Dance program alumni have pursued an enormous range of careers in fields such as performance, arts management, physical therapy, and education. Here are a few of their stories.
Michelle Marion ‘13
Michelle Marion grew up in New Jersey, where she was a committed dancer, taking Royal Academy of Dance classes. But in high school she was sidelined by an injury; by the time she arrived at UVM, dance had taken a back seat.
“I had been dancing my whole life and I just felt burned out,” she recalls. “I needed to take a break.”
Then a friend encouraged her to join Orchesis, a student-run dance company at UVM that choreographs and executes performances at the end of each semester. She plugged herself into the group and took a leadership role, choreographing several pieces and serving as president of the organization for two years. She also declared dance as her minor.
“I rediscovered dance at UVM and found new ways to express myself,” she said. “I saw dance as a way of communicating political and environmental messages.”
Marion integrated dance into her senior capstone thesis in environmental studies, her major at UVM. She collaborated with senior thesis advisor Amy Seidl, who wrote a 15-minute narrative that Marion choreographed with nine student dancers. She performed the piece at UVM and several local elementary schools.
After graduation, Marion moved west to Tucson, Arizona, working at nonprofits, social media and dancing. She recently branched out to establish her own company called the Dust Dance Collective, a contemporary dance group focusing on producing video dance media.
“We’re doing auditions now for our second season. We create concept videos with modern choreography and we collaborate with other artists in Tucson—photographers, makeup artists musicians, videographers, clothing designers.”
It’s the sense of community in dance as UVM that she’s striving for. Last winter she returned to Burlington to perform in Dancing Uphill, an annual dance event that celebrated the 10th anniversary of UVM’s dance program.
“Paul Besaw and Claire Byrne (of the UVM Dance department) hold a very special place in heart. I had never done improvisational movement until I came to UVM. Dust Dance focuses heavily on that and that’s what pushes me forward.”
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