January 31, 2023

By Jessica Bills

A&E Editor


Raven Gantt, junior journalism major, has been dancing since she was three years old, winning competitions since the age of 12 and teaching dance for the past three years.

Her story as a dancer is one of continual rediscovery as she reinvents her passion for her art.

Many children are signed up by their parents to play peewee baseball or to take ballet lessons. Generally, the child sticks with the activity until burnout sets in. However, in rare instances like Gantt’s, a love for the hobby grows into a lifelong desire.

Gantt started her dance career at Backstreet Performing Arts in downtown Riverside until she moved to Just Plain Dancin’ & Co. in Corona, where she said she received the “bulk of technical training.”

Gantt danced competitively for Just Plain Dancin’ & Co. in 2008, when it was voted North America’s top studio.

She explained that dancers compete within their own ranking, where platinum is the highest level attainable. Gantt reached that  level at 13.

“I guess I won a lot,” Gantt said with a chuckle about her innumerable awards from many years of competitive dancing.

Gantt stayed with Just Plain Dancin’ & Co. until she graduated high school. However, her relationship with the art was not over.

“I found a new way to keep it fresh by teaching,” Gantt said.

She returned to Backstreet Performing Arts as a teacher for young, aspiring dancers ages 7 to 17.

“Recently I found teaching is a big passion of mine,” Gantt said.  “I want to teach them about life, about being a well-rounded person.”

Gantt has received three awards for her choreography: Nextstar’s Choreography Award, Spotlight Dance Cup Outstanding Choreography and Federation of Dance Competition People’s Choice Award.

This summer, Universal Dance Association sent her all over the country to help with its camps.

Gantt is a transfer student this fall aiming towardsa journalism degree for broadcasting, which she sees as a different kind of performing. While her competition career has ended, dance will always be part of her life.

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