Doty Society Student Stories 2011-2012

Kelsey Rondeau

At age 13, and with dreams of becoming a Broadway star, Kelsey Rondeau took his first dance class in California. Over the course of that first year, he fell in love with the art form. Now he’s a junior dance major at UT.

“It wasn’t until I came to UT, though, that I knew that [dance] is what I want to do with my life,” he said. “I came in as an acting focus my first semester, and I found that I wasn’t really growing as an artist and I wasn’t satisfied without dance.”

Kelsey RondeauKelsey Rondeau

Like many dancers, Kelsey feels life is not complete unless he is dancing. He says a day without dancing is wasted for him, which explains why this summer Kelsey is excited to be a part of the Young! Tanzsommer, a 10-day performance tour of Austria. Immediately after the tour ends, Kelsey is attending a four-week training session at the Salzburg International Ballet Academy.

“What I’m looking forward to most for Young! Tanzsommer is the chance to be a touring dancer. To see what it’s like to have to get up early, pack up, get on a bus to the next destination, unpack, prepare and do a show, then do it all again the next day,” Kelsey said. “Additionally, the fact that I get to go abroad for the first time in my life is a major plus.”
 

Amanda Gladu

Amanda GladuAmanda Gladu

Senior dance and art history double major Amanda Gladu dreamed of becoming a ballerina as a toddler, and after a short time studying liberal arts at UT, she realized she wasn’t in the right place.

“The first month into school, I knew that I wanted to go into art history, but it wasn’t until a few months later that I missed dancing so much that I looked into adding a second major in dance,” Amanda said.

Instantly, Amanda knew transferring to the College of Fine Arts was the best choice for her. She’s had the opportunity to work in the Dance Repertory Theatre, develop lasting relationships with her professors, and travel to Florence, Italy with the department’s Theatre in Italy study abroad program.

For the last two semesters, Amanda has been rehearsing for Catalyst with the Dance Repertory Theatre. After its debut last month, Amanda is now preparing for graduation and travel to Central and South America to continue to learn about the role art plays in the world.

“I feel like the dance world [in Latin America] is so naturally present, and the people basically seep that passion they have for their visual culture through their pores. That is the kind of society that I want to travel to and be a part of,” Amanda said.
 

Kimberli Gant

Doctoral candidate, Kimberli Gant has a life-long interest in history. During her undergraduate studies, she realized she could combine her interest in history with her love of art and took an art history course. Immediately, Kim was enthralled.

Now at age 30, Kim is researching Contemporary Art throughout the African Diaspora and last summer had the opportunity to spend time with museum curators in London and Brussels examining archives and exhibitions related to landscape art in Africa.

Kimberli GantKimberli Gant

“It’s truly a humbling experience,” Kim said. “It also gave me ideas for other projects I might want to do in the future. In Brussels at the Royal Museum of Central Africa, I reviewed the photographic archive of a Belgian mining company in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and I think the images would make an amazing book project on relationships and interactions between the Congolese populations and the Belgians.”

Kim hopes to continue working in museums and ideally find a position at an institution with a strong collection in African art. She believes that the arts are essential because, in addition to being used as creative expression, they are sources of information, too.

“To see is to discover and art is another way to see,” she said. “Now not everyone sees and experiences the world in the same way and that is fine, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valid in some way.”

Patrick Stauffer

Patrick StaufferPatrick Stauffer

Like many instrumentalists in Texas, trombone performance master’s student Patrick Stauffer began playing the trombone as a sixth grader in Little Elm, TX. However, his passion for music began years before.

“I first started playing piano at the age of 5 and took lessons for about six years,” Patrick said. “I never got too good at piano, but I’d say that is where my interest in music started, as well as singing in my church choir growing up.”

Years later, after receiving a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Baylor, he finds himself thrilled to be playing amongst the world-class talent at The University of Texas at Austin where he has performed with the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, UT Trombone Choir and more.

In addition to performing, Patrick is also incredibly passionate about teaching, and he hopes to inspire people with his music.

“The arts and especially music has opened up a whole new world to me that I never knew existed,” Patrick said. “It is my humble opinion that the arts can enrich people’s lives in a way that nothing else can.”

Alex Amsel

Prior to moving from Argentina to the United States at age 11, junior bassoon performance major, Alex Amsel had very little exposure to the fine arts. Once in school in the U.S., Alex auditioned to play the saxophone. However, the band directors assigned him to the clarinet. After bothering his director about switching to another instrument one time too many, Alex was introduced to the bassoon.

Alex AmselAlex Amsel

“They showed me this thing. I had no idea what it was,” he said. “I was going to be the only one playing it, and that was pretty cool. From the first downbeat, I knew I loved it. It was perfect for me.”

When it was time for Alex to choose a university, he was astonished while reading through the list of faculty at UT.

“I remember growing up in Houston and studying music and thinking how incredible a chance it would be to be able to study with these names of people I had been listening to on CDs and admiring ever since I began my musical career,” he said. “I looked at the list of teachers, and I just couldn’t believe it!”

Upon graduation, Alex hopes to return to Argentina and share the world of classical music with children there.

“In Venezuela, they have the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra,” Alex said. “They take these poor children and turn them into world-class musicians! It would be really amazing to give something like that to Argentina.”

Until them, Alex is looking forward to the year ahead.

“I think this next year is a really promising year with The Joffrey Ballet: Rite of Spring and everything else going on,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing where UT can take me!”

 

Rachel Atkinson

While working on her high school’s talent show, Rachel Atkinson, now a third year lighting design graduate student, realized how simply changing the color of the lights could entirely transform the stage.

This year, Rachel designed the lighting for the new play by Suzan Zeder, TheRachel AtkinsonRachel Atkinson Edge of Peace.

“This is a great opportunity for me to make contacts with theatre professionals who will push me to develop new levels of craft,” she said. “Additionally I hope that this production will help me launch my career as a freelance lighting designer.”

Rachel says that she knows she has grown as a person, thinker and artist during her time at UT, and she hopes that she’ll continue to have new opportunities and experiences.

“Last spring I was able to design the projections for a dance piece, something that previously I had never done before,” she said. “Lighting design and media design are wonderfully complimentary fields, and I expect that my art and my work will be stronger and more interesting as a consequence of deepening my study.”

The cross between performance, storytelling and technology is heavily influencing Rachel’s thesis project, an interactive performance game that will invite the audience to experience the story by participating actively in the scenes using smart phones among other things. This communal, interactive experience mirrors Rachel’s feelings on the significance of art.

“I think the arts are important because they can both challenge us individually and as a society to be stronger and better,” she said.