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Student Perspectives

Claire Alrich
Claire Alrich
Year: Junior
Majors: Dance and English (Rhetoric)
Minor: Spanish

Clubs and activities in which you are involved: Art Club, Dance Performances, Costume Design, Tour Guide
Abroad or domestic study experience:
Buenos Aires, Argentina

How do you feel about your relationship with the faculty in this department?

Because the department is small all the professors really take the time to know you. They support me but always push me to try new things and expand my understanding of dance. My relationship with the dance faculty is one of my favorite parts of my Beloit experience.

The professors in the dance department are really there for you. They don’t just care about you development as a dancer, but as a person as well. I definitely feel that I can talk to my advisor about any academic question even if it pertains to something outside of the department. They encourage you to bring ideas from everything you are studying into your dance experience.

What kinds of experiential learning opportunities have you had on and off campus?

I was in a class called Repertory Dance Company where we learned about how to run and be a part of a dance company. We were able to actually go into schools in Beloit to perform and lead workshops.

I have also been able to perform off campus several times in Chicago and in other regional dance festivals. It’s great to meet dance peers at other colleges and to perform alongside professional dancers. Not getting stuck in the “college bubble” is important to me; I love any opportunity to get out and test what I have been learning in a new environment.

What about your peers and the resources available to you all?

My freshman year I broke my hand in dress rehearsal right before Chelonia. I was very upset, but the entire Beloit dance community was so supportive of me. I got so many text messages in the hospital. The dance community is small but very connected and more interested in supporting each other than in criticizing or competing.

The Hendricks Center is amazing! It is wonderful to dance in such large, airy spaces.

Alison Weber

Name: Alison Weber
Year: Senior
Majors: Dance and English

Clubs and activities in which you are involved: Dance Performances



How do you feel about your relationship with the faculty in this department?

They have always communicated with me well, motivated me to do my best, inspired me to be a better dancer and go for my goals. My advisor, especially, has been a great motivator and great advice-giver. She not only advises me concerning my academic goals, but beyond school, concerning my future aspirations. As a transfer student I was worried about creating a meaningful relationship between myself and my professors, but it has been a lot easier with their welcoming and warm nature, remaining open to me and investing in me as a student and person.

What kinds of experiential learning opportunities have you had on campus?

Last semester I had the opportunity to do a special project focusing on Dance/Movement Therapy and its role in treating depression, and it provided a different perspective on dance for me. It showed me just how far of a reach that dance has into people's lives. It's not just about providing entertainment or art for people to view, it can also help people relate to themselves in a way that they never realized they could. It can provide healing that verbal communication can't and I believe that is a very special thing.

How about the available resources to dancers at Beloit?

I am actually very lucky to have come to Beloit when I did because we've been given a brand new facility to dance in that goes above and beyond my expectations. I knew that it would be here starting in the 2010-2011 school year, but I didn't realize just how great it would be. I've never had the opportunity to dance in studio rooms like the ones we have at the Hendricks Center and I think it really enhances our learning experience, especially for our larger classes.

Liana Segan

Name: Liana Segan

Clubs and activities in which you are involved: Yoga Club, PENCILS, Writing Center tutor



How do you feel about your relationship with the faculty in this department?

Chris Johnson brings such excitement and enthusiasm to all of her classes and pieces that never cease to inspire me. I appreciate the dedication and love that she pours into her curriculum and works because it serves as a model for how I should approach my own work. Over the course of my freshman year I had difficulties adapting to the demands of college life but Chris was terribly understanding and patient and saw my potential past what I was able to give. She knew better than I what I was capable of and pushed me to meet the image of me that she held.

What kinds of experiential learning opportunities have you had on and off campus?

There is a student-led show every spring called Senior Shows where students choreograph their own works and cast other students to perform them. This year I was lucky enough to participate in the performance as a dancer and choreographer. It was such a privilege to be able to create a piece my first year here. I think what made it that much more rewarding was how integrated into the dance community I felt during the process and how deeply that affected my experience in a very positive way.

Another opportunity I was able to participate in was the ACDA festival which was located at St Olaf College this year. The festival supplied me with the opportunity to take a variety of classes from acclaimed professors with students I had never danced with before. It was awesome being learning in that environment and even more exciting I was able to meet a hero of mine whom I had admired for years before coming to college. One of the judges at the festival was David Dorfman and when I found out I literally screamed but this reaction was nothing compared to when I took his class and he hugged me after telling me I was a beautiful dancer. I did cry a bit. But what an honor!

Any highlights of your “Beloit Experience” in general?

One evening before a performance we were doing run-throughs where the music for each piece is put on and the dancers mark through the choreography, but since the entire cast of the show is watching it becomes a laughfest. Joey, one of the few boys in the department, choreographed a solo which everyone loved and knew well. During his run through a fellow dance member and close friend of Joey’s, Vivian, went on stage and made the solo and duet with him improvising and laughing the whole time. The night after, the joke continued with another friend named Claire who simultaneously mocked Joey and Vivian by dancing with Joey with spoons, a reference to a solo Vivian had choreographed. We dance as a department and we laugh as a department. It made me feel very much part of a community of good people.

Mia Alcorn

Name: Mia Alcorn
Year: Junior
Majors: Dance and Math

Clubs and activities in which you are involved: Ballroom Club



How do you feel about your relationship with the faculty in this department?

The faculty that I have taken class with have shown themselves to be amazing teachers and are always easy to reach for questions about technique, composition, and guidance. At the end of each semester, everyone in a technique class has always left a better dancer, and, in conceptual classes, I have always left feeling more knowledgeable as a performer and as a creator.

How about your peers and the resources available to you all?

I love how much the dancers will help and encourage each out. In the arts, it is easy for people to focus too much on competition and distance themselves from their peers. In the dancers here, however, I have always found people willing to help if you have forgotten what comes after the développé in the adagio for class and who are patient choreographers that appreciate and listen to the input of their dancers.

The dance facilities for the dance majors are really wonderful. The studios have a great amount of space so that one can really travel in across the floor exercises and not feel too compressed when a class is all on the floor doing an exercise or combination. It is also wonderful to have three studios available for class and rehearsals and to have a lounge area for studying, eating, or relaxing in when you stay in the building for a while for rehearsals and performances.

How have experiential learning opportunities enhanced your studies at Beloit College?

All of the performances on campus are great ways of learning about all aspects of the creative process (costuming, lighting, and staging as well as choreographing/editing the dance and teaching it to the dancers) and of learning more about your peers. ACDA is a wonderful experience in that you are able to take such a variety of classes as well as see what are considered some of the best performances by other schools. Although the fullness of the days can be exhausting, the excitement of all you are doing keeps you having fun.

Mira TreatmanName: Mira Treatman
Year: Senior
Major: Theatre Arts – Acting and Directing (Performance)

Clubs and activities in which you are involved: Dance Performances, Interfaith House, Theatre Department Plays, Modern Nutcracker, Beloit College Hillel, BITE (Beloit Independent Theatre Experience), WBCR Radio DJ

How do you feel about your relationship with the faculty in this department?

My relationship with Gina is one I really appreciate because she is so honest with me. She is not afraid of being frank with her students. She has high expectations for everyone. She seems to create an internal list of goals for each one of us at the beginning of the semester and then spends the following months reinforcing those. Through positive reinforcement I have really grown. Gina’s modern technique classes have greatly helped to improve my physical balance and strength. Gina’s approach to teaching contact improvisation as a post-modern social dance has changed the way I think about my own body. I spent the summer following her spring semester improv class at jams in my hometown of Philadelphia moving with local artists and researchers because she gave me the confidence in myself to pursue involvement in the local movement scene.

I took choreography with Chris in the fall of my freshman year at Beloit. I couldn’t believe that after being in college for just a month I was already showing my choreography to an outside adjudicator at first showings. I think that because of Chris’ trust and respect for me and my peers that Chelonia is the success that it is. I know that it has evolved dramatically over the years, but what Chris has installed for choreographers here is just amazing. I came to Beloit because of the prospect of contributing to Chelonia in some way. Chris as a professor is one of the warmest, most sincere, thoughtful, and risk taking academics I have ever studied with. She is the epitome of a Beloit-style mentor.

How about your peers and the resources available to you all?
I came to Beloit because I knew that there was a sizable community of students who would want to blur the line between their social lives and their academic lives. I have been so delighted with the way that my peers in the theatre and dance department jump into projects with me. I have never encountered a student who hasn’t felt the same enthusiasm for rehearsal as myself. All of my friends in the department work their lives around making time for December Workshops rehearsals. The amount of love and effort that goes into the shows every year continues to make me glow. I really wouldn’t want college any other way.

The Hendricks Center is the most beautiful building on campus because of what goes on inside of the walls. My own work has personally benefited from the space because when I see how much the college cares about the arts, it makes me take myself more seriously. The studios have been quite inspiring to me.

Liz K FreemanName: Liz K Freeman
Year: Senior
Major: Dance

Symposium Topic: Exploring Odissi and Bollywood Dance
Clubs and activities in which you are involved: Help Yourself Program, Art Club, Dance Performances
Abroad or domestic study experience: Spent one year living with a host family in Mossoro, Brasil and working in a school for people with special needs after graduating high school. Received a Venture Grant from Beloit College to spend a summer in Mumbai, India learning classical Indian and Bollywood dance

How do you feel about your relationship with the faculty in this department?

My professors are very knowledgeable and accessible- now that we are in the new Hendricks building all of our professors have offices down the hall from the dance studios and keep their doors open for students to drop in and ask questions all day. There is a great balance here in the student-faculty ratio and our professors have both the resources and dedication to teaching to make sure that we students are as prepared as possible for graduating Beloit and entering the professional world. Though I technically only have one major advisor, I feel that I am being mentored by the department as a whole.

What kinds of experiential learning opportunities have you had on and off campus?

Beloit College awarded my roommate, Molly Steigerwald, and I a Venture Grant after our first year here to travel to Mumbai, India. We lived with multiple host families over the summer and studied Odissi and Bollywood dance. We were then able to perform these two different forms of dance various times upon return to the US and presented our research experience at Beloit as an international student symposium. I later taught a modern and Bollywood-based dance class for the Beloit Help Yourself Program middle and high school students the following summer.

I was more recently awarded a Stutz Student Grant to help me complete an internship at Movement Research in New York City in the summer of 2011. I worked in their office and was able to take intensive workshops with teachers such as Irene Dowd, Barbara Mahler and Reggie Wilson through them. My internship with Movement Research gave me invaluable information and experience with arts administration, exposing me to all the efforts that go into making classes, workshops and performances happen.

How about your peers?

Dancers here spend a lot of time together between classes and multiple seasons of dance shows, so the high number of dance majors that have other major areas of concentration as well adds to the eclecticism of our community. While hanging out in the Hendricks before rehearsals you hear stories about a Religious Studies thesis, or a trip with their Botany class instead of everyone being caught up in the same small department. I love seeing the other things dancers are putting their time into at Beloit beyond the studio. Overall, I feel that my classmates constantly challenge and support me.

Matthew Alan Porter

Name: Matthew Alan Porter
Year: Senior
Majors: Theater Arts- Acting and Dance

Clubs and activities in which you are involved: Phi Kappa Psi
Abroad or domestic study experience: Moscow Art Theatre, Russia

What kinds of experiential learning opportunities have you had on and off campus?

With Beloit colleges help I have been able to participate in ADF’s January intensive in NYC, give dance workshops to local area schools and assist dance workshops in Tanzania. I have been able to go to the Moscow Art Theatre in Moscow Russia, to lean new ways of movement and develop myself as an actor. I have been able to learn many styles of dance form many instructors both at Beloit College and at other colleges in the Midwest through the American college dance festival. So far I have had three professors for modern dance here at Beloit and I have learned different techniques, theories, and learned new things about myself from each one. They all have different areas they like to focus on.

Beloit has allowed me to go on many journeys through theatre, not just traveling to Tanzania or Russia, but also being a part of something with meaning. When your performance can tell a story or an insight a person’s passion for art, or change someone’s life, it is the best journey you can take. The experience I have gain and the people I have worked with have given me what I need to be able to take these journeys.

How do you feel about your preparation for your major?

I feel very prepared going into the world of theatre and performing from my times at Beloit. My advisors have challenged me to push myself to always improve, and take everything as a learning experience and grow with every journey. There has never been a time where I have taken something for face value and not dug to learn more from an experience.

Kei Ishii 
Kei Ishii
Year: Senior
Major: Anthropology
Minor: Museum Studies

Clubs and activities in which you are involved: Art Club, Dance Performances, Caretaker for Greenhouse
Abroad or domestic study experience:
Completed a summer language course in Germany

How do you feel about your relationship with the faculty in this department?

I love them, I think they are fantastic. I'm not a major so I don't really know them as advisors, but I respect them as teachers and trust that they know what they’re doing. Plus, I just think they are cool people and they get me to dance.

Last year I was in a piece inspired by Tina Turner, choreographed by one of the dance professors, Gina T’ai. Everyone else cast in the piece was an experienced dancer, and it was my first time working with a professor so it seemed daunting but everyone was very welcoming. We got to perform it at a venue in Chicago for a lot of artists and choreographers in the area, and I felt very close with the cast by the end of the piece.

How have experiential learning opportunities enhanced your studies at Beloit College?

Dancing makes me feel like I am doing a productive extra-curricular activity and an academic one as well. The commitment to attending rehearsals has forced me to start scheduling my work and free time better outside of class. They are something that I put a lot of time and energy into now, which I wouldn't do for many other things.

Since I started dancing here at Beloit, I realized for the first time how much I enjoy it. I say the word dance differently now, it means different things to me. It makes me healthy and keeps me sane. Everybody and anyone should at least try dance, because if I can do it ANYONE can do it. I never imagined myself dancing; I don’t own any booty shorts. I need more booty shorts in my life.