Melissa McCann 17 ~ Point Park University International Summer Study (A) Scholarship
Melissa McCann is seventeen years old and has been dancing since she was three at a local studio. She has participated in many competitions since third grade, but has learned that dance isn’t all about the trophies and ribbons. To Melissa, dance is the most powerful way she can express herself. She wants to pursue a career in dance, so she can speak to the rest of the world through the movement of her body. No matter where her life takes her, she know she will be happy if she is dancing.
Throughout her dance career, Melissa has mainly concentrated on jazz, musical theatre and contemporary ballet. She has choreographed for Kinetic Poetic Dance Company and is currently choreographing her high school’s Musical, “Footloose.” Her dream is not to be famous, but to live her life doing something she truly loves.
Melissa's goals for the next two years include attending a 2011 summer intensive, auditioning for college and deciding where her life will go after high school. She would like to major in dance in college, all the while auditioning as much as she can for experience.
My six-week stay at Point Park University’s International Summer Dance Intensive changed my life. From working with the phenomenal staff and meeting some of the most amazing friends I could ever wish for, to growing and learning new styles that completely opened my eyes to a new world of dance, I could not have been a more happy seventeen year old girl this summer. Since I had attended Point Park’s three-week summer intensive in 2010, I arrived with a familiar feeling, only hoping that summer 2011 could meet 2010’s standards. Well, I certainly underestimated my standards because my stay this summer blew 2010 right out of the park. To start, I could not have asked for better roommates. We became sisters. We clicked right from the beginning and never even had one argument, which is saying a lot for a room full of four girls. We also became great friends with about six guys (one being Antuan Byers who received the other PPU summer intensive scholarship) and soon we had a solid group of eleven that sat together for every meal in the cafeteria and became best friends. Lucky for us, the dance world is small, so we all plan on meeting up later in life.
Now on to the dancing, since after all that was the most important part of attending PPU for six weeks. The first couple of days are full of placement classes, which are always nerve-racking. There are eight levels and since I was placed in level seven for ballet and eight for jazz and modern last year, I knew I had to do well. Luckily, I was placed in level eight for all three sections this summer. Next on the agenda were auditions for showcase pieces. I was cast as a soloist in David Storey’s contemporary piece and in Patrick Franz’s contemporary pointe dance. Working with both of these choreographers was an amazing and memorable dance experience I will never forget. Learning to partner with Maurice Dowell in David’s piece “Something Always Brings Me Back to You” taught me so much, both technically and emotionally. I had never partnered prior to this summer and since then I have grown so much. Pas de Duex class every Monday, Wednesday and Friday helped Maurice and I gain the technique we needed to successful partner in David’s dance. I was also informed on the biggest secret there is to partnering; it all has to do with the timing between two people, not just strength. I also learned how much work it takes to be the one lifted. It always looks so flawless and easy when a man throws the petite dancer on his shoulder, but truthfully, it takes a lot on the girl’s part as well. We must hold our own weight at times and always keep our abs engaged. Patrick Franz’s piece was also an amazing experience because we performed with live music, something I definitely was not used to. Performing to a live pianist was wonderful, but it was difficult for the tempo could change at any given time. This made me become a more aware dancer on stage and really listen and use the music to enhance my dancing.
The faculty this summer was spectacular. Even if a certain class was not my favorite, there was always something to grasp and take with me from each teacher. Some of the most incredible and inspirational teachers were Kiki Lucas, David Storey, Tome Cousins, Keisha Lalama- White and Gustavo Zajac. Each of these teachers taught some form of jazz, ranging from contemporary to Broadway, and I looked forward to these classes everyday. I feel that choosing to attend Point Park’s six-week dance intensive was one of the best decisions of my life because it improved my dancing drastically. I must thank you, The Dance Council of North Texas, because without this scholarship opportunity, my incredible summer would not have been possible.
~ Melissa McCann