GCU dance duo earns scholarships for major summer program at Duke
By Janie Magruder
GCU News Bureau
In more ways than one, Monique Streety and Nicole Mayes plan to put their best feet, all four of them, forward over the next seven weeks.
The Grand Canyon University dance students earned scholarships to attend the 82nd season of the American Dance Festival’s intensive Six Week School which begins Thursday and runs through July 25 on the campus of Duke University in Durham, N.C.
They will join an estimated 300 students ages 16 and older from about 40 states and 25 countries, from Germany to Uruguay, “to train and to create, to see and be seen,” according to the ADF website. The students will dive in to modern, ballet, hip-hop, improvisation and other techniques taught by top dance faculty.
Neither Streety, a 20-year old junior from Phoenix, nor Mayes, a 21-year-old senior from Apache Junction, have been to North Carolina. The dance-education majors received a combined $2,750 in scholarships to attend the school and plan to absorb all they can.
“It’s such a big thing,” said Mayes, who started dance lessons at age 2. “People who teach at ADF are some of the biggest names in the industry, and it has a great reputation. You can make a ton of connections there.”
Mayes, a resident adviser in GCU’s new Acacia dorm this fall, will live off campus in Durham in a house with five other ADF students, while Streety, who works in GCU’s Event Services, will have one roommate in a Duke dorm room. Streety said she can’t wait to dive into various dance techniques, to take courses in topics such as choreography and injury prevention, and to clear up any misconceptions about GCU.
“Everywhere we go people ask, ‘Is GCU in the Grand Canyon?’” said Streety, who took her first formal dance lessons at 16. “We want people to know GCU is here and we have something to say and something to prove – Lope pride.”
Additionally, Streety was invited to audition in May for entrance into the prestigious Ailey/Fordham Bachelor of Fine Arts Program, a partnership of The Ailey School and Fordham University in New York City. She performed three dances for faculty there and expects to learn soon of her possible acceptance for the fall.
“No matter the outcome, this experience opened my eyes to what I want to do,” she said. “Ailey is an amazing company — athletic, strong, passionate — and I realized I want to be part of it, and of course (being a part of) The Lion King.”
On the road to Durham
Streety and Mayes were persuaded to apply for ADF by Leanne Schmidt, a GCU Dance Department faculty member who said the program’s benefits are numerous.
The festival is an international magnet for choreographers, dancers, teachers, students, critics, musicians and scholars to learn and create in a supportive environment. Programs includes performances, artist services, educational programs and classes, community outreach, national and international projects, archives, humanities projects, publications and media projects.
It’s a great experience for young Phoenix dance students, Schmidt said, because a small pool of artists live or travel here to perform. Being part of such a storied program can be a stepping stone to creating big futures in places like the Big Apple, she added.
“ADF exposes dancers to many different professional artists from all over the country and world,” Schmidt said. “It gives the student a taste of what it means to be a professional artist. It give them an opportunity to network with professionals that can be a resource to them once they leave college. It can introduce them to teachers who are on faculty in graduate programs.”
Beyond the networking, students audition and potentially collaborate and perform for professional teachers and artists, and they watch an impressive and diverse offering of professional performances, Schmidt said.
“They get to immerse themselves in a culture that is nothing but dance for six weeks,” she said. “How cool is that?”
Mayes is looking forward to sharing at least part of that culture with other GCU dance students back home and, someday, with her own students.
“I have so many options with where I can go with my degree that I think this is going to help narrow down where I specifically want to go,” she said.
ADF was founded in 1934 in Bennington, Vermont, with choreographers Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. It has been heralded as “one of the nation’s most important institutions” by The New York Times and as “the world’s greatest dance festival” by the New York Post.
Contact Janie Magruder at 602-639-8018 or [email protected].