Senior Showcase: Dance grad to attend summer course program with the Royal Danish Ballet

It may be tough for Madeline “Maddie” Wittmann to walk rather than dance across the stage of the Stevens Center on May 6 to receive her diploma from the School of Dance. She will then head to Copenhagen, Denmark, to attend the summer course program at the Royal Danish Ballet and will audition for European dance companies. We caught up with her for a quick Q&A as she takes her final bow as a UNCSA student:

What’s something valuable you learned at UNCSA?

When I came to this school, I learned that there is a much bigger picture to this art form than just dancing because you love it. I learned that dance has the ability to touch and change people. Through this art, there is an incredible amount of beauty to translate and give to the audience. There is a responsibility that comes with being an artist because you have this powerful ability to change people. Through this realization, I discovered that the more generous and giving you are with others and the audience, the more generous and forgiving you are with yourself. 

What’s an opportunity you had at UNCSA that’s different from other universities?

During “The Nutcracker,” I had the incredible opportunity to be coached by Gillian Murphy for the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Having the opportunity to learn from her and be personally coached by her was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I received here and I will always cherish.

Madeline Wittman in Serenade. Photo: Peter Mueller

Maddie Wittmann, center, dancing in "Serenade" in Winter Dance Concert in 2016. Photo: Peter Mueller

What’s your favorite performance you were a part of at UNCSA? Why?

I had the privilege to learn the Waltz Girl from George Balanchine’s Serenade. The experience of dancing this ballet and role was incredible. “Serenade” has that magic about it that is liberating. The music is beautiful and if you listen closely, it has the ability to tell you what steps come next. When I danced the Waltz Girl, I found a deepened sense of spontaneity and freedom onstage. At times, it felt like the steps just poured out of me with the music. The role really forced me to dig deep and tap into my own experiences to create my own unique waltz girl. As my exploration deepened, I discovered a different side of myself that I was able to express through my dancing.

Tell us something you wish someone had told you when you were a new student at UNCSA.

Trust yourself and remember that your authentic aim and love for your art will take you very far. This school truly has the capabilities to take you as far as your dreams can go.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

You have nothing to prove to anyone, and in that we shine.

Helen Pickett

One of my favorite quotes is from one of my many mentors, choreographer Helen Pickett. She once told me, “You have nothing to prove to anyone, and in that we shine.”

Related Note: As UNCSA’s first Visiting Distinguished Artist, Helen Pickett will lead the five-week Choreographic Development Residency (June 18 – July 22).

If you could say thank you to one person at UNCSA, who would it be and why?

Throughout my four years here, I have had many mentors and teachers that have all contributed to my growth and success. They have each shaped me as an artist in their own unique way. I am truly grateful to everyone. It is difficult to narrow this down to one individual. Speaking for this year in particular, I would say Dean Jaffe, Jennet Zerbe and Eva Draw. All three of these incredible and remarkable teachers have been completely invested and dedicated to my work and success. They have never stopped believing in me, and for that I am truly grateful.

by Elizabeth White

April 28, 2017