Name: Christy Chand
Courses taught: DANC 133, DANC 233, DANC 332, DANC 345, DANC 346
Being a teacher in higher education means embodying the qualities of a leader that is willing to challenge their students to broaden their horizons. It demands for a teacher to be patient, passionate and adaptive in an ever-changing society. For full-time Cal Poly professor Christy Chand, being a dance teacher at a prestigious university means guiding her students to realize their full potential in achieving their goals and growth in their personal well-being.
Christy is a dance devotee who can almost always be found discovering new, creative exercises and methods of teaching. When Christy isn’t in the studio teaching jazz technique or creating choreography, she’s in the theater directing the next production for Cal Poly’s Dance Company, Orchesis. However, in between classes, she spends time meeting with students in her office to discuss injury prevention tips, dance opportunities and ways to integrate dance into personal career paths.
Christy’s exploration of dance in higher education began with a full-ride scholarship to Cornish College of the Arts, where she received her B.F.A. in Dance. After graduating, she embarked on an eight-year journey in her career as a professional dancer. She spent these eight years with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line as Dance Captain and Company Manager, traveled across the country to choreograph for various theaters, and taught dance curriculum in different schools. She has even had opportunities to choreograph routines for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks dancers, the “Sea Gals.” Christy then pursued her M.F.A. from the University of Washington where her research focused on dance training in a holistic manner.
Christy offers classes such as beginning jazz, intermediate jazz, choreography-based classes and a dance practicum class for Orchesis, Cal Poly’s Dance Company. When we asked her why she decided to teach at Cal Poly, she provided her answer without hesitation:
“I wanted to teach somewhere where dance was appreciated, but not at a school where the students were mainly dancers,” she said. “Cal Poly has people with lives beyond dance…just people from all different realms. I’m interested in the way dance affects others and how everything outside of the studio affects dance.”
We asked Christy what it’s like to constantly work with students of diverse majors and backgrounds. After a moment of reflection, she laughed and shared stories of her past students. “One time, a student asked what exact angle they should be achieving when traveling across the stage. Another common one is when students ask what geometric shape their bodies should look like in a certain pose.”
We continued to talk about how much of a commitment being a dance professor demands. “I bring my work home – everyday. Dance is just something I’m passionate about,” Christy explained. “I’ll go to a grocery store, hear a song, find out what song it is, then I’ll buy it.” She added, “I’ll even go sit down somewhere and think of some movements for it. I think to myself, ‘This would be a great warm-up combination or across-the-floor exercise.’ It’s work, but it’s fun.”
In lieu of current events, we brought up the idea that some people believe art programs should be funded less. When asking her what she would want to tell these people, Christy says: “I would ask them to look around and notice how much of what they see was created by an artist. Art is everywhere. Everything is designed by artists and we take that for granted. I think that by taking away art, you’re taking away the opportunity for a community to come together.”
As we sat and listened to the conviction and passion behind her words, we couldn’t help but notice how much of her heart she puts into her job. To even call her work a job would be an understatement when considering the amount of time and effort she puts into her lessons outside of campus. Christy, without a doubt, puts her words into action. She plays the role of an educator in the studio and the role of an artistic visionary after hours. In terms of what her next move is, Chand is introducing a new course to Cal Poly called “Active Wellness,” which will cater to student’s health and wellness in a customizable and practical way.