Madilyn Cashio lives to dance — and she came to UL Lafayette to make a career of it.
“I dance all day, every day,” she said. “Dancing is fun to me. It’s not a chore. So, I have to make sure that my hard work stuff is done – doing my math homework, doing dishes, all of that is done before I can do the fun stuff. It’s like my reward.”
Madilyn grew up taking dance classes and performing on a dance competition team at a studio in Livonia, La. until she was a senior in high school. That year, she was accepted into the Joffrey Ballet School in Dallas.
Madilyn’s family let her move to Texas for her last year of high school under one condition: that she return to Louisiana after the year was over.
“My dance teacher (in Louisiana) who gave me my passion for dance – she actually graduated from UL Lafayette’s dance program,” Madilyn said. “So, when I came back home, I was like, I want to go to college. I want to make sure I have a grounded degree, and I knew nothing else would fit besides dance.
“In Louisiana, UL Lafayette’s dance program is the most high-quality dance program you will find, so there was no question about coming to UL Lafayette,” she said.
Attending the Joffrey Ballet School gave Madilyn a different perspective about dancing as she started college.
“Growing up, I always thought the dance world was like what they have on Instagram: all the hip hop and L.A. But going to the conservatory opened my eyes to concert dance,” she said. (Concert dancers are part of a company and are paid to be full-time dancers, including traveling and rehearsing on top of performances.)
“That’s UL Lafayette’s strong background: concert dance,” Madilyn said. “I knew from the get-go it was going to be a good choice.”
A Commitment to Dance
While Madilyn loves studying dance at UL Lafayette, there are still challenges.
“It’s hard knowing all of your friends have a lot of time, and dance takes a lot of yours,” she said. “But your work ethic and your determination and the passion you have — that really determines if you want to do it or not.
"It does take a special person to say, ‘I can’t celebrate because I have rehearsals this weekend for my production in the spring.’ That does suck sometimes, but I like to think of the bigger picture, and dance is always in my bigger picture.”
Through her dance classes on campus, Madilyn is preparing for her future as a professional dancer.
“There’s a different, professional side to dance,” she said. “It’s how to go in to take a professional class and how to act in auditions and things like that. UL Lafayette has one of the most professional atmospheres — I mean, yeah, they’re fun and chill, but they really show you how to apply dance etiquette in every aspect of life and do it efficiently. I think that’s one of the main things that I didn’t learn growing up.”
Looking to her future, Madilyn’s excited about spending her life doing what she loves.
“Every day, you go into a dance class, and there’s something new that can challenge you,” she said. “I like looking in the mirror and feeling accomplished but knowing that I won’t get bored with it.
“I know there are so many different things in dance that I could try to do: I could take up ballroom, salsa, teach at a high school in Japan,” she said. “There’s so much variety in dance, and most people don’t really know that. But when you’re in college, they open those doors for you.”