Age: 24 //
Occupation: M.F.A. Dance Student, Texas Women’s University //
Major at GC: Spanish, Minor: Dance, Dance Therapy
Why did you come to Georgia College?
I had the HOPE scholarship, so I was interested in going to an in-state school. I was interested in the the fact that Georgia College was a liberal arts school and also had a really great reputation. I wanted to go to a prestigious school and Georgia College offered everything I was looking for: education, dance, women’s studies and black studies.
What factors led you to continue your studies in dance at the graduate level?
I knew that I was just getting started in learning what I needed to be successful in the dance world and I’ve always been interested in academia. One of my dance mentors, Julie Mulvihill, told me I should go to graduate school for dance. I kind of laughed about it the first couple of time she said it, but then I realized that was the pathway I wanted to take because I knew I still had a lot to learn. I was interested in the academic setting, and with a Master's in Fine Arts, I would be able to teach at the collegiate level.
What’s it like being an M.F.A. student at Texas Women’s University?
It’s crazy busy. I’m in classes usually from morning to late afternoon, while also teaching. I teach a Dance and Globalization three-hour credit class that teaches West African dance forms. I’ll start the day either doing one of my techniques – right now I’m studying Korean dance – I take modern, in the past I took ballet. I’ll have a technique class every day, teach my class, and then in the afternoon I have some type of theory course. After that, I’m usually in rehearsals, choreographing, or in someone else’s piece.
Tell me a bit about your upcoming trip abroad. What are you working on?
This summer I am going to a summer dance intensive with Staibdance. I’ve turned it into a research project. I’m working with my school under a QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan) experiential scholarship, where I am presenting my research of what I’ve learned, choreographing a dance and putting on a performance. I’m working collaboratively with David Dingess, a GC alum, who is composing the music, and one of my good friends from high school is going to be designing my costumes. I’m taking the information that I’ll be learning from this intensive to inform my own choreographic process.
George Staib is a choreographer/educator based in Atlanta, Georgia. He does an intensive each summer, taking dancers out to Naples, Italy for two weeks with performances, classes and rehearsals.
What are your post-graduation goals?
There are a couple different routes. I definitely know I want to teach on the collegiate level, but I think I want to spend a little bit of time out in the field before returning to academia, since I will have never left it. I want to work on my own choreographic projects. I might start my own company. My interest is in choreography mainly, but I feel like the more I can do myself, the more I can give to my students when I come back to work on the university level.
I also want to spend some time abroad. I’m looking into applying for a Fulbright scholarship so I can do research abroad and come back and start working.
What is your favorite part about dancing?
Creative expression. I think it’s a great medium to communicate. There are a lot of issues economically, politically or personally that people want to talk about, but don’t know how to go about presenting these issues. I think dance is a great medium to get those conversations started and to get those points across either covertly or blatantly to audiences; to get them thinking and moving in new directions. I think art is a great reflection of what happens in society – it’s a mirror.
If you could choreograph for any dancer or group in the world, who would it be and why?
My personal favorite company is Alvin Ailey. I think that’s because they are one of the first companies that inspired me to do dance. That would be a great opportunity because it would bring it full circle for me. It’s where my passion initially started, so coming back and being able to work with them in a different way would be my goal.
Favorite era for dance?
I draw a lot of influence from different eras. The emergence of post-modern dance, especially ‘80s and ‘90s, have influenced who I am personally as a dancer because of who trained me.
But I’m really interested in the era that we’re in now, because it’s not so specific in genre. Before, everything was strictly ballet, and then early modern dance form, but now I think people are interested in fusion and drawing from all these different eras and aspects. I’m really curious to see how dance today will emerge and change.
What’s on your bucket list?
My main one is to travel. I love traveling and I haven’t done enough of it. I would love to see the world. I’m very interested in culture. My bucket list would be to hit as a many countries as I could, personally, and for working with dance, either bringing dance to other places or learning the dances that are already in those places.
Any advice for current students interested in getting an M.F.A.?
Know that you can do it. When I first played with the idea of graduate school, I was very nervous and insecure about my ability to do my passion. First, believe in yourself. Second, work hard. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get there, and even more hard work to continue through it.
Ask questions. Use your resources that are around you now. Use your teachers who are teaching you dance – the dance world is so small, one person might know another person.
Don’t think you have to have all the problems solved. You don’t have to know what your interest is or what your life research will be about when you’re applying for graduate school. Let that happen with time, as you learn more.