Pine Belt teen recognized nationally through dance

Updated: Feb. 21, 2020 at 3:13 PM CST
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A Pine Belt teen is achieving success and national recognition through performing arts.

“My favorite part of dancing is being able to express myself without having to talk,” Halei Hood said.

Articulate and eloquent, at just 13 years old, Halei spends hours in the dance studio every day perfecting her technique and skill.

“Use my legs, because I have long legs and use the strength in them. Most of all, point my feet because that’s the main thing I need to work on,” Halei said.

Learning the language of dance through contemporary movement, she has aspirations to attend the internationally renowned private performing arts school, The Juilliard School in New York City.

“Contemporary is pretty much a slow version of dance and you kind of get to express yourself with stories than just fun music,” Halei said.

She began dancing when she was just 4 years old. For the past nine years her dance instructor Natalie Pope at Dance Dynamics of Hattiesburg has seen her transform.

“She’s very hardworking," Pope said. "She’s determined to do something within the art of dance and she just loves it. You can tell when she’s on stage that she exudes that passion for the art.”

Her spotlight shines bright. Halei is being showcased in the Showstoppers Spring 2020 issue.

“I was really, really surprised," Halei said. "I had pretty much given up on the idea and though I was probably not going to get it.”

Showstoppers is a competition and it publishes a quarterly national magazine. Dancers Across America are showcased, and Halei is spotlighted representing the Magnolia State.

Her dreams don't stop there. She is setting her sights to be among the elite Radio City Rockettes.

“After becoming a Rockette, depending how old I am when I stop, at some point I also want to be on a dancer on Broadway,” Halei said.

As she works to accomplish her definition of success, she reminds others aspirations are obtainable.

“Just don’t give up," Halei said. "It’s going to be hard, but just keep trying.”

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