Senior Sleigh Ride: Spotlight on Gabe Wittrup

Gabe Wittrup brings his love for dance to the SHS community


Gabe Wittrup aspires to be a professional dancer

Leiney Smith, Staff Writer

Next on the Senior Sleigh ride, we are featuring Gabriel “Gabe” Wittrup. Gabe has a more interesting backstory than most; he is originally from Europe. He is a figure of leadership at SHS, as acting co-president of the Gender-Sexualities Alliance (GSA) club. He has also spent the majority of his life dancing, favoring ballet. 

Before 2017, Gabe lived in Switzerland. His favorite memories involve his annual New Year’s Eve tradition. His family, joined with close family friends, would travel together to Europapark in Germany. Europapark is the largest theme park in Germany and the second most popular theme park in the entirety of Europe. The vast amusement park accounted for some of Gabe’s most fond memories, traversing the park with friends he counted as cousins, and enjoying the fireworks and anticipation of the new year. To Gabe, it was “the best thing ever” and possibly the thing he misses most from his life in Switzerland. 

Another aspect of living in Europe that Gabe misses is traveling. Because of the proximity of the countries in Europe, Gabe was able to travel often, recalling “France was a ferry trip away” and could simply be a day trip. Out of all the places he has experienced, Paris was the most memorable. He has been twice and it remains firm as his favorite. The most impressive anecdote Gabe recounted was when he visited six different countries in the span of 24 hours. From start to finish he toured Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Liechtenstein. 

Obviously traveling is a huge part of Gabe’s upbringing. Around five and half years ago, Gabe moved to the States, before eighth grade. His transition to Gates was difficult, as one would expect, being uprooted to a foreign country in time for middle school. His only regret from high school and middle school stemmed from this. His attempt to adjust to this major change was to mirror those around him in an attempt to fit in. Gabe’s regret and advice to his past self are to be himself unapologetically: “I wish I knew to be myself when I arrived.” 

Since then Gabe has made leaps and bounds, becoming co-president of the GSA, where he met his best friend. He describes the encounter as his most favorite memorable moment during his high school years. He decided to attend a meeting in the middle of his freshman year and met his best friend, Lauren Bernstein. He says he can’t remember the specific details exactly, but the feeling of belonging and inclusion was something he hadn’t felt yet in his American school experience. 

Dance has always been a part of Gabe’s life and was his constant during an onslaught of change. He has been dancing for over ten years, but with an emphasis on ballet for around six years, starting when he was 11 but he had to take a year off during eighth grade. What Gabe deems his most significant accomplishment is attached to dance. For a few summers now he has been attending Burklyn Ballet Theatre Camp in Vermont. It is an intensive dance camp where the attendees are expected to learn new choreography and perform for a crowd of around 200 at the end of each week. A challenge so intimidating would be enough to scare away most, but Gabe returned for four weeks this summer. The grueling schedule consists of rehearsal each day for a minimum of over 2 hours (not including the dancer’s free time spent practicing) with four performances learned and performed over four weeks. The world-class coaching and level of dance is something Gabe will treasure for years. The passion and dedication to his art powered him through the camp, along with the like-minded friends he was able to connect to during his stay.

Gabe’s goal is to land at a school in New York City and to continue ballet at whichever college or university he ultimately attends. He loves New York City, as he wants to live in a city. This stems from wanting to be in the middle of the bustle and wanting a “change in scenery.” His second goal is to find an opportunity to study abroad in Europe–possibly Switzerland. He would enjoy the chance to see old faces and sites from his childhood, as well as to travel as much as he possibly can.

When asked who he would bring, out of anyone in the world, on the Senior Sleigh Ride, Gabe answered without hesitation by saying he would bring his best friend, Lauren Bernstein. He spoke of her with high praise: “I definitely would not be the person I am without her.”