Emory Dance alumni answer questions generated by current Emory dancers, capturing how their own body knowledge has evolved since Emory.
Their stories will inspire and motivate you!
Julio Medina, '13
In my time after Emory, I’ve learned that an education in dance prepares you to be an excellent asset to any field you go into. The skills are 100% transferrable: leadership, interpersonal skills, and creative skills are developed through performance, choreography, and formal dance techniques. At Emory, I really identified with hip-hop, modern dance, and choreography. I founded TrickaNomeTry (TNT) Dance Crew, and partnered with Moving in the Spirit, an Atlanta-based nationally acclaimed youth development program, to work with Men in Motion. I wanted to continue growing, to improve both my dancing and my creative/choreographic skills.
After graduating from Emory, I decided not to take a gap year before attending graduate school. I was accepted into UCLA’s MFA program through their Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance. I was their first student ever admitted straight out of their undergraduate education. As a first-generation Mexican-American, I hope to inspire future students, as the marvelous professors at Emory inspired me. I have danced with David Rousseve/REALITY, and was a Assistant Professor of Dance at California State University, Long Beach before joining the Emory Dance faculty in 2019 as Assistant Professor of Dance.
Liz Saluke, '08
History Major and Dance Minor
I came to Emory as a ballet dancer, and assumed that would be the form I studied. It's hilarious to me now, because while I disliked Bartenieff Fundamentals on my first go-round, I came to absolutely adore them, and more importantly see their value. The best advice I can give to a current student is to participate in as many dance opportunities as you can! The only regrets I have are the opportunities I turned down. Take advantage of anything that comes your way. Modern opened up so many more movement possibilities; I'm really glad I decided to try something new instead of sticking with the familiar. That's another piece of advice: try something outside your comfort zone.
I'm not sure I knew my goals when I was a student at Emory. I knew that I wanted to do something with the body, and I assumed that it was to teach dance in higher education, so I made the decision to get an MFA in Dance. After finishing that degree at Florida State University and working for a few years in the field, I began my first year as a Doctor of Physical Therapy student. Long term I hope to have some involvement in higher education, eastern wellness modalities, and physical therapy practice. I suspect long-term I'll find a blend of all of these things.
Sharon Carelock, '07
Dance and Theatre Studies Major
Emory Dance helped me discover that I want to perform, choreograph, and produce shows. I still benefit from the connections and knowledge that I gained through the Emory program. My path since I graduated from Emory has been long and winding. I performed for many artists in the Atlanta area, and continued to develop my skills in technical theater under the mentorship of Greg Catellier and BlackLight Productions’ Andre Allen. In 2013, I began developing of my artistic voice in Florida State University’s School of Dance Master’s Program. I created several works utilizing voice and other unique elements during my time there. After returning to Atlanta I worked with Lucky Penny as a stage manager for their summer productions and with Moving in the Spirit, a youth development dance organization, as a teaching artist and a technical director. I currently work with Core Performance Company, and have created choreographic work for them in addition to being their Production Coordinator.
Cara Lynch Miller, '07
Dance and Psychology Major
It sounds a bit trite, but I truly would not be who I am today without the Emory Dance Program and all of its faculty. The experience meant and still means the world to me. As a senior, I decided that I wanted to be a therapist, so I applied to graduate programs for social work. I was accepted into the MSW program at the University of Michigan, so I moved to Ann Arbor at the end of the summer after I graduated from Emory. I earned my MSW in 2009 and began working at a comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault non-profit called HAVEN. I’m still in Michigan, still with HAVEN, and I am a fully licensed clinical social worker now. I work directly with trauma survivors every day, both in individual counseling and in support groups.
I find that my previous life as a dancer informs who I am as a person, and by extension who I am as a therapist. Our counseling program tries to be holistic in our work, so we like to offer non-traditional forms of therapy for our clients, such as trauma-informed yoga, and day-long creative healing workshops. I have facilitated workshops and activities over the four years focusing on movement and the mind-body connection, and I am currently working on bringing in a local artist to lead some dance-related workshops for our clients.
Natalie Metzger, '07
Dance and Theater Studies Major
To get the most out of my Emory dance experience, I tried to be involved with as much as possible. I packed my days full of classes, rehearsals, and workshops; I only said "yes". After graduating a year early from Emory, I took a year off to work in the theater world. I then started my MFA in Dance and Integrated Media at the California Institute of the Arts. After graduate school, I have continued choreographing for the stage and directing dance films, as well as teaching dance at a local college.
Dance and film have combined in a really wonderful way in my career. I have always been fascinated by the body and its abilities. Dance was a clear way to explore this, but film allowed me to bring the audience right up to the body to see all of the intricacies. It was a natural progression for me. When I make dance films, the integration is clear, and even when I make narrative films that don't include dance in an explicit way, the influence is still very clear. When I'm working with actors, I focus a lot on body language and having them show, not tell. My background in dance and choreography is essential for this. I also find that my ability to shape space through choreography has translated easily into creating the frame with cinematography. It's all interrelated in my mind.
For more information aobut Natalie, please visit her website: nataliemetzger.org
Rose Caudle, '05
When I was a student at Emory, I auditioned for everything and everyone and created my own "programs" by taking my passion for performing to share dance around the campus. We called it fun and random dancing and we practiced our improvisation class exercises in the roundabout at the center of campus each week. It gave me a way to express my love for dance and performance with the Emory community. I also reached out personally to guest artists who attended to let them know my interests and desire to be an active participant in the Atlanta dance community and to ask for any advice or tips. It was always important to me to openly talk and share with others how important dance is to me.
After graduation it was never an option for me to not dance, but if anything, I started saying no to friends or people who couldn't pay for performances and rehearsals and began seeking out companies that did. I did get some work doing musicals and teaching dance to kids, but it was hard to take jobs that were not as personally appealing. I wasn't willing to continue doing projects where I felt my personal values were being sacrificed, so I went in another direction. I got more administrative jobs and danced in my free time for projects that were inspiring to me.
Currently I work as Studio Manager at CORE where I get to meet artists of all genres who use our space for rental and classes and also get to use the studio for rehearsal space and teaching yoga!
Lilian Ransijn, '05
My experience studying dance and performing has helped me in all areas of presenting myself. Dance led to my interest in working with students with special needs - creatively connecting and fostering social skills, eye contact, and communication. In this way, dance and all of its surrounding skills like non-verbal communication, offering feedback, collaborating, creating, and managing space and groups of people can be such an incredible tool in the classroom.
After graduation, I stayed in Atlanta for several years, and worked with various dance organizations ranging from Susan Eldridge/DENSE, Catellier Dance Projects, and Out of Hand Theater. I founded my own ensemble, Ground Delivery Dance Theater, in 2008 as a vehicle to experiment with the dance theater form. After attending a Pig Iron Theater Company Summer Session in Philadelphia, I decided this was the place for me and have recently completed my MFA degree in Devised Performance from the University of the Arts in Collaboration with Pig Iron Theater Company. This program helped me build the capacity to create work in many distinct genres and to work originally. I am currently working on a certification in Kettlebells and personal training. I am also working on a solo dance theater piece that I will bring to Atlanta in February, and an ensemble theater work dealing with climate change and the mortality of mothers. I hope to create a hybrid between teaching and exploring, that I might facilitate with others.
Blake Beckham, '01
Dance and English Major
The Emory Dance Program launched me into a career as a professional dance artist, giving me both the technical grounding and loving nudge I needed to adventure into the life of a choreographer, educator, arts administrator, and Director of my own production and performance company, The Lucky Penny.
While studying at Emory, I received more than personalized instruction — I received authentic mentorship that nurtured my creative voice and gave me the confidence to take risks and persist as a dance-maker.
I learned to cultivate a value system that has become the foundation of my life as an artist: to work with fierce intention, with kindness, and with an ever-deepening spirit of curiosity. It was at Emory that I discovered my passion and my agency.
Many students come to Emory because they both seek and aspire towards excellence. They want quality instruction and rigorous training to prepare them for a life in which they can make a positive impact through research, entrepreneurship and service. The Emory Dance Program gave me all these things, and more. What I ultimately took away from the Dance Program were life-long gifts: they expanded my lens for seeing and inquiring, and empowered me to take part in the magnificent and transformational process of shaping our culture.
Christine Suarez, '94
Theater & Film Studies and English Major
When I was at Emory, I danced for everyone. I think for one concert I was in four pieces. One of favorite dance classes at Emory was taking choreography from Sally Radell. One assignment we made site-specific work all over campus – that was the first time I considered where dance can happen. After I graduated I spent the summer at the American Dance Festival and then moved to New York City to dance. I spent 12 years there: collaborating with directors, actors, dancers, and musicians. In 2006 I went to UCLA to get an MFA in choreography. I still in live in Los Angeles and have an active creative life as a teaching artist, choreographer and performer. I co-created a dance program for severely mentally ill veterans at the West Los Angeles VA. I am very fortunate that I now make my living from my dance and choreography training. I have always seen dance-making as an opportunity for social change and creating community. Though I dance differently than I did as a 20 year old (a lot less jumping and flexibility), I am so grateful for the foundation that I built with the faculty at Emory. Thank you, Anna, Lori, Sally, Sheri, and dear Aldo Melito. For more information about Christine, please visit her website: www.suarezdance.org.