Senior Spotlight: Annie Carlson

Posted on May 21st, 2020 by

The “Senior Spotlight” series honors graduating fine arts majors for their contributions to the Gustavus community.

Annie Carlson is from Savage, Minnesota. She is a dance and communication studies major with a film and media studies minor. After graduation, she plans to start her career and find opportunities for dance in her future. Associate Professor of Dance Melissa Rolnick is one of Annie’s advisors and recalls meeting Annie for the first time. “I still remember Annie from her placement audition and my internal gasp when she leaped across the floor in a combination. She took to the air like a springing panther,” Rolnick says. “She has continued to “wow” everyone with her intense physicality and incredible dancing along with her quiet watchfulness and intellectual candor. I have learned a great deal from my interactions with Annie.” 

We asked Annie to give us a little insight into her time at Gustavus and how she’s continuing to dance while living at home.

What’s a favorite memory you have from your time in dance here?
AC: One of my favorite memories was performing Emma Hunt’s piece Room 31 at the American College Dance Association conference in Madison, Wis. We performed in a large auditorium with a balcony, which I hadn’t done for a while, and were able to hear the audience collectively gasp a few times as we danced. Being greeted by our supportive peers and professors and being approached by others at the conference over the following days was special as well. It was all very invigorating and inspiring.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to high school students considering Gustavus?
AC: You will be encouraged to do a lot of reflecting on your dancing, choreography, experiences, life, passions, preferences, habits, etc., and it will be important to think about these things in a way that allows you to learn more about yourself and be open to change and ultimately growth. Additionally, it is okay to have moments when you question the level of your passion, but recognizing what is causing this and what you can do to reignite the passion is essential as well.

How are you continuing your dance education in your new surroundings?
AC: I have really enjoyed taking online dance classes from various companies/instructors all over the world. I have also been watching many dance videos online, but that is not unusual for me.

What has it been like to dance at home?
AC: I’ve been dancing in my basement which has worked out quite well. When I was in middle school my parents put in a snap-together hardwood floor so that I could practice turns and my brother could practice hockey. I always felt a little guilty for not using it as much as I should’ve, but I am definitely getting my use out of it now. Additionally, I’ve been using a garment rack as a ballet barre. The fact that it rolls has definitely tested my balance and has made it clear when I tend to rely on the barre for support.

What professor has made the biggest impact on you and why?
AC: I have been positively impacted by all of my dance professors at Gustavus, but I think Melissa Rolnick has made the biggest impact on me. I have taken four classes from Melissa, she is one of my advisors, and she cast me in my first spring dance concert piece. Melissa has helped me think critically about dance and reflect on what I am consuming, doing, and creating. We have had some diverging preferences regarding dance, however, we have welcomed each other’s ideas in a way that ultimately led to furthering education and understanding. I also appreciate how articulate and deliberate she is in conversation and in class.


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