Spotlight artist of the Issue: Eleora Ephrem

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Photo courtesy of Eleora Ephrem

Senior Eleora Ephrem dances in her bedroom. Ephrem began posting dance covers of songs at the beginning of quarantine.

Numerous WJ students have found their calling in the arts, tirelessly devoting their time to their craft for hours and days at a time. From music to pottery to painting, much of the work developed by students involves skilled hands and a creative mindset. Senior Eleora Ephrem, however, has found a way to relish the meticulousness and expressive freedom of art to more than just her hands, able to utilize her whole body to explore her talents. Ephrem’s fervor lies in dance, a passion that she has turned to from an early age.

“I started dancing, probably… my whole life, but I started actively practicing when I was probably 11,” Ephrem said.

Ephrem’s burning passion for dance likely first blossomed when she was 10 years old, coinciding with her family’s move to Ethiopia. What she gained, though, was more than just a new cultural experience and a strengthened connection to her heritage: she gained a familial bond that inspires her to this day.

“[Ethiopia] was really different and really weird, and they were some cousins that I had no clue about or knew even existed, and we just bonded really quickly over the fact that we loved to dance,” Ephrem said.

Despite the cultural disconnect she experienced in her first months in the country, she took solace in dancing with her newfound family. From then on, dance was no longer a way to pass the time—it became a way for her to express herself and cherish her experiences.

This was an outlook she carried with her when she returned to the US at the end of her sophomore year, three weeks before quarantine in 2020.

“That’s the time where I improved the most in such a short amount of time,” Ephrem said.

Despite the challenges of quarantine, Ephrem was able to continue on with dancing on a more rigorous level. She began posting dances of herself on her Instagram account @eleo16_covers as a way of tracking her progress and uploads consistently to this day.

Behind each upload is a meticulous multi-step process. “It’s different whether I freestyle or cover or make my own choreo,” Ephrem said.

With a cover of an existing dance, Ephrem practices in front of a mirrored and often-silent version of that dance and spends hours upon hours perfecting each section of the choreography. Sometimes, she opts to craft her own routine for the song; she begins by listening to it on repeat while visualizing a variety of different motions, often rehearsing them at her desk or facing a mirror and eventually creating a solidified composition to perform.

Freestyling, as the name implies, involves Ephrem performing impromptu with a live playing of a song.
While she doesn’t restrict herself to certain genres, Ephrem is more attracted to performing songs that inspire her and give her confidence. “When I’m down to it, I feel like I love doing a lot more—I don’t want to say, like, sexy—but more, like, seductive or powerful songs… They give me bad bitch energy,” Ephrem said.

Ephrem dances for more than just enjoyment. When she first came to WJ, she joined APro, a K-pop based dance club, which spurred her to expand her creative activities. She also participates in various competitions through Instagram, sometimes being recognized by several renowned dance artists for her work.

Dance is an integral part of Ephrem’s life and is a passion that she hopes to continue for countless years ahead. “I actively always practice dance. Even when I’m sitting in my seat, I tap my feet to the beat of a song that’s stuck in my head. I just always dance,” Ephrem said.

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