Throughout her time at Gustavus, sophomore Megan Witte has tried to make the most of her college experience by sticking to the passion she loves most: dance. Witte is from Cloquet, Minnesota which is three hours away from campus up north right near Duluth.
She started dancing when she was only a baby at the age of one, and went to the same studio for seventeen years.
“When I was little, my mom took me to the studio and asked the owner if I could start, and you’re not supposed to start until you’re two and a half or three…I guess I danced so often at home that my mom said, ‘Nope, we gotta bring her in,’ so she convinced the owner to let me dance,” Witte said.
During her experience, she took a variety of classes such as ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop. She is fortunate to share her passion by teaching girls of all ages, helping craft their duets and competition pieces.
The qualities she hopes to pass on to her students is the dedication to keep going, and willingness to try during the hardest times because dance can teach many lessons about life.
“It’s really rewarding to see something that you’ve created in front of you, and especially with younger kids, that moment of ‘click’ where they understand movement is really amazing,” Witte said.
One of the challenges she has faced is worrying about perfection since she is not always good at reminding herself that dance is not something that can come easily.
Like many ambitious, goal-driven individuals, she is used to comparing herself to other individuals, but has tried to not do that as she progresses further in her dance career.
While being at Gustavus, she has learned how to grow out of her introverted shell, and realized that her differences are what make her very likeable. She is hoping to pursue a dance with honors major.
The reason why she came was because of the wonderful things she heard about the dance program, along with the kind-hearted people she met while touring the gorgeous campus.
“Basically, what drew me here to campus was the Dance Company. I heard a lot of really good things about it, and last semester, I got into the Apprentice Company first, so this is my first semester actually being a member of the official Dance Company,” Witte said.
While she is heavily involved in this successful fine arts organization, she has also been a performer within the Theatre department.
She recounts that she was in Cabaret during J-term last year which was a joyous, and entertaining time because of the chance to participate in a dance form she was not previously been exposed to.
In addition, she was able to make new friends, and this introduced to her to many individuals who shared her similar interests. It was a fantastic bonding experience which since has fostered deep friendships.
Since she considers herself a modern dancer, Cabaret was a stress-free production where she could dabble with jazz, and to act within ten minutes of the play.
Currently, she is apart of three pieces in “Shared Space,” the winter dance concert taking place this December, and is collaborating with five other dancers to choreograph a piece.
“So far my experience here has taught me to keep an open mind about life. You never know where your experiences are going to take you, so I try to just go with the flow. I’ve found there’s no use in fretting about it,” Witte said.
Because she tends to gravitate towards anything art-related, being part of these programs has taught her to persevere, and to hold her ground when certain goals seem impossible, even if it means failing many times. She has grown accustomed to the idea that there are many different options for the future.
As far as her career goals, she hopes to dance at a highly-reputable studio that involves teaching or choreographing.
“My goal is to audition for Zenon, a professional modern company in the cities, once I graduate. Staying in Minnesota would be nice, but moving is also an option. As scary as it is, I would probably like to try going to New York because it is a big hub for art and dance and music. There’s a bit more opportunity there than there is in Minnesota” Witte said.
She wants to learn more about herself, and other people by taking in as much from everyone and everything. Her college process was not exactly the smoothest, but deciding to come to Gustavus was one of the best decisions she has made in long time.
She appreciates the incredible people, and considers it a special home. When she began her first year, she had to push herself to manage her time better, and take care of herself as an emerging adult.
The change of having so much responsibility all of a sudden was one of the hurdles she had to manage. “Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself first over anything else because mental and physical well-being really in the end is much more important than grades,” Witte said.