Dancing her way through life, Senior Kelsey Hanstad is an exceptional person who is proud to call herself a Gustie. The dance major from Coon Rapids, Minn. has enjoyed her final year at GAC and has used her time to take the spotlight and shine.
From the moment Kelsey toured campus her junior year of high school, she immediately felt Gustavus was the right choice.
“It just felt like home. It felt like a community I wanted to be a part of,” Kelsey said.
One of Kelsey’s favorite things about Gustavus is the people she has met through the Dance program. She has had many opportunities to dance other places and has made friends through the program.
“She’s certainly a very remarkable dancer. She’s part of a community of pretty remarkable dancers,” Rusinko said.
Kelsey is heavily involved with the dance program at Gustavus. She went to the 2014 American Collegiate Dance Festival Association and had a piece she choreographed chosen to be performed at the Gala Concert. She is also participating in three other pieces for the 2014 Spring Dance Concert, and that’s only this spring. The solo she performed for the dance concert was choreographed by Guest Artist and Gustavus Alum Philip Flickinger ‘01, who is a professor at University of California in Sacramento.
Flickinger was working as a guest artist at Gustavus in the fall of 2012, but Kelsey was unable to participate in his choreography that year as she studied abroad in Italy that spring. Kelsey and Flickinger got in contact this past January Interim to put together a solo, which Kelsey performed in Sacramento the week following Spring Break. Kelsey has been invited to return to Sacramento after graduation to work with Flickinger and his dance company Dancers Investigation Group (D.I.G.).
“It’s a really beautiful solo. It challenges Kelsey but it also shows her off to move the way she can move,” Professor in Theatre and Dance Michele Rusinko said.
Rusinko has worked closely with Kelsey this year. During Kelsey’s first year at GAC, Rusinko was on sabbatical but did know that Kelsey was at Gustavus and among its promising dancers. According to Rusinko, Kelsey has found her voice at Gustavus in the Dance department and has taken ownership of her education.
“It’s very collaborative working with Kelsey. I trust her instincts as a mover and I can work with her as a co-creator,” Rusinko said.
After graduating, Kelsey will spend the summer dancing in the Minneapolis area. She will be doing a Fringe Show and taking dance workshops. In the fall, she will return to Sacramento to work with Flickinger and D.I.G.
“I have absolutely no doubt that she will have a career in dance for as long as she chooses to have that. It is a really hard way to make a living. I think Kelsey will have a wonderful career in dance, though. I think she has a real spark as a performer. She knows how to do this,” Rusinko said.
Kelsey also enjoyed learning more about dance and what she wanted to do through a more conservative style in her time studying in Italy. The experience made her much more appreciative of what she is doing, which is also why she made the piece she did for the Spring Dance Concert.
“I just felt like I wanted to share what I learned with a group of wonderful young women,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey is very busy with school and dance, but also feels prepared for the future.
“I think Gustavus has been a home to me. But at the same time, it’s helped me build a lot of confidence and independence to be able to go off and find a new one, wherever I go,” Kelsey said.