Like many high school students, Libby Dye wasn't sure exactly
where her future was headed. Uncertain about a career choice, Libby
began the strenuous investigation of colleges and universities. It
wasn't until her college quest began that Libby, a dancer since
kindergarten, began to consider professional dancing as an option.
That's when she found Butler.
"I actually learned about Butler from some girls who were at a
summer dance program with me and were also looking at dance
schools," Libby says. Libby visited Butler's Web site, liked what
she saw and came all the way from her hometown, Mission Viejo in
Orange County, Calif., to audition.
"I didn't see the school until I came for my audition," Libby
says, "but everyone made me feel really comfortable. I was nervous
about my auditions at other schools, but I wasn't nervous here; I
just kind of felt at home." She is amazed by the professional
training and the performance facilities that are available, and she
enjoys all the performance opportunities and guest teachers that
Another opportunity Butler afforded to Libby was a two-month
summer trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, with members of the Butler
Ballet. Libby and her fellow Butler dance students immersed
themselves in Russian culture, and even had the opportunity to be
taught by Russian dance instructors. Libby says it was hard to
adjust to the differences in culture, but says she was very
impressed with the attitudes towards dance. "They're a lot more
specific with what they want, and here you have more freedom to
develop your own artistry and style," Libby says, "but professional
ballet dancers there are like sports stars there, which is really
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As Kurt Gorrell says, "Dancing is a great way to stay young,"
and he should know. Kurt, who is 30 years old, is the oldest
student in Butler's Dance department.
Kurt grew up as a gymnast, and his teachers often used ballet
bars to help teach proper technique. Those and other dance-related
tools really piqued his interest, especially after an injury that
no longer permitted him to participate in gymnastics.
Kurt began dancing at the age of 21 while attending a community
college in Maryland, his home state. Thinking it would be a great
place to meet women, he took a dance class and fell in love. The
object of his affection, however, was dance.
Wanting to pursue dance as a career, Kurt auditioned for
Butler's program but was not accepted because of his lack of
experience and training. So he packed up his bags and headed to New
York to study the art a bit more. He then went to the Delta
Festival Ballet in New Orleans before deciding to audition for the
Butler program once again. This time, his perseverance paid off,
and he was accepted.
"There were just so many good things I had heard about Butler,"
Kurt says. One of those "things" came from a friend who auditioned
with John Meehan, artistic director of the ABT Studio Company. "My
friend asked Meehan where she should go to school if she wanted to
dance for a good company someday. He told her the place to gain the
best experience was Butler University."
Kurt couldn't agree more. He enjoys the new studio space, the
department's personal trainer and a great performance venue. "I
love that Clowes Hall is right here on campus because it gives us
so many other opportunities we wouldn't have anywhere else."
In fact, when professional companies come to Indianapolis to
perform at Clowes Hall, they often put on a master class for the
Butler students. Kurt says those and other opportunities have made
him a more confident performer. "The Butler program really prepares
us for what's out there."
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For some, spending 30 hours per week on a single activity might
seem exhausting, but for Kateryna Sellers, a senior dance student
in the Jordan College of the Arts, dancing five hours each day, six
days a week is the norm. A Toronto native, Kateryna began dancing
at the early age of 3 because she couldn't sit still and her mother
didn't know what to do with her. And though she may not have known
it at the time, ballet slippers and tutus would become her
After spending almost her entire childhood and adolescence
dancing, and with the support of her parents, Kateryna decided to
pursue dancing as a career option. "After high school, I knew I
needed some more dance training before I could get into a company,
and I thought it would be a really great idea to get a degree at
the same time," she says. Kateryna heard about Butler's reputation
through people she met through dancing, and she decided to
Kateryna auditioned at several schools, but Butler stood out
from the rest. "Butler was really on top of things and constantly
sending me information to make sure I was well informed," she says.
She described the audition process as "intense," but says the
friendly faculty and students made the experience a pleasurable
one. That was three years ago, and Kateryna says her Butler
experience has been great ever since, in large part due to the
superior training she has received.
"The ballet training especially, and now the modern is catching
up, is far superior to most anything you'll find out there,"
Kateryna says. "I've also noticed from other people I have met that
go to different dance programs that Butler provides all its dancers
with the opportunity to perform. A lot of schools will hold
auditions and only a certain number of dancers will get to be in a
performance, but Butler uses all of its dancers, which I think is a
really great thing."
Kateryna says she will spend next semester attending auditions
for various dance companies in hopes of starting her professional
dancing career after graduation. Her time at Butler has helped her
prepare for that moment.
"Butler's like anything else, you get out it as much as you put
into it," Kateryna says. "There are people here who can offer you
incredible training, but if you don't work for it, it's not going
to happen. So, if you take advantage of it, Butler can be a really
great springboard into the professional world."
Kateryna is currently a corps de ballet member of the
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Jean Paul, Jr.
By the age of 16, most students who are serious about dance have
been training for years, but Jean Paul, Jr., a senior dance student
from New Jersey, was just discovering his love of movement. Jean
Paul attended a performing arts high school where his original
concentration was voice performance, but after seeing a dance
performance put on at school, he decided dance looked like too much
fun to pass up.
"I was about 16, going on 17, and that's pretty late to start as
a dancer, especially when everyone else has been doing it for 10 to
15 years by that time," Jean Paul says. "We had the opportunity to
dance with the American Ballet Theatre as an inner city outreach
program after my first year of dancing, and I was really, really
Jean Paul didn't let his lack of experience get him down, and he
returned for a second summer with the American Ballet Theatre.
After graduating high school, he knew he needed more training,
despite the great improvements he made during his first two years
of dancing, so he looked for a college program that would help
prepare him for professional dance. Jean Paul says he knew nothing
of Butler at the time, so he decided to attend another
"After my first year there, I saw how it was going, and it
wasn't the place for me at the time," Jean Paul says. "I needed
more training and it wasn't as intense as I wanted to be." Jean
Paul started researching other programs and came across Butler and
its rich dance history. He auditioned in New York, was accepted and
moved to Indianapolis in August 2002 to begin training.
"From the first week, I saw how the training was, and I knew
this was the place for me," he says. "It was so intense, so hard
and so positive at the same time." Jean Paul says Butler taught him
from "A to Z what dance was."
"I could not see myself anywhere else," Jean Paul says. "It's
just been so positive, so fun and I've had fun learning, which
doesn't come quite often."
Jean Paul says the training at Butler is so intense that without
fun, dancers would burn out. "You approach it as a 'I'm going to
have fun today and learn as much as I can; if I mess up, I mess up;
if I fall it's okay because it's just so positive and everyone
wants you to succeed.'"
Jean Paul was hired as a soloist for the American
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