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Student Perspectives

Samantha Abrams'17


"My favorite aspect of the Beloit College Dance Department is that EVERYONE is welcome. All you have to do is reach out, audition for shows, put in your best effort—and you’re welcomed into the dance family. Yes, many dance students at Beloit have had a ton of training and experience. However, if you love dance but aren’t very trained or experienced, or aren’t sure if you want to declare dance as a major, Beloit is THE place for you.

Participating in dance classes and performance at Beloit played a huge role in connecting me to the college community as a student. Despite the fact that I wasn’t as skilled as some other dancers, I was always treated with respect and expected to bring my A game to rehearsals, and that motivated me to hold myself up to high standards with realistic goals. The opportunities that I found in the dance department allowed me to have a wonderful outlet for expression and creative learning that I am sure I wouldn’t have had at a school with a more exclusive dance department. Beloit College dance is truly inclusive!"


Office of International Education Intern for 2017-2018, involved in theatre, dance.

Elena Cusack

Theatre, Dance, and Media Studies: Dance; Critical Identity Studies

"When I first came to Beloit four years ago, I had no intention of majoring in dance. I considered dancing some on the side, but that was all. Flash forward to the present, I have spent the four years dancing not only at Beloit, but around the world thanks to programs and grants offered by Beloit College.

I spent the spring of my junior year intensively studying dance in Malta, and the following summer in Italy, and have also explored dance domestically, through an internship at an MFA program in addition to a summer program in Seattle, WA. Not only that, but I have gotten a variety of dancing and choreographing opportunities at Beloit. I have participated in shows at Beloit in one capacity or another every year, and have been a dancer, choreographer, and crew member, exploring the various aspects of what goes into putting on a performance.

Through this, I have worked with many dance majors, minors, and people who are simply interested in and participate in the department. I have also had the opportunity to form invaluable relationships with the dance faculty at Beloit, an opportunity I wouldn’t have gotten at a bigger school. The dance faculty never hesitates to do everything they can to help us succeed in our personal and professional goals.

Currently, I am in the process of researching and making a plan for pursuing dance post-grad, and the majority of the connections I have made and am still making are through the dance faculty at Beloit. Beloit College offers a dance program that does both, allowing people to dance because they enjoy it and want to be involved, while also providing the resources to aid us in pursuing dance professionally."


Dance Department Assistant, Round Table Web Editor, December Dance Workshop Performance, Chelonia  Dance Concert, Senior Shows, Neuroscience Club, American College Dance Festival Association Trip Planner.

Julia Dirkes-Jacks

Theatre, Dance, and Media Studies: Theatre; Creative Writing

"I had almost no dance experience when I came to Beloit, but my friends in high school always joked about how much I loved to dance and was always dancing around, so when I needed an extra class to fill my schedule freshman year I took Modern 1. I loved it so much that I auditioned for December Dance Workshop Performance, I was so intimidated because at auditions I felt like everyone was more experienced than me, but it was a really welcoming and supportive environment so I stuck it out. To my surprise, I got cast and wound up in Chelonia as well. It was so much fun and made me feel so much more confident during my freshman year, a time when I felt very unsure of myself. I love the dance department so much and I hope to be involved in every show in some way until I graduate."


Theatre, Stage Management, Funding Board Director, BITE President, Theta Pi Gamma, Costume Shop, Scene Shop, Round Table Staff Writer, Adult Themes Theatre Group, December Dance Workshop Performance, Chelonia Dance Concert.

Derrick Dudley

3/2 Pre-Engineering

"As an engineer student I had to take an arts class to complete my required credits. At first I was a bit annoyed because I had to do it not because I wanted to but I soon figured out how much I really missed dancing in my daily routine. The Dance Department, faculty and students, are a vibrant bunch which makes you feel as if you've known them forever. It got to the point where I was actively looking for dance opportunities outside the course. There is never a dull moment as guest artists come to visit the dance classes frequently and there is always someone student, guest artist, or faculty searching for performers for their piece. I honestly believe that the Dance Department here at Beloit College has made my semester more blissful with it than it would have been without it."


Football (previously), December Dance Workshop Performance, Chelonia Dance Concert, American Dance College Association Festival, Pearsons Employee.

Kaela Evans

Chemical Engineering, minor in Theatre, Dance, and Media Studies: Dance

"Dancing has been a significant part of the best experiences I've had at Beloit thus far. From performing in shows such as December Dance Workshop and Chelonia, to performing Bluebird for elementary school students, to meeting successful artists like Katy Pyle and Kelsea Robinson who broadened my horizon with dance. I loved dancing in the hip hop piece choregraphed by Kelsea and other BraveSoul members because I never thought my body could move the way house hip hop dancers move. I definitely became more confident with stepping out of my comfort zone after performing that dance multiple times! I look forward to meeting more guest artists and learning different styles of dance"


Theta Pi Gamma, December Dance Workshop Performance, Chelonia Dance Concert, Women’s Lacrosse, LEEDS Employee.

Gabrielle Rose Garcia

Theatre, Dance, and Media Studies: Dance; Geology

"I have personal relationships with almost all of the faculty members. My relationship with my dance major is close and personal in terms of my personal support I was in a special project for dance/performance called ‘Seasons of Lamentation’ They’ve given me experience to validate my studies and my pursuit of careers.

I find myself growing every day and making myself better every day through on and off campus studies and opportunities. It gets hard but I have a support system full of people who want to see me do well, my advisors ask me what I need and I tell them and they do their best to help me reach what I need.

All of my interactions are important and influential. Beloit is a community. We all work together. I’m happy to have big beautiful open studios to work. The Beloit Experience is educational and unique. It’s a hub of intellectuals who are above average but understand that being average is okay, and the experience is unique to the individual and different from anywhere else in the world."


December Dance Workshop Performance, Chelonia, Residential Assistant (RA), Research Trip to China, World Dance Alliance Conference in Newfoundland.

Adanya Gilmore

"December Dance Workshops expanded my views on the collaborative process with each piece I was a part of. It was a lovely way of being heard even if it wasn't time for your art to be shown alone. Specifically in the piece I was in called Alone Together, some of the movements included my own choreography, which gave it a whole other level of it being personal to me. I'm grateful for the experience and excited for more like this one."


Black Student Union, Beloit Public Health Initiative, December Dance Workshop Performance, Chelonia Dance Concert, American College Dance Festival Planner, Scene Shop Employee, Lighting Designer for Chelonia Dance Concert.

Gabe Gonzalez

"I have been able to work with all the dance faculty very closely. I’m very appreciative to have this opportunity as a sophomore. My first semester I was also able to work with a video professor while dancing which was a wonderful, eye opening experience. Chris Johnson has been such a helpful guide for me as I navigate my time here at Beloit.  She is always willing to talk and does an incredible job of making resources available.

Through the repertory dance company class, I was able to select pieces to perform, work with professional choreographers and professors of dance at other colleges, and curate a show with a performance venue in Northern Wisconsin and Milwaukee. Through the Repertory Dance Co. I was able to build on my knowledge of dance and performance from a totally different perspective. I worked on creating a show and then performing in the show which was very helpful for me to understand the complexity of creating a professional performance.

I came to Beloit with some dance experience but not thinking I was going to be involved. Through auditions, guest artists, and mentorship from my professors I was quickly dragged into the Dance world and I am loving being a part of this special program. I have made some of my closest friends through the Dance department. With December Dance Workshop Performance and Senior Shows being focused on student choreography there is a lot of involvement from dancers outside of the Dance department. People bring their unique experiences to the Dance Department, which makes the movement very interesting.

The Beloit College Hendricks Center for the Arts is a great facility with two large dance classrooms. The space is really focused on the dancer’s experience. The Neese Theatre is a very interesting performance space, with a circular non-traditional style that creates a fun challenge for the dancers and choreographers."


Residential Assistant (RA), December Dance Workshop Performance, Chelonia, Duffy Program, Todd Reading Club, Repertory Dance Company, Asian American Peer Support Group, American College Dance Association Festival.

Mýa Hernandez

Theatre, Dance, and Media Studies: Dance

"My experience in the Dance department so far has been unique. Coming from a dance studio that pushed for artisity but also competed, I was kind of used to some of the things the faculty taught. But I also learned a lot of new things, as while as growing more with what I already knew.

First semester, I got to focus on my ballet skills, auditioned for December Dance and Chelonia, and had rehearsals every single day. It was unique because I got the opportunity to be a part of several different pieces that challenged me in the movement, the quality, and the storyline/theme of the works.

That is the reason I love dance. It challenges you, regardless of what you are working on. There is no right or wrong way to do the movement. It is how your body feels doing it. That was one thing that I thought was unique. The professors are very adamant about taking care of your body, which was kind of hard for me because at my studio it was full out every time. At Beloit, dancing safely is always prioritized"


December Dance Workshop Performance, Chelonia Dance Concert, Library Employee.

Britney Johnson

Theatre, Dance, and Media Studies: Dance

"The dance department is one of a kind because it meets each dancer at the level of expertise at which they see themselves. When I was a wee freshmen, I thought Modern 3 with Chris Johnson would be a breeze because I had been practicing modern repertoire for four years in my previous company.

Little did I know, repertoire without technique is like learning all the words in a new language and not learning how to form a sentence. Chris, however, throughout the class, pushed me to take risk and lean into the discomfort of not knowing what the hell I was doing. So I took her class again this year, and it is borderline unbelievable the difference one semester can make when used wisely.

All of this to say, before this dance department, I didn't even know if I really had a shot at being a professional dancer. Now, I am certain that it is possible with a hell of a lot of work."


December Dance Workshop Performance, Chelonia Dance Concert, Theta Pi Gamma, Tour Guide Coordinator, Track & Field.

Austen Long

Art History; Theatre, Dance, and Media Studies: Dance

"I feel comfortable sharing, and rely on my faculty advisors for advice about many aspects of my life. This has allowed me to view my education as an entrepreneurial opportunity as far as making connections with students & teachers (networking). Also my classes are places to ask deeper questions on topics I’m interested in. Chris set me on the right path for my majors from the beginning. Meeting English/writing majors and utilizing their skills to help me verbalize my thoughts on movement in a coherent manner. Everyone in the department is outstanding."


Tau Kappa Epsilon, December Dance Workshop Performance, Chelonia Dance Concert, American College Dance Association Festival.

Sydney Parks


"It’s easy to talk to the faculty of the dance department. I enjoy all the classes and other activities with everyone. Going to the American College Dance Association Festival with the dance program over spring break was an amazing experience. We got to go and take professional classes and interact with other dancers from other schools. We got the chance to perform and view other performances."


December Dance Workshop Performance, Chamber Singers, Alpha Sigma Tau, Tour Guide, Lunch Host.

Emily St. Onge

Environmental Studies, minoring in Anthropology

"Outside of classes, I am also actively involved with the dance department here. I have taken five dance classes, and I have performed in the department’s three annual dance concerts. Overall, I have felt very included by the professors and the other students, especially considering the fact that I’m a relatively new dancer I didn’t take my first dance lesson until coming to Beloit. The curriculum has always felt accessible, yet difficult enough to continually challenge me as I grow and improve in dance. Without the department’s openness to all levels of dance experience— including complete beginners— I would have never taken that first step into pursuing something that was just a slight interest, but that now has become a passion that I will continue pursuing long l after I graduate."


Box Office, December Dance Workshop Performance, Chelonia Dance Concert, Admissions Employee.