Dance teachers connect with students by sharing their personal origin stories

Published: April 28, 2023 Author: Staff reports

Recently, the School of Dance faculty and staff convened an inaugural panel discussion, open to all students. The Faculty Career Workshop invited faculty and staff members to offer insights into their career trajectory, including important milestones, networking opportunities, and teachers or mentors who made an impact on them.

Aiming to support students as they envision and advocate for their own sense of place in the evolving arts and culture sector, faculty and staff shared their professional background and experiences, and answered questions from students in attendance. Students heard from OHIO professors John Bohuslawsky, Christi Camper Moore, Zelma Badu-Younge, Tresa Randall and Travis Gatling.

While students work closely with individual members of the faculty throughout their time at OHIO, it’s not everyday that the faculty community make themselves available for a full career focused dialogue such as this one.

“This was one of the most informative experiences I have had my entire time at OU. Getting to hear how everyone had a career in dance but each had different areas of expertise was very inspiring and was a big reminder of why I am doing what I am doing here,” Caleb Morris, a first year BFA student in dance, said. 

The Faculty Career Workshop advanced discussions about internships and networking while provided insight to the myriad ways one can make a living as a dancer. The workshop also provided an informal means for positive student engagement and community building.

“This session was so impactful, and I am really happy that I was present. We all assume that these individuals [faculty] just teach dance, but do not know the history behind them,” Deon Baptiste, MA Community Dance 2023, said. “The most important thing I picked up on in this workshop was the idea of connection and community. The importance of how you connect with people and your lasting impression gets you further in life no matter where you are. A connection made here is a connection for life.”


Dance faculty Travis Gatling talks to students
School of Dance Faculty, Travis Gatling, speaks to students about his career trajectory. Photo by Daniel King, MFA '15.

The Faculty Career Workshop is part of Dr. Christi Camper Moore’s research and is supported by her 1804 grant, “Student retention and engagement: Expanding curricular supports and aligning experiential learning to support dance majors and their career readiness.”

This 1804 project, through its expanded and multi-faceted approach to examining student engagement and retention, continues to explore curricular innovation and design and aims to create a more explicit sense of community to connect students to their peers and the dance faculty.

“I asked the faculty about struggle in their careers and how they dealt with this. The responses humanized the faculty. It gave me hope that the mental, physical, and financial struggle within the dance field is unavoidable, but everyone can get through it! The biggest thing that stuck in my mind was that all the struggle is temporary and is possible to overcome. I felt like I could relate to my professors more after asking this question and eventually ask them for help if I was struggling,” recalls Chloe Bray, a third-year BFA Dance student.

The School of Dance has also collaborated with Ohio University’s Center for Advising, Career and Experiential Learning (ACE). ACE has presented to the School of Dance and provided students with important resources for support and constatations for how to align the available resources and information in support of career preparation and planning.

"The School of Dance is working to expand curricular innovations, engage students in creative research activities, and advance strategies that equip undergraduate students more fully with the skills needed for impactful careers,” Zelma Badu-Younge, director of the School of Dance, said. “This workshop fits into this effort in an efficient and impactful way.”

"The School of Dance is committed to providing innovative opportunities for students to think critically about their learning and career preparation," Camper-Moore said. "We are continuously reflecting on - and responding to - what is happening in the field of dance and offering ways to better support our students, build relationships, and expand their networks.”