Kierstyn Tupa travels her way to success
October 25, 2015
After hopping out of a plane at the LAX airport, junior Kierstyn Tupa hits the gym, grabs a smoothie and heads to her modeling shoot or dance class for that day. Day in and day out in Los Angeles, while balancing family, friends, and school in Stillwater can be quite the challenge for 16 year old Kierstyn. But for friends and family, they could not be more proud of her accomplishments.
Kierstyn mirrors the life of a celebrity by traveling to LA every other weekend for dance and modeling. As a 16 year old, missing out on dances, football games and parties with friends may seem unfortunate, but for Kierstyn, it is worth it.
Dance from then to now
Tupa started dance at the age of two at Larkin Dance Studio. She has spent countless hours throughout her childhood and teen years dancing at her studio and has now traveled throughout the United States for dance conventions.
Traveling for dance has created a new world for Tupa. She said, “[Traveling] has for sure made dancing more fun. Because growing up at a studio, I never knew what else was out there.”
Tupa received a scholarship as an Elite Protégé with The Pulse on Tour, a traveling dance organization. She has traveled to Las Vegas, New York City, Chicago and many more cities around the United States.
The Pulse has really changed the game of dancing for Tupa. “It opened so many doors for me in the industry, created close relationships with top working choreographers, and I have met the majority of my best friends as an elite,” said Kierstyn.
Kierstyn’s mother Jill Tupa has also had experiences she has enjoyed while traveling with Kierstyn. Although she does not travel to Los Angeles every time with her, or to every dance convention, she has met many friends and choreographers because of Tupa’s dance.
“My favorite part of traveling with her is all the people we have met along the way. I can honestly say that some of her best friends and mine live all across the United States and Canada, people that we consider family. And some of the relationships that we’ve developed with choreographers that have shaped who she’s become and where she is heading with dance, ” said Jill.
Tupa no longer takes class at Larkin Dance Studio, rather she takes class in Minneapolis at various performing arts schools. When she is out of town, she will take classes in the cities she travels to as well.
Tupa has had a lot of experience with dance and it has affected her life in many ways. “I started dancing when I was two, so I never really knew anything other than dance,” she explained. “I have met a lot of my best friends through dance and it has taught me a ton about relationships and how to work with people, also how to be a leader.”
Her modeling career takes off
Tupa’s modeling life began through her dance studio, which is where her modeling career boomed. She got her first agency through dance, and now has an agency in Minneapolis, Arquette Talents, and in Los Angeles, L.A. Models.
Tupa described her agencies and said, “They are basically my eyes and ears in the modeling and dancing world. They hire you and book you for any auditions, so if there is a casting wanting a certain look, and you match it, they are going to send you out to the auditions. They basically give you the opportunities.”Just as dance has, modeling has positively affected Tupa’s life. She has started to eat healthier, as well as go vegetarian for the purposes of her body, as well as modeling.
“Modeling has put my physical fitness into perspective because when I was younger, all I did was dance and I never realized how important it is to be healthy and because of modeling, I changed my eating habits and I actually care about my body now”, Tupa said.
As people assume, modeling can put some pressure on body types and facial looks. Tupa has even had to change the color of her hair to work in the industry.
To her, the comments you receive in the industry depend on the way you look at it. “[The modeling business] puts pressure in some aspects. It depends on how hard you take it personally. They are always going to want you to change something. They always want something different from you. It depends on how you perceive it, I just try to stay positive and keep an open mind because everyone is going to have a different opinion on you,” Tupa said.
She has modeled for many small places, as well as some larger ones such as Pillow Pets, Scheels, and Platos Closet
The affect of traveling on her life
For Tupa, traveling has been a result of her dance and modeling career. Her main destination for both of them is Los Angeles, California. She is gone for weekends and even weeks out of the year to pursue what she loves. Being away from friends and family that long can create all sorts of dynamics on her interpersonal relationships.
Junior Kathleen Billingsley, Tupa’s best friend, has been by her side since the beginning of junior high. Billingsley explained the positive and negative affects on her and Tupa’s relationship when she is gone. She said, “Me and Kierstyn are so close so when we are reunited after she’s been gone its like we saw each other yesterday, but when she’s gone it sucks because I miss her more than anything- but I’m happy for her and I want her to achieve her dreams.”
For her family, it can be quite difficult as well. Tupa lives with two younger siblings, Logan and Quinn, and has an older sister in college at Iowa State University. Her mom and dad live with her as well.
When Tupa is away, both her and her family struggle with her absence. Jill said, “For her, her social life has definitely taken a hit. When she made the decision to travel for dancing, it also meant that she lost most of her social circle at school. Being away for long stretches for dance and modeling means that she’s missed almost every dance, a lot of football games, hockey games and things that make up a normal high school experience. For us, its been hard to be away from part of your family for long stretches at a time. She’s been traveling extensively since she was 13, with either one of her parents with her when she was younger, to now, she’ll travel alone and be gone for over a month at a time.”
As a 16 year old who has traveled most of the country, modeled for many jobs, and has danced with some of the top choreographers in the dancing industry, one could say she has many accomplishments. Both Jill, Billingsley, and herself have high hopes for her future.
Billingsley said she sees Tupa, “On every billboard, on every talk show, achieving all her dreams. If anyone can accomplish everything they hope to, it’s her, and that’s what I know she’ll do.”
Tupa is hopeful for what she has going for her in the future. She wants to make a career out of dance or modeling, but said the industry is, “hard to stay in long term.” She continues to take opportunities to meet more people in the industry and get as many connections as she can to make the most out of what she is doing.
Billingsley said, “I’ve never seen a human work harder in my life. She doesn’t get to go to every party, or always hang out with friends because she’s taking an extra class to get all the more better and it amazes me how hard working she is. Yes she has talent, but its mostly hard work and that’s hard to find in people.”