MFA Monday: an inteview with Hannah Jackson

MFA rightLauren Ashlee Small: What would you say has been your greatest achievement or milestone during your first year in your MFA program?


Hannah Jackson: Honestly, the biggest milestone was getting married this summer! But as far as within the program itself,  there were many smaller class assignments that were achievements for me personally because they asked me to do something I was afraid of. But I’m very pleased with a paper I did for the first semester research and writing class about kinesiology for dancers. It required me to grow in both my writing and my research methods.

LAS: What do you hope to learn, gain, or create within your second year of study?


HJ: This semester I’m taking Dance Kinesiology, so I’m really hoping to cement my knowledge of that. I’m also hoping to create a work that I can be proud of for this semester’s choreography class.

LAS: You have had the unique experience of teaching classes at the same university before the MFA program began. What insights have you gathered from being on that side of the learning experience?


HJ: I definitely gained a greater compassion for the professors. You know how it is as a student–the professors’ world seems miles away and their decisions incomprehensible. Having to be on that side, watching how decisions were being made, helped me understand the reasoning behind why our program runs the way it does. It also made me a better student and dancer, especially because my students would watch me in class sometimes. I had to practice what I preached, turnout and all!

LAS: What motivated you to pursue your MFA in Dance, and how would you encourage others considering the option?

HJ: For me, I knew that I wasn’t ready to pursue a job in dance. My undergraduate studies prepared me for a lot, but I still felt I was a jack of all trades and master of none, and that I hadn’t delved deeply enough into anything to pursue it full-time. Obviously I have a long way to go still, but I feel much more confident and better prepared now. Another compelling reason was the faculty at Belhaven; I respect them greatly and wanted to study further with them.

LAS: During your first year of graduate school did you work any other jobs while going to school full-time?  How did that impact your experience?


HJ: I worked online as a blog editor and did a lot of babysitting, but other than that, I didn’t hold down what might be termed a “steady” job. Not having to work full-time the first year definitely helped me adjust, as I found the first semester especially hard and more time-consuming academically. Now I’m working part-time, but that fits in just fine with this semester’s schedule!

Hannah Jackson graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from Belhaven University (2012).  Hannah began her ballet training at Ballet Magnificat! in Jackson, Mississippi. After she moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, she passed Cecchetti grades one through three. She there performed as a member of Colorado Youth Ballet and as Clara in The Nutcracker with the San Diego Ballet. While at Belhaven University, Hannah studied under Betsy McMillan, Stephen Wynne, and Britta Heermann-Wynne, as well as current faculty members Laura Morton-Zebert, Caleb Mitchell, Ravenna Tucker-Wagnon, Cynthia Newland, Erin Rockwell, Krista Bower, and Emily Wright.  Hannah recently had the opportunity to gain her Level 1 certification in Dance Notation. Currently, she is a member of Intersect Dance Collective, a local modern dance ensemble that works to intertwine spiritual truth and humor with dance, and is studying for her Master of Fine Arts in dance at Belhaven University.


Thank you to Lauren Ashlee Small for interviewing Hannah!  We will be back one more week with Lauren Ashlee Small, so stay tuned!


MFA Mondays

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