Dancing through misconceptions

Megan Confer

KentWired Video

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Dance students are faced with the challenge of finding the right words to explain their passion.

These students frequently defend themselves against negative perceptions and confusion from people who don’t understand their major. Many outsiders question whether it should even be considered a major.

Andrea Shearer, dance division director, said that Kent State’s dance program is not your average cookie-cutter department. While some schools strictly focus on one technique, Kent’s program teaches multiple.

Shearer said this produces a well-rounded dancer and allows for several career paths after graduation.

“We have a much broader base because we are part of a liberal arts school,” Shearer said.

Shearer said that the Kent program really focuses on making its dancers into performers. They are not only learning skills and techniques but how to relay those skills into a performance and provide their audience with a message. Dance students are exposed to acting, music, history and even nutrition classes, all of which contribute to a performance in some way.

“It takes mind, body and spirit,” Shearer said.

Some majors are more intellectually focused. Dancing requires a creative mind to produce the choreography, a powerful body to endure the long physical demand and a motivating spirit to encourage the dancer through the challenges.

Michelle Brown, senior dance performance major, said dance majors are motivated by more than money.

“Dancing makes me see the world differently,” Michelle said. “ You have to have the passion; it’s too hard if you don’t love it because there’s too much of a personal investment.”

Emily Dottavio, a senior dance education major, explained the demands of an average day of class.

Her day entails two to three dance classes, a more traditional class such as history or nutrition, work at the “scene shop” within the performing arts school and concludes with a rehearsal.

“I wake up around 7:30 a.m., and I usually don’t get home until 7:30 p.m.,” Dottavio said.

LaRonica Southerland, senior dance performance major, said because dancers are active for almost the entire day, nutrition directly influences performance.

“What you put in your body determines your mood and how you move,” Southerland said.

In a required introduction to dance class, students keep food logs. Southerland said most students found they were not getting the calories they needed for the amount of energy a dancer requires.

Shearer said that the best way for people to begin to understand the life of a dancer would be to take a dance sampler class.

“It’s a couple weeks of everything,” Shearer said. “It’s a good way to get students excited and get them exposed to dance, even if they don’t have experience.”

Contact Megan Confer at [email protected].