Every Spring the UNH Dance Company holds a concert, and this year the production chosen was 'Alice in Wonderland.' Shayla Stewart was not only chosen as one of the captains on the company, but also casted as Alice! Keep reading to find out more about the show, along with so many interesting facts and thoughts regarding her dancing career thus far.
Name: Shayla Stewart
Hometown: Barnstable, MA
Activities/Clubs: UNH Dance Company and Alpha Xi Delta
You recently danced as Alice in the UNH Dance Company Concert ‘Alice in Wonderland’, tell us all about it!
Every September, Gay Nardone, the director of UNH JTA Dance Company, holds auditions for the upcoming years Spring Dance Company Concert. Each year, she casts the appropriate number of dancers for the show she plans on doing. This year, there were 33 members on the company to perform the production ‘Alice in Wonderland’. I was casted as Alice, as well as being selected as one of the captains on the company. I got lucky that my senior year, Gay decided to do Alice in Wonderland because not only was I one of her elite dancers, but I also looked the part! It was a beast of a show! There were so many details that had to be incorporated into this production, and with such a large company, it was hectic to schedule rehearsal times but we did it, and it was amazing! Critics loved it and I could not have asked for a better way to finish out my UNH Dance Company career!
When did you first begin dancing? What kind of dancing did you start out doing?
I started dancing at the age of three. When you start dancing that young, you are typically placed in a Creative Movement type of class, as I was. It is basically a ballet class for young children who are trying to figure out their motor skills.
What types of dancing are you capable of/do you participate in now?
I am trained in tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, lyrical, modern, contemporary, and aerial.
What is your favorite part about dancing/being a part of UNH Dance Company?
My favorite part about being a member of the UNH Dance Company was learning how to perform Aerial. It has taught me a whole new way to think about how I can use my body as an instrument. As a performer you are always thinking of ways to impress the audience and aerial is a great way to do that because it is fascinating to watch.
This may be a tough question to answer, but what is your least favorite part about dancing/being a part of UNH Dance Company?
This is a tough one! My least favorite thing about being a member of the UNH Dance Company is probably having Saturday morning rehearsals at 8 a.m. They were necessary but waking up for them was not easy!
I know that you do aerial dancing, tell us what that is all about!
Aerial started in the 70’s and it incorporates apparatuses that are rigged to the ceiling, which allows dancers to move their body’s in the air with the support of which ever apparatus they’re using. There are multiple types of apparatuses such as fabric, lyra, trapeze (static & flying), hammock, straps, cube, triple trapeze, etc. To be a successful aerialist requires a great deal of strength and patience. It is rare that you execute a trick perfectly on your first try, so, if you have a tendency to get frustrated and give up aerial is not the sport for you.
What are some of the physical struggles you have encountered/overcome thus far in your dance career?
Luckily, I have not sustained any serious physical injuries, but being a dancer, especially an aerial dancer, we contort our bodies into positions that is not natural so I do have my everyday aches and pains. On our busy weeks, it is not unusual for me to feel like a 70-year-old woman getting out of bed in the morning, but it’s nothing I cant handle!
What other involvements do you have here on campus?
Other than being on the UNH Dance Company, I am a member of Alpha Xi Delta!
Give us one fun fact about you!
I can lick my elbow!
Lastly, if you could pick next week’s campus celebrity, who would it be and why?
Colleen Kelty. On top of being an amazing person, she is the president of UNH’s Greek Panhellenic Council!