Shelby Bylsma, Rachel Henglish give their all for their art

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Shelby Bylsma, back, and Rachel Henglish have been able to fulfill their ambitions as dancers with Dance Vision.The legendary film “The Red Shoes” is about a young dancer who puts on a pair of enchanted shoes and from then on cannot stop dancing.

Neither can Shelby Bylsma or Rachel Henglish. The two 16-year-old juniors at Lakeridge High School are members of the elite Dance Vision team, and their dedication to dancing is incredible. They dance 20 hours a week, and on many weekends when they go to conventions/competitions they have to start dancing at 8:30 a.m. and keep dancing for over 12 hours.

The two girls sigh at the thought.

“It is so exhausting when we come home at night at 9:45 after dancing all day,” said Henglish. “It’s hard to keep everything in the right balance, like homework. Sometimes it seems that Shelby is the only person that I see.”

The truth can be funny, and Henglish and Bylsma sometimes laugh at the astonishing demands made upon their lives. They are certainly aware of the price of such dedication. But they are willing — even joyful — to pay it. Dedication, exhaustion and obsession were never so much fun.

“We wanted to do something really different,” Henglish said. “This is it.”

“There is no season for dance,” Bylsma said. “We’re in such a busy time now from January through March. It’s fun because it’s so challenging.”

Challenges in dancing is something the girls have been seeking since they were quite small. Bylsma has been dancing since she was in the third grade, and Henglish was once quite the little ballerina.

“I studied with Donna Morris (choreographer at Lakewood Center for the Arts) for two years,” she said. “I was en pointe and I played the Snow Queen.”

The girls kept right on dancing and were even teammates on the Lakeridge dance team, which they called “a really good experience.”

But they wanted more, and together they began searching for where they could get it. They settled on Dance Vision.

“It was different and it was challenging,” Bylsma said. “It offered ballet, contemporary and lyrical dancing. Dance Vision’s purpose is to train you to be professional dancers.”

While the girls greatly expanded their dance horizons, however, qualifying for Dance Vision’s elite senior team seemed to be only a dream. This dream came true.

“To our surprise we made it,” Bylsma said.

“I was sitting in advanced communications class when Shelby came in,” Henglish said. “She told me, ‘We made it!’ and we started crying. We had worked so hard for it.”

That was when their real work began because, as Henglish said, “With Dance Vision you can never stop improving.”

Their lives virtually became dance marathons.

Kelly Bylsma, Shelby’s mother, said, “On some days they start dancing at 8:30 a.m. in the morning and don’t stop until midnight.”

But at the endless stream of conventions and competions, the two girls receive only the finest instruction.

“Our choreographers are flown in to conventions,’ Henglish said. “They’re incredibly elite and amazing.”

“Dance Vision is everything we could have wanted,” Bylsma said.

One other big plus for Bylsma and Henglish is that they have a great role model. Montana Efaw, a former Lakeridge student, is lead dancer for Lady Gaga. Efaw’s mother Wendy is the director of Dance Vision in Oregon City, and Efaw sometimes comes in as a guest lecturer.

For more about Dance Vision in Oregon City, visit

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