Local teen spreads her wings on center stage

The Reporter
Published: Wednesday, September 08, 2010

By Craig Ostroff
Managing Editor

Kristen Blundi is the first person to admit that she’s not the most talkative of people.

Well, maybe not the first.

Blundi isn’t the type of teen who is likely to ring up a thousand-dollar cell phone bill, but she has learned how to make her actions speak much louder than her words. Because while she may not exactly be a social butterfly, Blundi breaks out of her cocoon with dramatic flair once she spreads her wings on the dance floor.

“Everybody’s tried to make this girl talk, and she just smiles … and she dances,” said her mother, Tina Blundi, with a laugh. “The last two years she’s really come out of her shell, and her dancing’s improved dramatically since she started working with Ryan Tuerk [at the Dance Depot in Collegeville].

“Kristen is the type that will go to a dance class and stand in the back and hope that nobody notices her. But when they see her dance, then they pull her up front. She just loves to dance.”

It can be difficult to reconcile — being someone who prefers to be in the background, but whose talents bring her to the forefront. It’s not a problem for Blundi, however. She simply loses herself in the music and the motion.

“When you dance, you can be whoever you want,” Blundi said. “You can do whatever you want. I don’t know … I just love it.”

Though the 15-year-old from Obelisk may not seek out the spotlight, she’s certainly no stranger to it. Blundi said she’s been dancing since she was about 3 years old, and has studied jazz, tap, ballet and lyrical disciplines of dance. Nowadays she spends upwards of 15 hours a week in dance classes and practices, and the high school sophomore began classes this year at Lehigh Valley Charter School for the Performing Arts, where she will spend even more time refining her technique.

Earlier this year, Blundi auditioned for and was accepted into MM2 (formerly Music and Motion Dance Promotions) dance company. She is the only high school student among a troupe of eight, the rest of whom are all of college age or recent college graduates.

“Her dancing technique and also what she brings in terms of self-expression … is just wonderful,” said Steven Weisz, founder and artistic director of MM2. “It’s striking to watch on stage. She gets lost in dance, has a beautiful way of expressing herself and takes on a whole other persona when she’s on stage that’s just wonderful to watch.

“When all of the ingredients come together — technique, the ability to perform for the audience, the company interplay between dancers and self-expression — when it’s all there, then the magic happens. And we definitely saw that in her.”

For Blundi, trying out for MM2 was not about proving anything to anybody but herself. And it also offered her a chance to spend even more time dancing.

“I found the company online one day,” she said. “I just wanted to know that I could do it. I don’t normally do things like that. That was out of the box, to try out for something like this.”

Her past performances were likely a good indication of how she would fare in her tryout. In the past competition season, Blundi has racked up an eye-popping number of awards and accolades for her dance at local, regional and national competitions. Dancing to “Then You Looked at Me,” Blundi took top honors in her categories in events such as Access Broadway, Showstopper, Star Power, Beyond the Stars 2010 and the National Dance Showcase, in which she was also chosen for the Star Champions Performance Group.

Ask her mother what she believes is the young dancer’s greatest moment, and she’ll point not to any medal or certificate, nor even to a specific competition. For Tina Blundi, the greatest moment was the first time she saw a shy young girl blossom into a confident dancer.

“The first time she ever did a solo, everybody from our studio that saw her, cried,” Tina Blundi said. “Her coach cried, the owners cried, I cried, my husband cried. A lot of times if she’s dancing around the house, she doesn’t go full-out, she just kind of goes through the motions. But when she got up on stage it was so amazing. Everybody cried.”

Saturday, Blundi will become one of the youngest performers ever to grace the stage during the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe when she and her mates at MM2 dance company perform “Emergence” at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center.

For Blundi, however, it’s not about breaking age barriers or taking part in a prestigious local festival.

For Blundi, it’s all about spending time on the stage, doing what she does best, and what she loves most.

“I feel excited, and honored, I guess,” Blundi said of performing at the Philly Fringe Festival. Her voice begins to trail off, but not before adding, “I just want to dance. I just want to do what I love … wherever I can do it.”