SNOHOMISH — Erik Linder, 17, of Lake Stevens, attends AIM High School in Snohomish, an alternative program with a flexible schedule that helps him meet the demands of his globe-trotting life as a dancer. Linder danced with Rickie Taylor, of Edmonds, until 2016. The local duo was well-known and together won several championships, appeared on TV shows, and met Oprah Winfrey — all before they were old enough to drive. Linder now dances with Shelly Meshkausk, of Boston, and lives in that city part-time for training.
Question: Tell us about the switch to a new dance partner.
Answer: Many people know I’d had one partner since I was 4 years old. So it was a 12-year span of partnership. My current dance partner I met at this dance camp and then we saw each other at the next competition. Sure enough, we started liking each other. We started dating. We did a long-distance relationship for like two years. After that much time we’re like, well, why don’t we just make this happen?
Q: You live in Boston half the year, plus competitions. It must be stressful flying all over the place.
A: It can be, but it’s also kind of nice. Since I was little I’ve traveled a lot. I call it opposite homesickness. If I’m home for too long or haven’t gone some place, I feel very unproductive.
Q: What’s your favorite place you’ve been?
A: I would have to say Paris … But all the times I’ve been there it’s been the the worst weather. You think Paris … you can just sit outside and sip coffee in the sun. But all the times I went it’s 35, 40 degrees, cloudy and rainy. The competition schedule, it always occurs in December. I’d love to go back there when it’s nice.
Q: How did you get into dancing?
A: My parents started taking lessons just to like, as something to do, something fun for them to enjoy. So sure enough, I come with them to the studio, and just sit there kind of bored. And eventually I decided, “Oh, maybe I can try this.”
Q: What do you feel when you’re on the dance floor?
A: You prepare — 98 percent of the time, that’s how you’re going to perform on the floor. So you can practice, practice, practice. And as soon as you get out on the floor, it’s that 2 percent that matters. … People think dancing, it’s so nice and fairy tale land. It’s a very deceptive sport. Put on a smile while you’re doing your workout and trying not to hit everyone. I’ve done a lot of different sports. And nothing has come as close to difficult as dancing.
Q: You’re finishing up high school. What classes are you taking?
A: A lot. I’m not the most bright student, I would say. I’m gone so much, and I’m so focused on doing everything else that, as many people tell me, when I have to “come back to reality” and face high school. … Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to see the world and see how things work. I never liked being in the classroom. … It’s a lot to do. But I told myself I’ll finish on time.
Q: Do you have a favorite subject?
A: It was just a one-semester class. It was U.S. and global economics. It intrigues me with how the economy works — not just in America, but internationally. When I was little, exchange rates always intrigued me.
Q: Do you have any post-high school plans?
A: It’s mainly focused on dancing. But I do have a possibility of taking some business classes or something to do with the investment realm. That would be good for me in the future if I’m negotiating a contract or if I see a good business opportunity.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I’m the biggest car fanatic, ever. I’ve spent way too much money on my car … (My parents) said, “You can have any car you want in the world — as long as you pay for it.”
Q: What is it like to be finishing senior year?
A: Honestly, it feels like getting a weight lifted off my shoulders. … All of my high school years I’ve been thinking what am I going to do that is really big outside of school. How can I make my career huge? And people say, “You still have to focus on school. You have to finish school.” And I think, “Who cares about school?” It will be nice not to have to focus on something else but to really see where things take me.
You can see video of Linder’s dancing at www.youtube.com/user/Besnock. Learn more at erikandshelly.com.