolk County teachers, always had an artistic streak and encouraged their daughters to pursue their passions. Violet’s sister, Juliet, now in her sophomore year at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, is training to become a professional opera singer.

“Talent is a huge part of the industry, but being a leader and team player, taking and applying corrections, is more important than being a superstar,” said Ms. Despres. “Violet has such a strong work ethic and that’s because of her parents. Arts pump through their veins.”

Violet embarks on her journey to Oklahoma City in August. She is excited and thankful for the people who have supported her through her dance career journey thus far.

“All of my teachers are so knowledgeable,” Violet said. “They inspire me to keep learning and evolving. I’m so thankful for having so many people who always support me.”