Meet Madison Graves, Performing Arts Major with a Concentration in Dance
“The dance program at UL Lafayette showed me there are a million opportunities for work in the field of dance outside of the realm of performance, including teaching, choreographing, arts administration, dance history, lighting, and costuming. UL Lafayette showed me how to find these opportunities, network, and market myself as a working professional in the field of dance no matter which avenue I decide on.”
- Performing Arts: Dance
- Shreveport, La.
Where I'm From
I'm from Shreveport, La., where I began dancing as a child.
Where I Am
I’m a student at UL Lafayette exploring my career choices as a dancer.
Where I'm Going
I'm going to pursue a career in dance, whether it be behind the stage or on it.
Madison Graves is pursuing her passion for dance at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
From the beginning of her student career, Madison’s classes and experiences in the dance program have helped her significantly.
“My favorite classes were my freshman and sophomore modern classes because, even though I had studied modern for seven years, these courses gave me the background and context of the techniques to fully understand not only what I was doing with my body, but why and how,” she said. “They opened my mind to a world of dance outside of the boundaries of strict technique.”
Another big help for Madison is how small and intimate her dance classes are.
“I know every dance major personally and our professors know each of us," she said. "The program is very well-rounded and allows the student to use it to their strengths and their desired career path whether that be performance, teaching, choreography, or work behind the scenes.”
Getting Experience on Stage and Off
Madison has worked on four productions during her time on campus, both on the stage and behind the curtain.
“I was injured halfway through the rehearsal process and unable to perform in State of La Danse (one of two annual productions in the program), but I was still able to be involved in the show by working backstage,” she said.
“It was the first time I experienced the production of a concert without being a performer. It gave me a whole new perspective on what it takes to put on a show.”
Her experiences performing were not easy work, either.
“Each piece in each concert rehearses four to four and a half hours a week — on top of daily ballet and modern classes. When the concert comes around, we are in the theatre for eight days for tech rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and performances,” she said.
“We perform four nights in a row, Thursday through Sunday, which was a big shift — even as someone who grew up dancing and performing. In a local studio or company setting, you would probably have two dress rehearsals and two performances at the most.”
Living In and Loving Lafayette
While keeping up with the work required in the University’s dance curriculum, Madison also does a lot of dance work outside of the classroom.
“I have been involved with the dance honors society Chi Tau Epsilon since my freshman year and currently serve as events coordinator,” she said. “This organization has given me the opportunity to become more connected with the Lafayette arts community and the courses it offers as well as performance opportunities at places like Art Walk, the Acadiana Center for the Arts, and many local nursing homes.”
Her favorite part about being on campus, though, is the wide array of diversity and cultures surrounding her.
“Growing up in Shreveport, my family wasn’t Cajun at all. It was so cool to move to a new city within my own state and experience a degree of culture shock,” she said. “It is also very diverse for a school in the deep south. Walking around campus, you hear students speaking a variety of languages and there is a wide range of cultural organizations on campus.”
While at the University, Madison has discovered a plethora of possible career paths as a dance major.
“I always thought I was limited to a big company in New York or commercial work in Los Angeles. The dance program at UL Lafayette showed me that that is not the case,” she said.
“There are a million opportunities for work in the field of dance outside of the realm of performance, including teaching, choreographing, arts administration, dance history, lighting, and costuming. UL Lafayette showed me how to find these opportunities, network, and market myself as a working professional in the field of dance no matter which avenue I decide on.”