Living, breathing and sleeping in the dance building has been Sarah Hackwith’s life for the past four years.
The senior ballet and modern dance double major said she planned to move to New York City to pursue her dance career after graduation.
“I have such a diverse range of interests for a career,” Hackwith said. “But I think if I could find a job that somehow managed to incorporate writing about dance, working with social media for dance, and also allowing me to perform and choreograph, I would be very happy.”
The university was not her first choice when she initially searched for schools, Hackwith said. She originally wanted to go to college in New York but was not admitted to any of her top-choice schools.
“I think I was meant to be at TCU,” Hackwith said. “They had a dance audition in April, which is unheard of. So I got on a plane, went on my tour and fell in love with the school. The dance audition was the best I had during the whole process.”
The dance department also exceeded her original expectations, Hackwith said. She did not think she could find a reputable program outside of New York City, but that was not the case. The university’s dance program was incredibly strong, she said.
She has been very involved in the dance department during her four years at the university. She was in the work-study program and was also a member of the dance department honors society Chi Tau Epsilon.
“I am so integrated into the system, it will be weird to leave,” Hackwith said. “They are like my family now.”
Associate professor of ballet Elizabeth Gillaspy said she worked with Hackwith since her freshman year as her teacher and honor society adviser.
Gillaspy said Hackwith would succeed in whichever career path she chose for herself.
“She has the strong points that many artists have,” Gillaspy said. “That is that they are extremely open, passionate, committed individuals who have an extraordinary set of skills and can point those in any direction that they choose.”
In addition to Gillaspy, Hackwith said her main mentors at the university were Susan Douglas Roberts and Nina Martin. She would see them all at least once a day.
Before moving to New York City in September, Hackwith said she would first go home to Boise, Idaho, to save money and earn her personal training certificate.
University alumnae would help Hackwith get plugged into the dance world in New York City, she said. She said she planned to live with a few of them in September.
Outside of the dance department, Hackwith said she admired the community aspect of the university.
“Being in the dance department, you can fall back and get unconnected to people outside the program because you are so busy,” Hackwith said. “But I never felt excluded because the community here is incredible and so spirited.”
The way the university’s classes were structured set her up for a successful future, she said. Her classes challenged her to solve problems and to step out of her comfort zone.
“In the dance department, there is a lot of artistic risk-taking they ask you to take,” Hackwith said. “Whether in a performance or choreographing, they just ask you to step out on a limb because you have a safety net while you are here, and that support is so valuable. When you are out in the ‘real world,’ this experience will help it be less daunting to try something new.”