Sacred Heart University’s new Dance Program Coordinator, Kelly McGill, began her position in Oct. 2023.
McGill is originally from Upstate New York, but has lived and worked in places like California, New York, and Washington D.C. She initially played collegiate lacrosse in Buffalo, N.Y. before transferring to Shenandoah University to pursue an education in dance, graduating in 2017 with a B.F.A. in dance.
She danced for a company professionally and taught dance classes when she moved to Washington D.C.
“That’s also when I started really learning to teach dance and taught in smaller studios and began teaching all over the D.C. area,” said McGill. “Mostly contemporary and modern and ballet, a little jazz and tap when I needed to. I worked professionally for about three years, but around that time I decided I needed to take my career to the next level and moved to California.”
McGill attended UC Irvine and received her M.F.A. in dance, graduating in 2022.
“After I graduated, I was living in Southern California and was dancing professionally there for a company called Backhouse Dance,” said McGill. “I danced with them for my first year out of grad school and was still teaching all over the place, driving all over Orange County and L.A. and the Huntington Beach area.”
Various reasons, including family, brought McGill back to the east coast.
“I got extremely lucky when this opportunity at Sacred Heart became available right around the same time that I was going to be moving back to the area anyway. I applied and interviewed and I got very lucky with the timing of everything to land at Sacred Heart.”
Transition back to the east coast and to a new work environment was smooth for McGill. She feels as though the SHU dance program held an exciting new opportunity.
“I felt very welcomed right away,” said McGill. “I could tell right away how excited the dancers were about what they were doing which made me want to learn what it was all about.”
McGill emphasized how welcoming not only the SHU dancers and students have been, but also the faculty in the Performing Arts program overall. She feels that with a small dance faculty of only three people, she’s able to experience many different aspects of running the program.
McGill has various responsibilities as dance coordinator that branch out across the program. She coordinates travel, auditions, and teaches her own classes, among other responsibilities.
“This past season was my first time being here for shows but I help with distributing costumes, organizing costumes for performances, and work on the headset during shows for lighting and cues and the technical aspects of the shows,” said McGill. “Half of the time I’m in the studio and choreographing, and the other half I’m in the office trying to pick up anything that needs to be done that Kari and Taylor aren’t able to manage.”
She feels that the many opportunities the SHU dance program offers sets it apart from other programs. Students’ opportunities to choreograph and teach, as well as bringing in outside instructors from New York and Italy create a rare environment.
“We have so many dancers and they’re all so dedicated and you can really tell that they love being in the program,” said McGill. “I think the program is only going to continue to expand and that the caliber of professionalism and skill is just going to continue to rise as well.”