Dance is an art form that, in many cases, requires performers to move as an ensemble. Cortney Vartanian knows the importance of esprit de corps, but she’s also learned the value in making the choreography your own.

“Our professors preached individuality. They encouraged us to find our own voice here. We are all going through the same program, but as dancers we are different and need to express that.”

Vartanian is from Monroe, North Carolina. She says dance has always been a part of her life, but it was at UNC Greensboro that she found so many new ways to embrace the art form:

“The diversity that we have in the School of Dance faculty and students is awesome. It has given me so many different perspectives. My preferred style is Jazz but we are also getting contemporary, ballet, and African dance training. The professors have such amazing backgrounds. After my audition here I went to the website and started reading the faculty bios. I was hooked.”

As soon as she arrived on campus, Vartanian jumped in with both feet. In her first year she became her cohort representative, a position she’s held each year. She participated in the student organization Primemovers and served on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council. She just finished student teaching at Weaver Academy, Greensboro’s arts highschool.  Her advice to current and future students is to seize every opportunity:

“Take it all in. Take all the classes that you can. Repeat a class if you are able to learn more from it. If something scares you, don’t shy away. Just go for it. Take all the risks you can. If something feels uncomfortable, you’re doing it right. Don’t take anything for granted. We have such a short time here—four years, give or take. There’s so much to learn here, I just wanted it all.”

Vartanian is auditioning for dance companies and exploring teaching positions in public schools and private studios. She says she’s well-prepared for whatever comes her way:

“There are so many professors who’ve had an impact on my life. I feel like I’ve made connections that will stay with me, and I will be taking a little bit of something from all of them. I think the one that resonates most with me is Maurice Watson. What he has done in his professional life and the way he teaches is the kind of road I’m on. After graduation I just want to get out there and travel, see the world. I want to get off of this East Coast! I’ve been all up and down it because that’s where family is, and now it’s time to get out there and travel, see the world. It doesn’t matter if I’m performing or teaching, as long as I’m in the dance world, I’m happy.”

Story by Terri W. Relos

Photo credit: Caitlin Hargett