Hartley Peck: we [are] able to just go on stage and have the time of our lives


Credit: Courtesy of Hartley Peck

Peck bends her back leg into an attitude as she preforms her solo on the competition stage. “My favorite thing about competitive dance is that you get a lot of adrenaline in the moment because it’s so high pressure, but also really fun,” Peck said. Peck is dances with both Window Dance Ensemble and Broadway Bound Dance Center.

Jessica Reilly

While many Wayland students might be familiar with junior Hartley Peck from her performances with the Window Dance Ensemble, Peck’s dancing extends far beyond the WHS theater. Peck dances at the competitive level with Broadway Bound Dance Center(BBDC), in Natick, MA. She is well rounded by her experience with different dance groups and genres of dance.

“Inside of school, I’m a part of Window Dance Ensemble, and we basically do all styles of dance,” Peck said. “Similarly, for my competitive dance team I do outside of school, I do lots of styles of dance.”

While the difference between these two groups may not seem apparent to an outside eye, the groups vary in intensity, experience and intention.

“For Broadway Bound, we go every week and work on our routines. Our routines are made to compete and score at a competition,” Peck said. “Whereas for Window, our routines [are finished] all in one week and it’s for a show. So theres a different intention behind it.”

In Window Dance Ensemble, team members are united in their practices and performances. However, the team dynamic at BBDC takes a different structure, as students are combined in different arrangements for specific routines.

“Our dances have different people in them depending on the style, but there is kind of a large group of high schoolers who are in the same dances and stuff,” Peck said. “It’s not like a specific team where I’m always with the same people, but a large group of people that I’m with for different dances.”

Due to the difference in the planning behind these performances, there’s also a difference in the intensity of each group.

“Broadway Bound is definitely a lot more intense: it’s all year round, which Window is not,” Peck said. “It’s a lot more pressure because of the way that competitive dance is versus a performance where you’re not being judged by judges and it’s more for the enjoyment of the audience.”

While the high intensity and pressure of the competitive dance environment may seem overwhelming, it also happens to be the reason Peck loves to compete.

“My favorite thing about competitive dance is that you get a lot of adrenaline in the moment because it’s so high pressure, but also really fun,” Peck said. “You also put a lot of work into certain routines and you work on it every week. Normally, if you have a good routine and it scores really well, it’s exciting to know that you put in all that hard work to get a good score.”

Aside from the intensity and scoring of competitions, the ability for Peck to immerse herself in a dance and perform with energy is also a driving force of her passion for competitive dance.

“Last year I had a tap dance, and me and my friends are definitely not the best tappers in general, but we had a really fun tap dance that is just really high energy.” Peck said. “We worked hard at it and it was definitely one of the worst skilled dances that we had, but we just had lots of fun and got super into it. The music was really fun and we had fun props and stuff, so we were able to just go on stage and have the time of our lives.”

Across Peck’s performances with Broadway Bound Dance Center and her choreography for Window Dance Ensemble, a particular genre has become her favorite.

“My favorite style is jazz because I feel that there is a lot of variety to it, and it’s really fun,” Peck said. “You can express yourself in many ways all within the same style.”

With her passion for jazz, Peck has choreographed a series of dances for Window in both her freshman and sophomore seasons.

“What I like about being able to choreograph is that sometimes when you see someone else choreographing a dance, you get ideas in your head or sometimes when you hear a song, you get a vision for a dance,” Peck said. “As a dancer that just happens, so it’s really cool to actually make that vision happen, which you can’t do when someone else is choreographing it.”

In addition to the creative aspect of having the platform to choreograph her own dance and fulfill her visions, Peck also has an appreciation for the community she is a part of through Window.

“My favorite thing about Window is that because there isn’t a lot of people who dance at Wayland High School, it’s fun to have a community of people who have done dance and understand the culture of dance,” Peck said.

Yet, the joys of the communities and performances Peck has curated through her experience with both dance groups have not come easily. Managing a busy dance schedule with the demands of school work had been a challenge for Peck.

“I do a lot of staying up late, but I try to get as much [school work] done when I can in between. It can get difficult sometimes because I’ll sometimes have to leave Window early to go to competitive dance, or miss a bit of my dance class because I’m running late or have homework I have to do,” Peck said. “So sometimes it’s hard to balance. But normally, our competition season ends just as Window gets more intense right before our show, so it normally works out pretty well.”