by Elise Goitia '18
When Ashley Tate came to Knox for a week-long dance residency, she was impressed not only with how hard the Knox dancers worked, but with their fearlessness.
"As a dancer, I try to take advantage of every opportunity that is given to me," said Claire Cody '19, who is a chemistry major with a dance minor. "To have someone as talented, versatile, and experienced as Ashley Tate come all the way to Galesburg for an entire week is such a blessing, so of course I took as much advantage of it as I could."
During the week-long Ashley Tate Residency, Tate, who is the artistic director of the Ashleyliane Dance Company, taught master classes in hip hop, contemporary, and jazz. She also guest-taught courses Contemporary I and III and choreographed a piece for Dance Ensemble to perform in their spring concert.
"I invited her here after several Knox students took class from her at last year's American College Dance Association," said associate professor and Chair of Dance Jennifer Smith. "Like all of our residencies, we look for someone who compliments our program yet brings with them a different perspective in training and experience. We feel like Tate was a good choice in this way."
The week, the dancers said, was a big hit.
"Ashley Tate was a wonderful teacher," Lara Brewner '16 said. "Her style of teaching was energetic, engaging, and especially encouraging to those of us who were unfamiliar with the styles of dance she was teaching."
Brewner, from St. Charles, Illinois, is majoring in philosophy and minoring in dance studies. She took advantage of the courses that are not offered for her minor to learn from a professional dancer and help with her own goals of entering the dance field when she graduates in the spring.
"I was initially scared to go to the hip hop master class because I was expecting to not be able to keep up with the choreography," said Brewner. "Ashley taught in a manner that even a beginner could keep up. I took away the joy of being able to do hip hop without failing miserably and I hope that a little of Ashley Tate's optimism rubs off on me in my future dance endeavors."
Tate said that when she and Claybrook weren't exploring Galesburg during the day, they were working with students. What Tate found most impressive this past week was the how hard the students worked.
"I'm very impressed with the fearlessness of all of the dancers that have come through all week," said Tate. "I see growth in everybody and every class. Usually when I teach there's some push-back when I'm asking people to freestyle or improv, but here I've not had any of that trouble."
"I like to see people rediscover what they had in dance and apply it to a different mindset and a different body," she added. "You need to find it again. Once you're a dancer, you're always a dancer."