Dancing: What's the Pointe?

By Devyn Bernal – May 1, 2016
photography by Kevin Garner; hair/makeup by Emily Hedicke, Priv

Dancing prodigies Gracie Coates and Monroe Cline are only 17 years old, but have been living out their passion for nearly 15 years—and neither have any intention of slowing down. Both are high school juniors living in Austin, training at Alisa’s Dance Academy. Combined, they are a force to be reckoned with, with many medals and titles to their name. Individually, Coates appreciates lyrical while Cline loves a good hip hop routine, but the two girls will win you over instantly on and off the floor with their grace, positive energy and smiles. What's even more impressive is that these girls are able to balance a life of  competitive dancing, practice, school and a social life.

Coates, a third-generation dancer, has been moving for as long as she can remember. “My mother and my grandmother were both on their school’s dance teams,” Coates said. “I considered that option, but chose to put all my time and effort in competitive dancing instead. But I love that we have it in common!” 

When Coates isn’t practicing her routines, preparing her classes, or hanging out with friends, she’s preparing for her summer climb on Mount Kilimanjaro. She enjoyed her spring break because she was able to train for the climb by running long distances with a weighted backpack. Needless to say, she’s in great shape and will be well-prepared for the trip. “I’m lucky to have traveled around a lot, but I’m very excited to do this hike with my community group,” Coates said.


Meanwhile, Cline can be found running around Lady Bird Lake or working out at her local gym when she’s not in the studio. “I rarely have free time, but I’m not sure what I would do with it anyway,” Cline said. “I had a couple of hours to myself the other day and I got bored.”

Cline is looking forward to her senior year, and hopes to continue on to Los Angeles in pursuit of a degree and career in dancing. Her sisters were dancers as well, and although they put up their dancing shoes long ago, Cline has aspirations to make it big. Both girls have made it to 3 out of 4 levels in their prestigious dance program, and the next step is leading their own dance show before they graduate. “I just hope to inspire others to dance,” Cline said with a smile on her face. “You have to be fearless, and you can’t be afraid to fall.”

For exercise, the girls typically dance for about five hours each weekday after school, plus at various conferences and competitions on the weekend. Every practice starts with a 5-minute plank, except when an additional 30 seconds is tacked on for every classmate who is late. With only two 15-minute breaks throughout the week, the girls are constantly on the move. So how do these elite dancers keep up their energy for dance classes during the week and competitions on the weekends? Unlike many of their peers, it doesn’t stem from any kind of sugar high.

“Every now and then we might splurge and go to Amy’s Ice Cream,” Cline says. “But that’s mostly because it’s close to the studio.” Instead, the girls enjoy seafood, beans, nuts, and many green vegetables. The girls have become in tune with their bodies, and know what’s best to eat before and during competitions… especially if they’re wearing a two-piece produced by Coates’s mother’s clothing company. Neither drinks caffeine or has a sweet tooth, but the only key difference is that Cline doesn’t eat meat. Her mother is a pescatarian, and she has followed suit. 

Both Coates and Cline are excited to finish out their dance program with “Miss Alise” at her dance studio, and look forward to what the future brings. With a team trip to Italy this summer, and Nationals next year, they plan on giving this sport every ounce they’ve got. “At the end of the day, you have to work as a team, use all muscles, and give it everything you’ve got,” Coates said. “And always dance on!” Cline added. 


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