Madeline (Maddie) Sharp ‘22
Majors: Dance, Psychology
How did you decide to become a Dance major?
I added a dance minor my first week at LMU and then switched to a major a few weeks later. I have danced for most of my life and realized quickly in college that it was something I could not live without. Even though I joined a dance crew and was enrolled in a few technique courses during my first semester, the LMU dance program was not only extremely impressive but also very inspiring to me. After both watching and experiencing dance at LMU, I knew that adding the dance major would allow me to push myself and give me the skills necessary to pursue professional dance and choreographic endeavors.
Tell us a little about your time at LMU.
I am double-majoring in Dance and Psychology, with a minor in Education. I am also graduating with my Secondary Education Credential in Physical Education. Within the dance department, I have performed in the departmental dance concerts and have had choreography accepted through adjudication into the Spring Concert for three consecutive years as well as completed a choreographic senior thesis.
I am a member of the National Dance Education Organization, in which I currently serve as the President and have taught at NDEO’s high school teaching placement. Additionally, I participated in the community tour group for Bernard Brown’s “Glimmer”, which consisted of a performance and lecture program for various high schools. I also was selected to shadow and co-teach in the original iteration of a middle school artist-in-school program for Bill T. Jones’s “Deep Blue Sea” during my junior year. My favorite non-dance involvement was when I served as the Vice President of the Residence Hall Association, which is LMU’s student government for on-campus residents. Other previous involvement highlights include being a member of Ignatians Service Organization, an Orientation Leader, a Building Senator for the Residence Hall Association, a dancer in Radix Dance Crew, and a work-study employee for the Theatre and Dance Department’s Costume Shop.
What are your post-graduation plans and how did you come to that decision?
After graduation, I will be pursuing professional dance, with a focus on Jazz and Modern, and teaching dance. I was recently offered a full-time teaching position at a LAUSD performing arts magnet middle school for the 2022-2023 school year. I decided to teach dance because I love it and feel like it's a very fulfilling profession, as well as believe that it will be a good job to have while I am still training and building my presence in the dance world.
Did you have a particular experience that led you to this path?
Wanting to be a professional dancer has always been in the back of my mind, but the fall semester of my senior year solidified that aspiration. I was cast in works by Laura Smyth, Micaela Taylor (reset by Gigi Todisco), and Bernard Brown for the fall dance concert and I felt deeply honored to be a part of their works. Being in such an intensive rehearsal and performance process allowed me to realize that I undoubtedly wanted to pursue dance. As far as teaching 7-12th grade dance, during my second semester, I took a class with previous LMU professor Teresa Heiland whom one day asked if anyone was interested in teaching dance and I immediately raised my hand. We had a long conversation after that about different teaching pathways and opportunities. She, as well as current LMU professor Kristen Smiarowski, have been very supportive and crucial to my development and continuation as a dance teacher. Both of them pushed me to add the education credential and have been essential to my dance education pursuits and successes.
In the near term, I would love to be a company member of a Jazz or Modern dance company. Some of my longer-term aspirations include directing and teaching a serious dance training program for high school students that would ideally be free of cost and/or directing my own dance company.
How do you feel you experience at LMU prepared you for this next step?
I think having a multifaceted education has been crucial to my preparation for “adult life”. I am thankful to have been able to study so many various fields of coursework at LMU and believe that this array of knowledge paired together has been so crucial. LMU has also provided me with countless opportunities for “hands-on” learning and leadership experiences. Every LMU-related opportunity I have had is entirely different, providing me with new skills, knowledge, connections, and invaluable experience.
All of the dance training I have received has been very versatile, exploring many distinctly different techniques within each of the offered styles. Knowing that I have had a wide variety of movement training, I feel more confident stepping into new dance spaces and auditions. I am grateful for how supportive my LMU dance professors have been and the mentorship that some of them provide me with on a regular basis.
What will you miss most about LMU?
I will miss the LMU Dance community so much! I have made irreplaceable memories in the LMU dance studios and with my friends whom I met through dance. The LMU dancers and professors are all such lovely and talented individuals, so I will miss seeing them every day and dancing in community.
What advice do you have for underclassmen?
Get involved on campus! I definitely encourage students to get involved within their field of study as well as in at least one organization and/or leadership opportunity that is unrelated to their major. Take advantage of the fact that you have some time to focus on your personal development and really give yourself the opportunity to enjoy the different layers of a college experience.