The lights dim, the curtains open and Ellie van Bever takes center stage, but it’s not at AU — it’s at the Kennedy Center.
AU’s dance program is teaming up with the Christopher K. Morgan & Artists professional dance company to train AU students as apprentices. This year, van Bever, a School of Public Affairs senior, gets to perform with the company at venues like the Kennedy Center, Sydney Harmon Hall and The Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda.
“The Kennedy Center was really nerve-racking,” van Bever said. “[But] I’m happy I can have this apprenticeship so at least I can dip my foot into professional dance.”
Indeed, with the tough economy for students who want to pursue their passions in dance such opportunities seem like once-in-a-lifetime moments. But for AU Artist-in-Residence Morgan, it is all about helping students strive for what they want to do.
“[The apprenticeship] is really for AU students to find opportunities to find outlets for dancing while also giving them some professional experience to put on their résumés,” Morgan said.
For van Bever, the experience to work with professional dancers is a real blessing.
“Working with professional dancers is different than working with students,” she said. “You don’t realize you dance like a student until you are around professionals who are self-assured and confident.”
But such valuable opportunities for van Bever come with the side-effect of putting the pressure on her to balance her academics with her apprenticeship, especially with her looming graduation.
For his part too, Morgan helps van Bever deal with her busy schedule by working around her classes. Ellie was selected after months of vetting by Morgan and Melanie George, the director of the College of Arts and Sciences dance program, last May.
Ellie is very much optimistic about her future. She plans to pursue dance professionally and plans to audition in New York or dance abroad after school.
“I’m very grateful,” she said. “It’s been fantastic and I can’t wait to see where it’ll lead to.”