Florida State University School of Dance has a few extra things to celebrate this semester as they welcome back both new and returning students alike. Two incoming MFA graduate students, Bridget Close and Julie Opiel, have been recognized by Florida State and awarded prestigious university-wide fellowships. These graduates join returning MFA candidates Gabriel Williams and LaQuan Anderson as members of the prestigious University and Presidential Fellows Society.
New MFA candidate Bridget Close has been awarded the Fellows Society Adelaide Wilson Fellowship. Designed specifically to attract highly competitive graduate students to FSU, as it is the most generous and prestigious university-wide graduate fellowship. Bridget comes to FSU with a strong background in theatre, she spent the last six years performing and collaborating with the Callous Physical Theatre and serving on the board of the Old Town Actors Studio in Idaho. Her research interests include investigations of human emotion and the body, and she is passionate about challenging traditional disciplinary boundaries. Bridget holds an MA and BS in theatre and a minor in dance from Idaho State University.
Julie Opiel, also a first-year MFA candidate, has been awarded the Legacy Fellowship, a multi-year award for newly admitted graduate students. Julie graduated from Webster University in St. Louis with a BFA in Dance. She performed professionally for three years with Ballet Memphis and with Ashani Dances in Seattle (now based in Baltimore, MD). She has taught for the Ballet Memphis School, Memphis’ Community Engagement Program, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and Project Motion in Memphis. Julie has choreographed for the Ballet Memphis School and the professional company’s Interiorworks series, as well as for Racine + Southern Dance Exchange in Memphis, Tennessee.
The School of Dance’s other current Legacy Fellowship awardee is third-year MFA candidate Gabriel Williams. Gabriel has extensive professional performance experience with Oakland Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Milwaukee Ballet 2, Black Rock City Ballet, Madison Ballet, Peninsula Ballet Theatre, Ballet Idaho, Idaho Dance Theatre, Dance Through Time, as well as being a guest artist with the Trey McIntyre Project. Gabriel has not only taught ballet, jazz, tap, but he is also partnering across the country including on faculty at the legendary Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp in Colorado. Gabriel’s primary research interest is Dance Partnering, and he will present his thesis in collaboration with the School of Dance’s Workshop for Young Dancers the first weekend in February.
MFA Candidate LaQuan Anderson, the recipient of the Leslie N. Wilson-Delores Auzenne Assistantship for Minorities, will graduate in the class of 2017. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, LaQuan graduated from the University of Arkansas with a BA in psychology and a dance minor. He has danced with the Centre for the DansArts and was a company member of The Tidwell Project. LaQuan’s major research interest, since he has been at FSU, is rooted in examining the metamorphosis and binary states of the individual as impacted by sexuality. An exploration of these topics forms the base of his “movement as research” explorations as he prepares for his thesis.