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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Diploma to demi plié, dancer follows passion

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Carls use their interests on campus in a variety to ways. One early graduate, however, has expressed her love of dance a unique way: Caitlin Throne ’15, or “Miss Caitlin” to her students at the Northfield Dance Academy, graduated last term and while still on campus has thrown herself fully into the Carleton and Northfield dance communities.

Throne has been dancing since before she can remember and gradually got more involved with the sport. By the time she was 13, she was a part of an intensive modern ensemble and dancing five to six days a week in the company.

As she finished high school still with that company, Throne said, “I realized that I wasn’t dancing because I really liked it anymore, I was dancing because I was so far into the group that there wasn’t any other option and I didn’t want to let them or myself down after so many years.” Carleton came to be the breaking point where she could stop without disappointing anyone.

“I needed a year to think about whether dance was something that I wanted to do, and coming out of that year I decided that I did, but more on my own terms and only as long as it made me happy.” Her second year here, Throne began to dance with Ebony II and, in the Winter, started taking classes again, joining Modern II taught by instructor Daphne McCoy.

The two of them bonded over both having lived in Maine prior to coming to Carleton and hit it off from there. Last Spring, McCoy was looking for dance teachers for her studio, Northfield Dance Academy, and approached Throne thinking that she would be really good with kids.

When she heard the idea, Throne was excited. Teaching dance was “always something that I’d wanted to do, but I could never imagine myself making a career out of it. So when Daphne approached me I realized that this was the perfect way to do this and not have it be my whole entire life.”

This year, Throne has been involved with Ebony, is currently in four Experimental Dance Board pieces, takes Modern II with McCoy, and teaches three classes of preschoolers at the studio. She did most of these things while taking classes Fall and Winter terms, and so now “the great part about it is that I have the time to really enjoy it like I should without worrying about other work I have to do.”

Dance at Carleton remains an important and sizable part of her life, but teaching the young kids in town gets Throne especially excited. “It’s kind of a big job because young kids are so impressionable, and I remember the things that my dance teachers did 15 years ago that had a lasting effect on me. It’s also different realizing that parents are actually paying money for you to teach their kids.”

The kids often realize that Miss Caitlin is not as old as the other adults—sometimes, she calculated, she is closer to her students ages than to the other teachers’—and that can make disciplining more difficult. “But the age thing also lets them let their guard down a bit because they realize that I’m not the boss, and they let themselves try new things.”

She encourages them to try new things and to work hard to improve in class, which can be a lot for such young kids. “Even things like jumping are really hard when you’re small, and so early on some of them would jump and just fall on the ground. Now they can jump and land successfully.” More generally, Throne notes that “it’s fun because they’re at an age where I can actually see them changing a lot and growing into little people.”

The words and actions of her own teachers have influenced how she approaches teaching. One activity she does with stretching is called “flapping the butterflies,” during which each student gets to choose a place for the whole class to fly to during thigh stretches. “It’s actually something that my dance teacher from when I was really little used to do with us and I loved it, so when I found out I’d be teaching such little kids, I thought I needed to bring it back.”

Unfortunately, not all of her memories from her years of dance experience were this pleasant. She strives to create a wholly positive experience for her kids, so doesn’t make comments on their beauty or prettiness. Instead, she says, “look how strong you are,” or “how awesome it is when you move your arms that way.”

“I try to make it about the movement and to make it an empowering experience for them, even though they probably don’t realize that they’re being empowered.”

Overall, the difficult work of teaching the kids, controlling them in class, and even choreographing the pieces for their upcoming recital is worth it for Throne. “It’s so much fun watching them start to love something that I love so much.”

Her positive influence helps the kids to grow into dancers, and working with them helps her, too. “It’s helped me feel more free about my dancing, and thinking about how to make it more fun for them has made it even more fun for me.” Throne is sometimes dancing for 20 hours a week, so this enjoyment is essential.

Next year, Throne will be working in Cleveland at an economic consulting firm doing macro-level market trend analysis, and though she doesn’t yet know how dance will fit into her life there, she has begun to look into studios. For now, she will continue to embrace and enrich dance at Carleton and help to bring her enjoyment to new dancers in Northfield.

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