Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Degree: BFA in Dance with a Minor in Psychology
Where are you now and what are you doing?
I live in San Francisco, working to build bridges between dance and the greater community. I accomplish that goal through teaching dance in Elementary schools and dance studio, in addition to working as JUNTOSCollective’s Programs Director, a non-profit dance organization committed to uplifting the human spirit and connecting people through dance in The Bay Area, New York, Boston, Mexico, Nicaragua and Guatemala. With JUNTOS, I have had the opportunity to develop and scale programs and lead groups of university dancers to do community outreach abroad. I scratch my ever present performance itch by participating in community accessible performances, my current favorite being Super Serious Post Modern Dance Variety Hour, a comedy show designed to invite audiences to view contemporary dance through humor and lightness.
How would you describe your experience in the LINES BFA Program at Dominican in just three words?
Open-mindedness is key. (Three words is tricky!)
What is one memory or lesson that stands out to you most in your post-BFA Program life?
While there isn’t one particular “aha” moment that comes to mind, the program encouraged autonomy as an artist and scholar which has proven to be important time after time in my life as a freelance artist. During the BFA, because I never felt I had to fit a pre-prescribed mold as a dancer, I had the freedom to develop a deeper understanding of what drives me – in my case, community engagement and arts accessibility, with a sprinkle of silliness thrown on top.
Why was founding the opportunities for dance outreach through the JUNTOS Collective at the BFA Program important to you?
It was important for me to understand how the tools I was gaining through the BFA program i.e strong technical skills, could serve a greater purpose for the world, specifically for those with less resources than me. JUNTOS was the perfect platform to begin to understand the power of dance: what it means to connect with others through movement and to remind people of the ownership they have of their bodies.
What was your most unexpected experience with the JUNTOS Collective while attending the BFA Program?
I was in Guatemala my Junior Year and we performed in a center for children who are HIV positive, most of whom live short lives due to circumstances out of their control. During the performance, there was one boy hooked up to a respirator, sitting a few rows back while I was dancing in a high energy piece and he couldn’t stop moving out of the excitement the dance seemed to be bringing him. I felt an electric currency that existed between him and I; him sending energy to me through his excitement and me recycling it back to him through my dancing. After the performance, he rushed up to me and gave me a huge hug and began showing me all of his dance moves. Neither of us could stop smiling and we didn’t have to say anything to recognize we would both remember each other and the energy we had given one another for the rest of our lives.
How do you incorporate these experiences when leading students in dance outreach abroad now?
Each student is searching for an understanding of how dance – the thing they love – might be able to better the world by improving the lives of others. As I lead trips, I encourage students to write and reflect on their experiences to better understand the impact they are making on the communities we work with. Through personal reflection, they are able to communicate their ideas more clearly. I also encourage a light-hearted approach to the work: we are here to change lives and are oftentimes doing so in difficult situations, but the change comes from the joy and freedom dance naturally provides and therein lies the power.
To learn more about LINES Ballet BFA | Dominican University of California, visit: linesballet.org/education/bfa-program/
Header photo: © Steve Disenhof