Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Mary Easter to celebrate career with retirement performance

<ry Easter has worked at Carleton for 40 years and is well-known among students, staff and even alums. Ironically, Easter first came to tutor students in French, but then slowly started to take dance lessons, “half time, two-third time, five-sixth time,” she quips. This slow process led to her becoming a full-time faculty member, and a valuable one at that. Easter had studied ballet since her childhood, and during her time at Carleton has explored classical modern dance. Easter describes her style as “eclectic.”

Having spent four whole decades at Carleton, Easter has observed certain trends in dance. She finds it “thoroughly satisfying…that I work with six male and two female choreographers. It’s a big change that these highly athletic men have crossed the hard and fast line between athleticism and dance and now choreograph.” On the same note, she gives an illustration from the culture of hip-hop: “It is primarily men dancing for hip-hop and it is so popular and pervasive that young men feel free to dance, and this art form frees them of inhibition to do so.”

Using dance as a tool of social and political change, Easter believes, “As it is true of all the arts, dance has the power to express what cannot be said in words. It is a repository of cultural attitudes.”
Interestingly, Easter’s style incorporates verbal expression in dance. Tomoka Nakamura ‘09 says, “In the beginning, it was awkward for me to present a monologue while dancing or trying to improvise bodily movements derived from words since I was trained mainly with ballet before college. However, Mary taught me the value of expressing dance not only movement, but also with the dynamic use of words.”

Phil Chan was Carleton’s first male dance major and now works for the Youth America Grand Prix. “Mary has a giving and nurturing spirit,” he said. “While advising me, she let me develop my ideas, and gave me constructive critique to help refine my work as an artist.”

Easter’s retirement performance will have six pieces, which include 3 solos, one piece from Semaphore, one choreographed by Jane Shockley in which alums will dance, and one by Easter herself. After much thought on this retirement performance, Easter decided she would be “happier being on the stage too.”

Easter is sad to leave Carleton – a career she was “heavily invested in,” but knows that it is “time to move on to the next phase.” Her students are in agreement: Chan says, “I really appreciate how much Easter fought for the dance students and the dance department. During my junior year, she helped us raise the funds to attend the American College Dance Festival – the following year, we found ourselves selected to perform at the Kennedy Center as part of the ACDFA Gala! She was one of the best professors I have had at Carleton, and I am so glad to have worked with her. “

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *