Alumni Testimonials

Alumni Testimonials

Karlie Esworthy

Karlie Esworthy

Image: Penn State

Karlie Esworthy, '15

  • Human Development and Family Studies Major
  • Dance Studies Minor
  • Intern at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival 2015

As I was searching for a summer internship during my senior year at Penn State Altoona, I remembered learning about the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in my dance history class. I believe that what set me apart from the other candidates were the personal recommendations from my professors along with the coursework and projects we completed in the dance program. Writing, research, specific courses like Laban Notation and Bartenieff Fundamentals, and a personal touch are all elements of dance at Penn State Altoona.

The intern program at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival is truly one of a kind for the professional mentorship you experience within your specific position, the ability to network with choreographers and dancers from around the world, and the strong connections and skills you strengthen with your peers and staff. Working in the arts for the first time, I experienced how important the work you do is to the community, and how passionate, genuine art begins with a strong foundation. I am grateful for the dance program at Penn State Altoona for being my strong foundation in the art of dance as well as providing me with diverse and unique opportunities to perform, learn, and grow. Not only did I graduate with a Bachelors degree, I graduated with a network that continues to support me in the pursuit of my passions.

After my internship I moved to Brooklyn, New York to pursue the dance community and begin to build my career. I currently study Capoeira at the Capoeira Angola Quintal Academy in New York and volunteer with Dancing Classrooms (an organization that teaches ballroom dance to children in public schools around New York). I plan to pursue a Masters Degree in Movement Therapy in the near future to combine my passions of healing, helping people, and dancing.

Danielle Johnson

Danielle Johnson

Image: Penn State

Danielle Johnson, '15

  • Integrative Arts Major, Dance and Biology
  • 2014 Recipient of the Liszka Award for Theatre, Arts, Dance, or Voice
  • American Dance Festival alumni 2014

The dance program at Penn State Altoona is for the dancer looking to become an artist. I always wanted to spend my life in the world of dance, but I never would have found the confidence to move to New York City and pursue a career as a dancer/choreographer without first obtaining my undergraduate degree at Penn State Altoona.

My professors not only gave me knowledge and training, but opportunities to expand my understanding of what I could potentially do, as well as the support I needed as a budding artist. During my time as an undergraduate I was given support to attend the American Dance Festival, where I studied with professional dancers, took masterclasses with world renowned companies, and performed in new works from up and coming choreographers. As a member of Altoona's student company, Ivyside Dance Ensemble, I experienced what life would be like as a working professional. Being a part of the ensemble also afforded me the ability to create and present my own choreographic work during my last semester. This program gave me all of tools and training I needed to succeed as well as the freedom to explore who I wanted to be as a performer. My time in the dance program not only taught me what I could be as a dancer, but what I could do as an artist, and allowed me to become the individual that I am today.

Ruoxi Zhang

Ruoxi Zhang

Image: Penn State

Ruoxi Zhang, Penn State '14

  • BS in Psychology, focus in Neuroscience, Biology minor
  • MCM, R-D/MT (Lesley University, 2016)
  • Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling specializing in Dance/Movement Therapy
  • Registered Dance/Movement Therapist affiliated with the national organization of the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA)
  • Expected certification in Laban Movement Analysis

I remember entering the glorious Misciagna dance studio at Penn State Altoona as a first year student in the autumn of 2010 with absolutely no background or experience in the performing arts. Throughout the next two years, I concurrently took classes towards my formal degree while also pursuing my new found passion for dance. The level and depth of quality instruction helped refine my technique as a dancer. It also opened the doors to my current profession: incorporating dance into the work of psychotherapy. Even though I transferred to University Park finish my degree, and eventually moved out of state to pursue my Master's, I still find myself vicariously revisiting the beautiful studio in my memories. This program gave me a strong foundation to build upon, and I will be ever grateful for the opportunities it has provided me.

On the path to unearthing one's professional identity, there will be many lessons both inside and outside of the classrooms. How much a student learns within the classroom is up to the student herself. How much a student is able to acquire outside of the classroom depends on the availability within their environment; including peers, instructors, and opportunities. The Integrative Arts program at Penn State Altoona, specifically the faculty, equipped me with not only the techniques and knowledge to achieve my goals but also inspired me with their patience and love for educating the incoming generations.