After 15 years of dancing, Baxter's Sylvia Borash took her talents to the big stage last year and started acting. Now she's getting ready for her second production, where she'll star as Elle Woods in Pequot Lakes Community Theater's staging of "Legally Blonde the Musical."
Though acting wasn't originally part of Borash's plan, dancing helped propel her in that direction.
"I had a lot of experience on the stage and a little bit of acting because when you dance you want to tell a story through your movement," she said. "But it's definitely very different when you get up on stage and you have dialogue."
That dance experience started when Borash was just 3 years old, though her mom tried to start her a year earlier. But the shy 2-year-old wasn't keen on being in the spotlight.
"She was persistent," Borash said of her mom, Amy. "She put me back in when I was 3, and I danced ever since."
The dancer has dabbled in various styles, such as ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, ballroom and hip hop. But tap is Borash's favorite, so she moved to Chicago to pursue that after graduating from Brainerd High School in 2016.
"I joined a tap company out there called Chicago Tap Theatre," she said. "I didn't really know where I wanted to go to college yet, and all I really wanted to do was dance ... So my mom and dad were really supportive."
Borash took online general classes at Central Lakes College during the three months she was in Chicago and then enrolled full time when she came back. Her next step is Bemidji State University, where she'll start working toward her teaching degree in the fall.
Dancing also led Borash to that decision, as she started assistant teaching at Music General dance school - where she also took classes - at about 12 years old.
"It's just been really fun to watch little kids that ... were like 5 when I started teaching, and now they're 13," Borash said. "It's really cool to see them progress and how they change over the year ... I think it's probably that that really drew me to teaching was the progression in kids and seeing them grow."
Borash isn't yet sure what area of teaching she'd like to go into, but she has time to figure that out. For now, her focus is on acting.
Her first small taste of theater came during her senior year of high school, when she joined a capella and took part in the group's annual production that included short skits.
"It's not a huge role or anything like that, but I was the jester," Borash said. "The jesters are just these goofballs that just run around and have fun with people, and that was so much fun for me to do."
Brainerd Community Theatre's production of "Nunsense" last year then became Borash's first big acting role, thanks to her mother's suggestion.
"My mom was actually in that play when she was my age, so she was like, 'You totally have to audition; you would love this play,'" she said. "So I auditioned, and I got the part. And it was so much fun."
Borash's mother grew up as an actress and delighted in her daughter's newfound interest for the art.
"She loved seeing me enjoy it as much as I do," Borash said.
Both mother and daughter get to continue that enjoyment with "Legally Blonde the Musical," as Borash's mom is the director.
"It's actually really fun," Borash said of her mom directing the musical. "And it's really nice because I'm really forgetful, so I'll think of some random question that I need to ask her at random moments of the day. So if I do have questions on something, I can just text her."
The family involvement doesn't stop there, as Borash's sister is a dancer in the show, and her dad is working sound.
As Elle Woods in "Legally Blonde the Musical," Borash said she enjoys playing the nice girl that everyone genuinely likes.
"I like how she's super optimistic and she's super confident in herself and about what her capabilities are," the actress said. "She's a lot more than this ditzy valley girl."
Because Borash didn't get into acting until age 18, she encourages anyone who has the slightest interest to give it a shot, regardless of age.
"You can be any age, and you can jump right in. And the community is more than willing to bring you in with open arms," she said. "Even if it's just a small part, try it; it's so much fun. ... So just do it."
"Legally Blonde the Musical"
What: Pequot Lakes Community Theater production
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, July 12-14, and Tuesday-Thursday, July 18-20
Where: Pequot Lakes High School theater
Cost: $14 for adults, $12 for seniors age 60 and over, and $10 for youth ages 18 and under.
For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.glapa.info or call Pequot Lakes Community Education at 218-855-9200.