“It was a few things. I was really drawn to the fact that it had a Dance BFA and not just a BA. Plus, I liked that it was in New York City and it was easy to get to everything. I also loved that the class sizes were small and the program had a family feel to it. When I went to my LIU audition, my parents and I felt it had the best energy of all the dance programs, and I just got a really good feeling about being there. So the reasons were mix of emotional and logical.”
What was your freshman year like?
“I was used to having 7AM to 10PM days every day throughout high school, so when the workload was that intense at LIU, it didn’t feel like too big of a change. It definitely was hard adjusting to a new environment, like it is for every freshman entering college.”
What were your favorite classes at LIU?
“That’s a hard choice. I definitely liked all of the modern classes. I loved the variety of modern classes and I also really liked the technique/repertory classes that we had. It was cool to be able to work with a choreographer so intimately on both their technique and then choreography right after. Now that I am a professional, it’s great to see how much that class paralleled and prepared me for professional life, because that’s what you do when you dance with a company. You take a class within the style that your company is in, and then you have rehearsal. That was really such a privilege to have, and I realized afterwards that a lot of universities don’t offer that.
"The choreographer that I had the strongest connection to was Bradley Shelver, with whom I worked in my sophomore year. He was also the first person to offer me a job when I graduated.”
What was your most memorable performance experience at LIU?
“It’s a difficult choice. Because we were a small department, we got to perform in all the pieces, which was wonderful. It was almost a given that you were going to work with one, two, maybe even three choreographers every semester, which was unheard of in other dance programs. A lot of my friends who went to big universities where there are 60 people per class and they didn’t always get cast in pieces, and many didn’t even get to perform until their sophomore or junior year.
In terms of memorable performances, I think about my senior year when I performed a duet with one of my best friends from LIU in a piece called “If” by faculty member Alenka Cizmesija. She had been teaching us since our freshman year so she really knew both of us and our dynamic as friends, and was really pushing both of us. She was really in tune to who we were, and gave us exactly the kind of challenge we needed.”
How did the program prepare you for the dance world?
“I learned that repertory-style companies are really ideal for me, and that I love to switch between different styles within the contemporary modern world. I don’t think I quite realized how much diversity matters to me until I went to LIU.
"The program also helped me gain awareness of my body as an instrument and how to take care of it. I felt I understood on a scientific level how to properly warm up my body, how to take care of it, how to know when to push, and when not to push.
What was life like for you after graduation?
“It’s definitely a little scary at first. I was really lucky in that Bradley Shelver emailed me the day after I graduated and asked me to do a project which his company, so it was amazing to have that kind of opportunity immediately.
“Of course, all dancers take for granted having to be in class every day when you’re a student. You think to yourself ‘Oh no, I have to go to modern class again!’ but then once you’ve graduated you realize you have to stay in shape. I think one of the hardest things for me was instilling that discipline a little more, too. “
Do you have any advice for incoming students?
“Make the most of every choreographer you work with, and – everybody says this when you’re in school – appreciate it while you're there!
“Being in school is so wonderful because you have so much time to take care of your body. When you graduate, and may have to have a survival job, your time is going to be limited to do those kinds of things, so I think it’s important to take good care of your body and strengthen it as much as possible, so that you’re ready for the real world.”
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