Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth | September 10th, 2006 | Posted in News, People


by Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth

Chicago Dancers Share Their Views on College

I’ll be in my first year at the Boston Conservatory…Charlie Anstett
I did continue… Howard University, Wayne State University, The Ailey School, and Dance Theatre of Harlem after high school…April C. Lewis
I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan… and it is one of only two schools in the nation that offer the course of study that I wanted to pursue–Naval Architecture…Amy Chen
The only thing I liked about school was buying school supplies, and of course, all the boys. So why am I going back to school?…Betty Gabriel
My advice would be “GO TO COLLEGE”…Joshua B. Wark

Amy Chen

Name: Amy Chen
Age: 27
Gender: Female
Astrological Sign: Libra
Define your dance interest (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.): Ballet
I am a…: student, performer, teacher
Define your technical level (beginner, advanced, professional, teacher, etc.): semi-professional, teacher
Favorite Chicago choreographers and companies: Eddy Ocampo, Joel Hall, River North–it’s not something I can explain, it’s just the energy that I like.

College experience: I went to college to study engineering right after high school. I had already been out of dancing for two years by then. I went to the University of Michigan because I had grown up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and it is one of only two schools in the nation that offer the course of study that I wanted to pursue–Naval Architecture.

Rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: (0=no impact, 10=very strong impact) I can’t. I think teaching gives me more ability to impact the Chicago dance scene, but I’d like to have more influence as a performer.

What were your biggest challenges in college? The hardest thing for me was that I really didn’t want to be studying engineering in college! Because my parents pulled me out of ballet when I was 15, dance was a huge “what-if” for me–I wanted to be pursuing a career in dance.

Would you do it differently if you could do it again? I think I’ve finally arrived at a place in life where I can honestly say “no.” I could look back and keep wishing that I hadn’t lost those years for dancing. But if I had spent all that time focusing on being a dancer, I’d have missed out on a lot of my other accomplishments in life. There’s a reason for everything.

If you ever had a back-to-school dream, describe a good one here: I have dreams that I’m back in school all the time–usually nightmares about having exams that I never attended. I often have dreams that I’m in the wings for a performance that I never had a rehearsal for too! But that’s not what you meant, is it? I have no desire to ever be in school again.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance
: Consider ALL your options. I grew up in a relatively small community, and the ballet studios there had some odd notions about what it took to be a “successful” dancer. My ballet teachers made me believe that if I wasn’t studying at a conservatory by 15 and apprenticing by 17, then there was no point in my dancing. The idea of going to college to study dance, or to join a company or choreographic effort that was not a top-notch ballet company was looked down upon. It wasn’t until I came to Chicago that I saw how much opportunity there is for dancers–training programs with companies, college programs, independent choreographic efforts. It was like discovering a whole new world of dance that I could be a part of, and that was such a wonderful feeling. If you’re thinking about college, consider double-majoring. I know–no aspiring dancer likes to hear that they should consider an alternate line of work. But things happen–injuries, lack of funding, etc. Consider it peace of mind to know that you have another skill to fall back on, or that you could use to enrich your performance career.

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Betty Gabriel

Name: Betty Gabriel
Age: 25
Gender: Female
Astrological Sign: Capricorn
Define your dance interest (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.): Anything with a little funk in it.
I am a…: Student/Performer
Define your technical level: PROfessional
Your favorite Chicago Choreographer: Boogie [McClarin]. It’s all in the name. She knows how to have fun with it which is surprisingly rare.
College experience: I immediately went to college after high school. A week after I graduated, I started summer classes just so I could move out of the house, FINALLY. I went to Iowa State University because it’s in Iowa, far, far, away from my parents. They also gave me a full scholarship, and for some reason I thought living in farmland would be fun. It’s not.

Rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: (0=no impact, 10=very strong impact) 1. It would have been 0, but my friend just told me he saw me dancing on TV (public access) the other day. I had no idea I was on TV.


What were your biggest challenges in college?
My biggest challenge was staying awake during lectures. If I had to do it differently, I would have bought a recording device, or majored in something that I really cared about.


If you ever had a back-to-school dream, describe a good one here
: I’ve had nightmares where I’m still in school.


Do you plan on returning to school now or in the future to complete your degree, to pursue another degree or just to take a class at the college level? If so, describe your program of choice and the impetus for returning to school
. I had no intention of going back to school. The only thing I liked about school was buying school supplies, and of course, all the boys. So why am I going back to school? Well, I found out that there are schools were you can just study acting. It’s something I’ve always had a secret obsession with, but ever since I was a little girl I thought my only options were math, science, and English. It wasn’t until I signed up for a modern class in college, thinking it was going to be a hip-hop class, that I realized my ability to perform and the possibility of doing something besides veterinary medicine.  Dancing will always be a part of my life and so will science, but acting is something I can see myself spending the rest of my life exploring. I’m 25 years old going on 35 (yikes!!!). I think it’s about time I start doing what I really want with my life.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance
:My best advice to any high school senior is to take the time and the risk to do something you’ve always wanted to do right now. Whether it be skydiving, karaokeing, backpacking through Europe (a road trip to New Mexico might be a little more affordable). Just don’t think everything is set in stone. Because it’s not. Be free to change your mind, to be you, to be what you never thought possible. Yeah, I know, I stole that from Common. I love that album.
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April C. Lewis

Name: April C. Lewis
Age: 24
Gender: Female
Astrological Sign: Libra
Define your dance interest (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.): ballet, modern, jazz, lyrical, hip hop
I am a….: student, performer, choreographer, teacher, producer
Define your technical level (beginner, advanced, professional, teacher, etc.):professional/teacher
Your favorite Chicago choreographer, school or dance company and why: Deeply Rooted Productions; Kevin Iega Jeff, director. I like their music choices, choreography, themes, and movement style

College experience: I did continue on to college at Howard University, Wayne State University, The Ailey School, and Dance Theatre of Harlem after high school. Howard was the #1 HBCU and the only one with a dance program. I wasn’t satisfied with their program after all and moved on to WSU. I continued with independent studies in NYC


On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: (0=no impact, 10=very strong impact)
I just joined six other dancers/teachers to form a dance production company called Mayfair Inc. Our goal is to help introduce up and coming artist, choreographers, and companies to Chicago’s dance scene. I can better answer this question following our first showcase.


If you did attend college, what were your biggest challenges at the time?
Paying tuition
Would you do it differently if you could do it again?no
Do you plan on returning to school now or in the future to complete your degree, to pursue another degree or just to take a class at the college level? If so, describe your program of choice and the impetus for returning to school. I’ve always planned to go back to school for my masters. I’m working on that now–Masters in Applied Exercise Physiology. It’s one of few areas outside of dance that peaks my interest.

Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance: go hard, or don’t go at all.

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Charlie Anstett

Name: Charlie Anstett
Age:18
Gender: Male
Astrological Sign: Scorpio
Define your dance interest (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.): I strive to be well rounded treating each technique with equal attention.
I am a…: student/performer and hopefully one day, choreographer!!
Define your technical level (beginner, advanced, professional, teacher, etc.): advanced

Your favorite Chicago choreographer, school or dance company and why: My favorite Chicago choreographer is Ron De Jesus. He reminds me of Ulysses Dove with his unique phrasing and idea development along with execution and rhythmic movement.

College experience: I’ll be in my first year at the Boston Conservatory because of its reputation. They also have a diverse faculty. I also wanted to be in classes with serious dancers in a conservatory style environment to test myself in a close to real dance world setting.

On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: (0=no impact, 10=very strong impact) 9


If you will attend college for the first time, what is one challenge you expect to face and how will you face it?
It will be a challenge to force myself to choreograph pieces in college…To not be embarrassed to put myself out there and show my vision and style. I think I’ll face it by just making friends in the dance department that I feel completely comfortable around and just start choreographing on them and with them. That way it’s not as big of a deal. I can take the work and use it on anyone later.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance
: Make sure that your serious and are willing to give up a lot of your life to working. Also I think a person interested in dance should have lifelong goals to inspire them to keep going. Keep going for it whatever “it” may be. That’s the tricky part.

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Heather Liparota

Name: Heather Liparota
Age:19
Gender:Female
Astrological Sign:Sagitarius
Define your dance interest: I love all dance forms but modern is my favorite
I am a…. student, performer, choreographer, teacher
Define your technical level: advanced, teacher
Your favorite Chicago choreographer, school or dance company and why: Jeff Hancock and Jim Morrow. Jeff’s choreography is classic, yet fun and upbeat. A lot of his dances are very pleasing to the eye. Jim brings street and hip hop into the dance world as a piece of art.


Rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: 0=no impact, 10=very strong impact
…7

College experience: I am currently attending college and one of my biggest challenges is balancing my dance life with my “studious” life. I am currently studying dance and pre-med at the same time. They are very different and call for different obligations.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance:
Continue your education in dance as much as you can, but realize that the world is full of competition. Professional dancers do not dance for the money. They dance for the love of dance. Be open to every option you have and choose the path that will best fulfill your life.
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Kim Sturm

Name: Kim Sturm
Age:30 something
Gender:Female
Astrological Sign:Capricorn
Define your dance interest: ballet, jazz, character
I am a: student, performer
Define your technical level: professional


Your favorite Chicago choreographer, school or dance company and why:
Ruth Page Foundation; Larry Long is the most incredible ballet teacher in the world

College experience: I attended college immediately after high school. I went to Butler University and University of Utah for the dance programs.


If you did attend college, what were your biggest challenges at the time? Would you do it differently if you could do it again?
Not be so critical of myself.


If you ever had a back-to-school dream, describe a good one here:
I would perfect my French in order to be able to translate and travel.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance:
If you get a professional job right away, go with it. But always consider something that you can fall back on if anything happens that could keep you from dancing.
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Anthony Fett

Name:Anthony Fett
Age: 21
Gender: Male
Astrological Sign: Scorpio
Define your dance interest: ballet, modern, jazz, tap, show (theater) dance
I am a: student, performer
Define your technical level (beginner, advanced, professional, teacher, etc.): depends on the style: Intermediate ballet and tap, professional jazz/theater

Your favorite Chicago choreographer, school or dance company and why: Joel Hall– great physical warm up, unique style, high intensity

College experience: I’m currently at the Hartt School of Theater. This program offered the perfect mix of music dance and theater, and I clicked with the faculty.


Rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: 0=no impact, 10=very strong impact
:I guess 5


If you did attend college, what were your biggest challenges at the time? Would you do it differently if you could do it again?
Challenge to stay put…always wanting to do professional work while training…but it is good discipline…I do not regret taking time to focus solely on my training.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance
: keep taking class…Dance wherever and whenever you can…and go where your heart leads you!

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Kerri Vale

Name: Kerri Vaile
Age: 24
Gender: Female
Astrological Sign: Aquarius
Define your dance interest (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.): modern
I am a…performer…maybe choreographer and teacher someday
Define your technical level (beginner, advanced, professional, teacher, etc.): professional


Your favorite Chicago choreographer, school or dance company:
River North and Hubbard Street

College experience: I attended college immediately after high school and and graduated with a degree in dance with a business minor from UM-Milwaukee. It has a good dance program.


Rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: 0=no impact, 10=very strong impact .
..8


If you did attend college, what were your biggest challenges at the time? Would you do it differently if you could do it again?
My biggest challenge was dancing 24/7 and taking business classes. I went to college for 5 years straight, fall, spring, and summer. But, I loved all of it.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance:
Don’t give up your dreams and your aspirations. Nothing is out of reach. My family never fully backed me in my decision to pursue dance as a career, but I did it anyway. I felt I could make a living of it. I know I will struggle, but it is something I love to do and always will. I can’t see myself doing anything else.
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Kristin Jeffers

Name: Kristin Jeffers
Age: 27
Gender: Female
Astrological Sign: Aries
Define your dance interest (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.): All styles
I am a... Performer, choreographer, teacher
Define your technical level (beginner, advanced, professional, teacher, etc.): professional
Your favorite Chicago choreographer, school or dance company and why: Joel Hall Dance Center; I feel that it is a great place to learn and grow as a dancer.

College experience: I went to Oakton Community College for about one year and then took off with my teaching and dancing. I chose Oakton because I was unsure of which school to go to so I stayed home and went to community college. A few years ago I did go back to Columbia College and received my make-up artistry certification.


On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: (0=no impact, 10=very strong impact).
..10

If you did attend college, what were your biggest challenges at the time? Self-discipline


Would you do it differently if you could do it again?
I don’t think so. [Of course], certain things you look back on and think maybe you should have done that differently. But it was a learning experience and learning allows you to grow.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance:
It is hard work and at times very challenging physically and emotionally. You need to be prepared for anything. Have all your bases covered and always have that back up plan. Good luck with all the decisions you will make now and in the future!
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Joshua B. Wark

Name:Joshua B. Wark
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Astrological Sign: Leo
Define your dance interest (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.): Contemporary and Jazz
Choose all that apply: Student, Performer, Choreographer, and Teacher
Define your technical level (beginner, advanced, professional, teacher,etc.): Advanced/ Professional

Your favorite Chicago choreographer, school or dance company and why: Randy Duncan because I find his choreography to be moving and inspirational. My favorite company in Chicago is Hubbard Street because the dancers are beautiful movers.

College experience: I am a 3rd year student at The Juilliard School. I chose Juilliard because it is a very prestigious school and my experience there will help push me in the right direction.


On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: (0=no impact, 10=very strong impact)
I hope 10, but I would be happy with 8.


If you will attend college for the first time, what is one challenge you expect to face and how will you face it?
I have faced it and that’s kicking the old habits out and bringing on the new.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance
: My advice would be “GO TO COLLEGE” and make sure you know where your going. Learn everything you can about the school. Make sure you visit the college and don’t forget to ask questions. I hope this helps!

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Jamila Leonard

Name: Jamila Leonard
Age: “mfph”
Gender: female
Astrological Sign: Cancer
Define your dance interest: I have an interest in ballet but my favorite is jazz and hip hop
I am a… professional

Your favorite Chicago choreographer, school or dance company and why: My favorite school is Joel Hall Dance Center. I like the friendly laid back atmosphere. I like the approach they take with their students and I’m very comfortable there. My favorite choreographer? Kirby Reed.

College experience: I went to Purdue University for business but switched majors and got a degree in communications and advertising.


On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: (0=no impact, 10=very strong impact)
10


If you did attend college, what were your biggest challenges at the time? Would you do it differently if you could do it again?
My biggest challenge while going to college was learning to accept the freedom that came along with being on your own and learning how to adjust to that freedom. Maybe I’d do things differently if I could. Really, I wasn’t introduced to dance until after college. I didn’t know that there were schools that you could go and major in dance. So maybe if I could, I’d go to a more artistic school.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance:
Basically, check out all their options. Get into class in the city to network and meet people. Research schools and check out your options. I think that the advantage that I have in terms of having a degree is that I have something to fall back on. Working as a dancer can be inconsistent unless you get into a really good company. Because of my degree, I can work full time, do what I want to do and at the same time, I can still dance. My schooling and work experience helped start Chicago Dance Magazine and I think that’s a really positive thing.

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Susanna Hostetter

Name: Susanna Hostetter
Age: 18.
Gender: Female
Astrological Sign: Virgo
Define your dance interest (ballet, modern, jazz, etc.): I’ve taken ballet, modern, jazz, and belly dance. I find jazz and belly dance the most invigorating.
I am a… student, performer
Define your technical level (beginner, advanced, professional, teacher, etc.): intermediate


Your favorite Chicago choreographer, school or dance company and why
. Paul Christiano. I saw one show of his choreography and it blew me away. He was also in every piece. His works had an intense athleticism and complexity that I’ve never seen on stage before.

College experience: I am continuing on to college immediately after high school. I’m going to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota in the fall. I want an excellent liberal arts education in an urban setting. Mac also has an international focus, which I’m drawn to. I was deciding between this school and Vassar, which has a more advanced dance program, but ultimately I wanted to stay in the Midwest to be closer to my little sister, so I could come home and watch her grow up.


On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: (0=no impact, 10=very strong impact)
3. Classes and student works are important, but I feel like I’d need to be at a professional level before I could really make an impact on the city-wide scene.


If you will attend college for the first time, what is one challenge you expect to face and how will you face it?
It will be hard to adjust to having no one to rely on but myself! As you grow up, your parents are always there to bail you out, but once you finally live on your own, you’re completely responsible.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance:
When you’re checking out colleges, visit. Ask to sit in on a dance class and find out what the program is like. Most college programs are modern- based, so know what kind of classes you’ll be in. You don’t need to go to a conservatory to get advanced training. Especially if you have multiple interests, pursuing a liberal arts degree is a good idea. You can always further your dance training later. Good luck!

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Kerrie Korzatowski

Name: Kerrie Korzatkowski
Age: 33
Gender: female
Astrological Sign: Gemini
Define your dance interest: ballet, modern, jazz, tap
I am a
… professional, teacher

Your favorite Chicago choreographer, school or dance company and why: Hubbard Street- they reflect the best of our art form- the dancers are breathtaking- the rep. is a Chicago tradition and the new works and world renowned choreographers keep Chicago a central part of the world’s dance community.

College experience: I did go to college right from high school, but I took many detours and finished my BFA over a period of ten years. I attended the University of Iowa and Northern Illinois University- one of my dance teachers had gone to NIU


On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your confidence in your ability to impact the Chicago dance scene today: (0=no impact, 10=very strong impact)
7


If you did attend college, what were your biggest challenges at the time?
Would you do it differently if you could do it again? Being balanced- it’s an exciting time and all the aspects are equally important. There were many times I wished I had focused more on my gen-ed’s early on, but I wouldn’t trade in the wonderful journey and experiences that led me through that time in my life- especially the friendships that were made.


Do you plan on returning to school now or in the future to complete your degree, to pursue another degree or just to take a class at the college level? If so, describe your program of choice and the impetus for returning to school.
I would consider going back to school if I could find the time. I would probably want to study a combination of many things: directing, possibly some type of somatic healing work, and possibly arts management.


Your best advice for high school seniors who are interested in dance:
Perseverance- anything is possible if you put your mind to it- and don’t ever let anyone or anything hold you back from reaching your dreams- have faith!