Public affairs in motion
Many people associate dance with technical skill, artistry and beauty. BFA dance major Nadia Stine considers it her most effective means of communication, and she often uses it to express global ideas and universal experiences.
“I love how dance has this power to cross any border,” she says. “When you watch someone dance, you’re connected.”
There are plans in the works for her original choreographed piece, ‘The Wall,’ to premiere in St. Louis this winter. It’s an interactive dance piece based on Nadia’s research into the Berlin Wall and represents new developments in her work. “It’s my first real exploration into dance theatre, where the audience moves through the dance setting and interacts with the dancers,” she says.
“It will be my first [professionally produced] work, and the fact that I’m a junior in college and getting to do something like this is pretty exciting.”
Nadia is also slated to choreograph a section of the 2017 Fall Dance Concert. She’s drawing inspiration from the cultural heritage of her brother and two sisters, who are from Sierra Leone, and plans to incorporate aspects of African dance.
“I love the groundedness of African dance,” she says, “and the fact that there is so much individuality embedded within fantastic group work.”
Nadia hopes the choreography will reflect her experiences visiting Sierra Leone when the Ebola outbreak began in 2014. “It was terrifying. I’d like to highlight how a community survives through something like this, and how it can thrive afterward.”
The opportunity to share such stories is deeply intertwined with her love of the art form. “My family didn’t have a lot of money growing up,” she says. “I worked at the studio every day so that I could afford to take classes.” The idea that others might find meaning or comfort in her work is a big part of what keeps her dancing.
Nadia plans to pursue dance as her career, and she’s thankful for the focused preparation provided by the BFA curriculum. Unique opportunities — like attending the American College Dance Association (ACDA) regional conference — are important, too.
“The first time I went to the conference changed my life,” she says. “We get to go there and take classes from teachers in colleges all over the Midwest. In four days, we take 16 or more classes. We get to showcase our choreography and watch other students perform their work.”
“Now, going to auditions all over the country, I see people I met at ACDA, which is really cool. You know someday that network is going to help you get a job.”
One of Nadia’s recent auditions paid off in a big way; she was accepted into a summer intensive with the world-famous Radio City Rockettes. During the week-long program Nadia says, “we danced eight or nine hours a day, learning the repertory of the Rockettes. That’s when I realized, yes, I have to do this. I love performing; I live for performing.”
She was surprised to be admitted “because it’s pretty different from the styles of dance I have the most training in. I’m so glad I auditioned, though,” she says. “I love their company — the amount of precision and unity. And they’re amazing to work for; they value each individual.”
These accomplishments sometimes cause Nadia to reflect on her first semester in college, when she faced some tough challenges that felt too large to shoulder on her own. “I had the best professors, Sara Brummel and Ruth Barnes especially, who helped me work through so much,” she says.
“Here I am and so many great things are happening, and if they hadn’t helped pick me up at that time, I wouldn’t be experiencing all these things. They believed in me, which was really great.”
This experience isn’t limited to her, she says; it’s a fundamental part of the environment. “Even if I make a mistake, they are there to support me and lift me up. I love our program because of that.”