Although dance has been a large part of her life since the age of 3, Aubry Dalley found herself faced with a big life decision when she got to college. Should she pick dance for a major or go for something seemingly more practical?
She wanted to continue dancing but she was told that she should choose a “smart major” that would “pay well.” She was leery of pursuing a profession in the arts that often makes little money and requires big sacrifices. Dalley also struggled to see how being a dancer would help her contribute to society in a meaningful way.
“It wasn’t until after a lot of thought, prayer and later mentoring from teachers here at BYU that I finally realized the unique power and impact of artists and also that I was 100 percent willing to make the sacrifices needed to pursue my passion,” Dalley said.
A World of Opportunities: Dancing at BYU
Once Dalley did decide to pursue dance at BYU, she began to really appreciate the unique way that the dance programs at BYU allowed her to focus on uniting the soul, mind and body in artistic expression. This mixture, she said, enriched the experiences BYU offered her.
Taking advantage of as many of those experiences as possible became a big priority for Dalley. She served in many student capacities, performed on world-class stages, presented choreography at nationally recognized events, collaborated with international artists and more.
“Our world is in desperate need of wholesome and artistic dance on a global scale, and it has been enlightening to see the diversity of what others outside of our faith are doing to fill that need,” she said.
Dalley had the opportunity to travel to Montana, Colorado and China with the Contemporary Dance Theatre and went to Arizona for a research project. That travel gave her many opportunities to see the diversity and variety of dance all over the world.
“It is life changing to interact with other artists and developing artists, like me, from around the country and world,” she said.
During some of the trips interacting with other artists didn’t always come easy, but it was worth it. When she was in Beijing although Dalley could not speak the language she still made friends and learned from their abilities as dancers.
“There is so much wonderful and inspiring art happening everywhere,” she said. “I can’t wait to be a part of making that happen when I graduate.”
Dream Job: Going Back to High School
Dalley chose to major in dance education because she felt it offered a more complete education than studying dance alone. By the end of the five-year program, students are licensed dance teachers as well as experienced performers. She feels that the decision to pursue education opened doors for her that she otherwise would not have pursued.
One of those doors was a full-year internship to teach dance in public schools. She had the opportunity to teach at her own high school, Mountain View High in Orem, Utah. Instead of student teaching, where dance education students are paired up with teachers throughout the state, Dalley solo taught her own classes at the school.
“Going back to my old high school has been my dream job,” Dalley said. “It was a perfect way to start my teaching career because I felt like I was going home as I took on this daunting new task, rather than being in a totally unfamiliar situation.”
Despite the learning curve any new teacher faces, Dalley felt she was prepared for the classroom.
“I felt that I had been given all the right tools to succeed; I just had to learn how to apply them,” Dalley said.
Looking Back… And Forward
As Dalley approaches graduation she has come to consider her friends and mentors in the dance department as part of her family.
“That time and sacrifice you put in together builds amazing friendships and fun memories,” she said. “I know I could go to any of them with a favor to get feedback on my choreography or teaching or get advice on my professional pursuits and they would drop everything to help me.”
Now, Dalley is confident teaching dance will help her fulfill her need to contribute to society in a meaningful way.
“As a teacher I can still create and perform great art, but I can also be instrumental in training other dancers to see dance the same way,” she said.
Dalley hopes to continue teaching dance in public schools and pursue her love for choreography, possibly choreographing professionally one day.
“Dance requires a lot of self-direction to find and create your own opportunities,” she said. “It is a challenge I am excited to take.”
Dalley graduates magna cum laude from the Dance Department and will speak this Friday at the College of Fine Arts and Communications convocation.