Kellie Epperheimer Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self

September 14, 2016

For the past decade, Kellie Epperheimer has captivated Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s audiences with her graceful fluidity and elegant lines. Her raw, emotional performances and musical sensitivity make her an artist in every sense of the word. A Los Osos, CA, native, Epperheimer trained at the Academy of Dance and Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo, and spent a summer at The Juilliard School. She was a founding member of the Cedar Lake Ensemble (later renamed Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet), and joined Hubbard Street 2 in 2005. Since being promoted to the main company in 2007, she’s originated roles in pieces by choreographers including Kyle Abraham, Alonzo King and Twyla Tharp. Catch her at home in Hubbard Street’s Summer Series performances this June, and at this summer’s American Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and Chicago Dancing Festival. —Courtney Bowers

Dear Kellie,

What a journey you’ve begun—and it’ll be even better than you can imagine.

First, I want to remind you to stay curious, and to keep your eyes and mind open. There’s a lot you don’t know, but staying aware and adventurous will always guide you to greater knowledge. This world will offer you so much inspiration and beauty, and if you let yourself absorb it, it’ll be a wonderful way to grow—as an artist as well as a person. The people you work with and encounter will be your friends, your support and your family in art. You are so lucky you get to work with them, day in and day out. Never take that—or them—for granted.

You’ll definitely feel frustration throughout your career, but don’t
let that defeat you. Keep trying. Learn from each experience. Getting injured will never be easy, but if you nurture yourself correctly and patiently, the healing process will only make you stronger and wiser.

I also want to remind you to embrace the human parts of yourself. You’re not just a dancer, you’re a person, and your life will be more than what happens inside the studio. Stay grounded, maintain a sense of perspective, and you’ll find a healthy balance between yourself and your work. Don’t shy away from expressing yourself as a human, both onstage and off. Your real emotions and feelings are your color palette. Over time, your understanding of what dance is will shift and morph, and take many forms. Appreciate all of them—and stay grateful, little lady!