We had the good fortune of connecting with Sydney Tyra and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sydney, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking is crucial for any form of growth. However, it’s arguably one of the most scary parts of the overall precariousness that is growth. Personally, I’m wired in a way that enjoys predictability and schedule. Risk often turns these comfortable routines upside down. However, I have learned that embracing discomfort is key for really any pursuit in life. Discomfort is not ideal; for the most part, it is human to seek pleasure and contentedness. However, fearing discomfort will only keep us in one place. Thinking about my life in a big picture, the few moments of scariness and anxiety only lasted such a small amount in comparison to the rewards it brought me. As a ballet dancer, discomfort is a familiar feeling to me; I have learned to push through difficult moments to reach the euphoria of performing, achieving a difficult skill, or advancing to a new level. I have fallen, I’ve cried, and I’ve danced through raw blisters rubbing in my pointe shoes, and yet I wouldn’t wish to remove these experiences if I could go back. I’ve learned that moments of pain are not necessarily something we need to avoid, but rather something we can grow from. One of the most distinct memories of my risk taking paying off was making the decision with my family to move so I could pursue ballet at a higher level. I was only 14 at the time, a time full of uncertainty, new experiences, and change. It was the summer between and 8th grade and high school that I moved. I remember going to orientation for my new school, and coming home and sobbing. I felt so much loneliness; it was hard for me to process that this change had become reality, and I was no longer going to experience life as I had known it ever again. Moving at such a vulnerable time in my life was a huge risk. I was plagued with the thought: what if it was the wrong thing to do? However, as soon as I stepped foot into my first ballet class at Marin Ballet, I immediately felt my anxiety melt away. I remembered what inspired me and drove me to pursue this risk in the first place. I improved so much through my increased ballet training and found so many opportunities and friendships through taking this risk. That’s why I would never change this choice even if I had the chance to. Taking a leap of faith was not easy, but it gave not only me, but all of my family members a new start and fresh avenues to pursue what really ignited our souls. At the end of the day, chasing that fire is crucial, otherwise you’ll live your life burning out in the same place you started.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I like to think I have been a dancer from the very beginning of my life; I’ve always been told stories about my performances in the backyard for my family, singing and dancing my heart out. I started training at a studio at the age of 8, and I still remember my first ballet class. I was with my mom in Target after she picked me up, and I remember excitedly practicing all of the new things I had just learned, flabbergasted at how my ankles could possibly pretzel into such positions. From that day on, I’ve always found a home in the studio, even if it meant crying there, finally achieving a new skill, or laughing with my dance friends. As I grew, I definitely questioned my journey in dance and even took some time off. However, I knew in my heart that dance would always be there for me. Now, I study at UC Irvine, pursuing a double major in dance and psychological sciences. Having the opportunity to work with such amazing faculty and continue my training past high school and work towards a potential career with it is so special. Not only can I further my dance training, but my academic knowledge as well, allowing to the future to hold many options. Expressing myself through dance and modeling has been such a wonderful outlet for me. I consider myself a generally quiet person, but with a fierce determination nonetheless. These art forms allow me to show that side of myself that I might usually keep reserved in an everyday setting. Learning how far my body can take me when I push myself and work hard always amazes me, and I have discovered how to appreciate my body for what it does for me and treat it with respect. I have learned the importance of tenacity through my art and have gained such an appreciation for the small details. Being confident is crucial for these art forms, and as I’ve grown I’m learning what it means and what it takes to be confident. It’s not easy and some days are harder than others. As an artist, I’ve accepted both the easy and the hard days. Sometimes the hard days are exactly what I need to propel my creations. It can be harmful, in my opinion, to label emotions as good or bad. I have tried to learn how to simply feel them, free of judgment, and this is where some of my best expression through art comes from.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
While I have only lived in the Southern California area for a few months, I have found some amazing gems and places to visit. If my friend were to visit, I’d be sure to make sure we spent a day at the beach Crystal Cove, and get lunch at the Shake Shack. Another day would be spent shopping – one of my favorite places to shop is The Camp, a eco-friendly shopping center in Costa Mesa with delicious restaurants and a consignment store I could get lost in for hours admiring the vintage pieces. Of course, Disneyland is always a classic, nostalgic place and I’d love to share that magic with a friend. I’d definitely make sure to take them on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – it’s been around since 1955, so the vibes of it are just incredible! I’d also be sure to take them to Aldrich Park, the park at the center of UC Irvine. This place is such a safe haven for me. I can come here to walk, tan, do yoga, read, listen to music or just absorb the sounds of nature. I would love to share that experience with someone and allow them to take in the lovely nature and campus architecture surrounding them. A lot of the area is new to me, so I’d probably be doing just as much exploring new places as my friend visiting, but that is always a blast – especially as we are surrounded by beaches, hikes, restaurants and shopping, and in gorgeous weather too!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?

I would like to shoutout Oliver Endahl, creator of Ballet Zaida, for helping guide me in the world of modeling and building my social media brand. I have learned so much from him about what it means to be an artist. Some of the most significant things I have learned from collaborating with him is approaching creating in a way that comes from within rather than for external validation. Creating solely for an end result to be seen by others can make art feel superficial. Authenticity is born when you simply lay everything you feel out. Not everything has to be Instagram worthy – art is so much more than that! Vulnerability is scary, but it’s what makes art so special and allowed to be felt by so many people.
Additionally, my family has always been my hugest support. I was never pressured by them to be successful, only guided towards what I yearned for. When I was younger, my parents would drive me to San Francisco every weekend in January to audition for ballet summer intensives. I may not have realized it at the time, but I was beyond lucky to have so much help from them. They were the supportive eyes in the crowd when I’d exit the studio, waiting for me to tell them all about how the audition went. We as a family have grown so much together and learned so much about how to be there for one another. Navigating growing up, especially growing up as a dancer and the competitive nature of its world, is not easy. Having people to help you back up when you inevitably fall on your journey is such a treasure, and I don’t know what I would do without them.

Instagram: @sydney.tyra

Image Credits
Oliver Endahl, @balletzaida

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