What was your dance training and background before coming to UA?
Like many, I have been dancing from a very young age… but my dance studies intensified around 4th grade when I became very involved in musical theater. I danced with a local studio studying ballet, tap, and jazz, but also with the preparatory program at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Most of our training was geared towards jazz, musical theatre dance, tap, and contemporary. I danced with CCM through high school, and really discovered my love of tap. I struggled to find a lot of rhythm tap dancers in my hometown of Cincinnati, so I began attending conventions in New York and LA each summer, as well as practicing independently.
Why did you choose UA for your undergraduate degree?
I was looking for a dance program that offered tap dance as a part of the core
What was an important learning experience for you during your time at UA?
I learned to set personal goals, rather than set goals based on the successes of my colleagues—I think that is a really important lesson. We all, of course, will (and should) be inspired by those around us, but in order to reach our maximum potential our goals should be defined based on our own capabilities, not the capabilities of others. We all watch other students in
How did UA’s Dance Program prepare you for a career in dance or your current field of work?
My route after the dance program is a little unorthodox. I am now in my third, and final, year of law school at New York Law School, and will graduate in May. Following graduation, I will work as an Associate with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York City, hopefully in the Litigation group. However, the dance program has helped prepare me for my career immensely. It provided me with a strong foundation in diligence and discipline, both of which are critical in law school. It also taught me how to handle competition amongst colleagues, as you are often competing against your friends for spots in dance pieces. This is unavoidable in law school as well, where you are constantly competing against your classmates to earn the highest ranking.
The dance program was also an incredible outlet for creativity. Having the opportunity to choreograph works for
If you could provide advice for an incoming UA students, what would you tell them?
Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. This includes your daily, core classes. The opportunity to take ballet five days a week, for an hour and a half, is such a luxury, and one that I promise you will miss after graduation. Every student should prioritize exposing themselves to all sides of the art form: training, creating, performing, and learning from the faculty and visiting companies. I know schedules can be very overwhelming, especially if you are adding on additional classes for a different major/minor as well, but don’t let the countless opportunities the dance program puts in front of you to slip away.
How has dance affected your life and your career?
Dance is not what initially drew me to law school, but it what made me fall in love with the law. Since beginning school, I have worked for organizations such as Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, and with the Intellectual Property group at Cleary Gottlieb, where I get to work with artists and help them protect their creations. I love being able to work in an area I am so passionate about, and feel that my background in dance allows me to connect with clients on another level, because I understand their needs and creative thinking.
I would also say that dance has entirely shaped my way of
Commitment: the first word that comes to mind when alumnus, Lauren Dangelo, reflects on The University of Akron Dance Program. She states, “I made sure that I had a high level of involvement while in the dance program. Guzzetta Hall [Center for Dance and Theatre] was definitely my home away from home.” Long days of rehearsal and the energy that it took to be a part of the program was a big commitment; but in the end, it
While at the University of Akron, Lauren was greatly involved in opportunities offered by the UA Dance Program. She choreographed and danced in an array of performances and collaborated with student colleague, Leah Abay, to create their own BFA showcase. This allowed her to truly understand the “behind-the-scenes” aspect of concert dance. Her level of commitment was recognized with a 2014 Senior Dance Award. After graduating Magna Cum Laude, Lauren went on to be a trainee with the Charlottesville Ballet in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Currently, Lauren describes herself as a freelance dancer. She works with Verb Ballet on an array of different projects and teaches and dances for Cleveland City Dance in Shaker Square, Cleveland, Ohio. Recently, she began to collaborate with Cleveland photographer, Thomas Sawyer, to create The Monotype Collective. Lauren describes the dancing and the cinematography as completely organic because every component of the collection is created on site. Their future goal is to expand their work by collaborating with an assortment of brands, companies, studios, and other creatives, to bring together multiple mediums within the arts. Lauren states, “I believe it's really important for the arts, no matter what medium, to stick together. It's wonderful to see a community of different artists working together to achieve a common goal, and I want to be a part of that.”
Lauren encourages UA Dance Program students to get involved, keep an open mind, and leave all doors wide open. Lauren offers advice, “You never know what something will be like, or how that opportunity or connection you made will benefit you in the future. The opportunities that the University of Akron's Dance Program has given me have been endless!”
Check out Lauren’s work.
What was your dance background before coming to UA?
I trained at a small recreational studio in Medina County. Most of my training was in Jazz and entertainment and I knew I would benefit from a solid ballet training and gaining more experience with concert dance. The University of Akron offered a dance program that provided me with the opportunity to gain that experience and training.
Why did you choose UA and how did the dance program prepare you for your career?
I could go on forever with this question. The University of Akron is really invaluable to the community. Location played a big part. I was a first-generation college student in my family so college seemed as if it may not be possible. The University of Akron being only 45 minutes from my home allowed me to commute and provided a dance program that fit my needs.
Getting to work with passionate faculty members such as Jerry Burr, Kathleen Davis, Inna Stabrova, Priscilla Wagner, Tom Smith, Margaret Carlson and Marc Ozanich
What is your favorite UA memory?
I have many memories
You have worked in so many different areas of the dance world.
Is that what you envisioned for your career?
What has been the most rewarding? I never envisioned my career path being what it is today. I always knew I wanted to perform and that my fall back would always be dance. I love all aspects of the art form and knew I would always be a part of it somehow. Teaching has been the most rewarding part of my career. I have had so many teachers who have inspired me and allowed me to guide other dancers.
If you had to provide advice for an incoming UA dancer, what would you say?
I would tell them to work hard and make connections with people. A lot of dancers today have experience in competition and become accustomed to a “me vs. you” mentality. It is so important for dancers to understand ensemble work. Learning how to work together with other dancers along with their technical training and UA’s dance program provides that.
Kelsey, why did you choose UA's dance program for your undergraduate career?
It was just far enough that I could still travel home occasionally and one of
Why did you choose to move to Chicago to pursue your career?
Every time I visited Chicago for auditions, job searches, or weekend trips it always felt right. The tap community here is very diverse and there are many avenues that can be explored within it.
I actually first came across jorsTAP Chicago on a Google search. It still amazes me that I am dancing with the company that I once spent evenings watching on YouTube.
How has UA's Dance Program prepared you for a successful dance career?
Dancing at UA taught me the importance of professionalism in the classroom and rehearsal setting. It's not always just about the dancing, your dependability and how you carry
Do you often street perform and what are your street performances like?
My friend Carmen and I try to get out once a week to street perform, however weather and scheduling can sometimes affect our plans. It is a common misconception that performers are doing this just to hustle people for money. That is not our motive. We decided to peddle because we want to further develop our technique, improvisation, and performance skills in order to engage an audience. It is always fun to see how street goers will react to our dancing and it gives us an outlet to share our art form with others.
What are your future goals and endeavors?
There are so many incredible tap dancers in Chicago. Being surrounded by so much talent it's easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others which
What is some advice that you would give current UA dance students?
Network, network, network! It really is incredible how small the dance world is. Making meaningful connections leads to more opportunities. Be persistent. Lots of doors will close, but
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