Dance into Life
At Denison I majored in dance and biology, which to me were perfectly aligned, as both fields allowed me to learn as much as I could about the moving human body. Today, I work as a pediatric physical therapist in early intervention, with children ages from birth to three-years-old, in Western Massachusetts. Although this may sound far from a career in dance, many of the foundations of this work were established on the hill.
Through working with Body Mind Centering with Gill Miller, associate professor of dance, I have a solid understanding of the development of movement and the impact of reflexes on movement patterns. Through teaching creative movement, I have skills in using play, music and movement to get kids interested in moving their bodies.
“I realize how much my alma mater gave me the opportunity to really follow my passion, as here, almost 20 years later, I am still excited by the same concepts.”
Contact improvisation training from Sandy Mathern Smith, professor of dance, gives me the capacity to use my whole body as a tool for encouraging and facilitating new and difficulty movement patterns in children with disabilities. And the attention to form and detail in ballet classes has trained my eye to look specifically at how to engage different muscles to achieve the desired functional changes.
Other work from my Denison days has continued to enhance my profession. For example, in my honor’s research project, I looked at whether mental imagery could improve certain proprioceptive skills in dancers. Recently I was delighted to be an outside reader for an undergraduate student at Marlboro College whose topic was whether mental imagery could increase jump height in dancers. It was great to really understand her perspective and to have read a lot of her background research myself.
I realize how much my alma mater gave me the opportunity to really follow my passion, as here, almost 20 years later, I am still excited by the same concepts.
After graduation, I spent three years in Niger, West Africa, in the Peace Corps as a community health agent. After a brief brush with medical school, I decided to pursue a master of fine arts degree in dance at Smith College. I loved Smith and the privilege of getting to go back to school, but after graduation in 2003, I quickly learned that the adjunct teaching circuit was not for me. One year later I matriculated at Springfield College in a physical therapy master’s program and today I love my work as a pediatric physical therapist.
The time I spent at Denison was, without exaggeration, some of the best of my life. I am so grateful for my passion for learning and for following my interests.