Early Dancers

Early Dancers

Sally Radell ’79 fell in love with dance at age six when she first saw ballet on TV. Now, director of the dance program at Emory University, she has brought a struggling department with only four courses to a thriving one with a major facility, five fulltime professors, and 36 courses that have more than 800 enrollments each year. She credits the skills she learned in the humanities at Scripps. “I had to read, analyze, think clearly, and articulate clearly, and be a team player,” she says.

She remembers that the Scripps Dance Program (with Linda Levy, Judy Scalin, Gary Bates, and Sharon Took) provided “wonderful, individualized attention” to the students, much as it does today. “There were times when [the program] was unstable,” she admits, but that didn’t deter her from pursuing choreography and eventually teaching. “I throw myself into what’s there,” she says.

There was no dance major available when Nancy Lilly ’70 was at Scripps, but she took every available class anyway. “We were held to high expectations technically,” she says. She recalls three others in the class of 1970 who were also stalwarts: Lee Cook-Cass, Deidre Carrigan, and Janice Murota. “The studio was adequate for our needs, “she says, “although performance space was limited—these were the days when performing on lawns and other found spaces was de rigueur.”

Lilly danced professionally for a few years in the Bay Area after college until, she says, “my husband dragged me off on other adventures.” She still considers herself a dancer, taking classes once a week and doing occasional community performances.

Priscilla Brewster ’78 studied dance every semester at Scripps. “I remember being in three dance pieces,” she says, one by Madeline Blau ’80. “It was set in the Egyptian exhibit room of a museum (the King Tut exhibit was traveling the nation at this time) and the dancers were statues that came to life.” She got to dance the “Tut” character.

Brewster studied dance during a visiting year at Skidmore College at the Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey studios in New York City. While at Scripps, she drove to Los Angeles once a week with Julee Mon Floyd ’81 to take jazz dance with Joe Tremaine.

After Scripps, she continued to study dance, mostly jazz, but her focus turned to acting, and she had a successful career doing TV commercials.

“Dance has benefitted me in so many ways,” she says.

“Besides the physical benefits of balance, agility, and flexibility, there is the confidence that comes with performing. The joy of physical movement is a wonderful stress reliever.”

Ann Carollo ’80, a dual major in music (voice) and dance, has been involved with the performing arts since she was five. She considered other schools where the theatre and dance departments had well-known programs, but chose Scripps because of its stellar liberal arts education. “I saw an opportunity to broaden my performing arts experience and knowledge while I also explored new horizons.”

After graduating, Carollo explored the performing arts professionally for a few years, including dancing in musicals, reviews, and showcases in Los Angeles and Seattle. During that time, Carollo also learned about the business side of the performing arts, which led her to fundraising. “Fundraising is acareer launched by my passion for the arts but made possible by my Scripps education,” she says.

Carollo is now senior director of development at the University of California San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Dance, music, and theater influence how I experience things every day,” she says. “I choreograph programs and compose proposals with a sense of form and pace that I attribute to my training. I direct groups of people, both employees and volunteers. I do this with a sense of contentment, which might not be the case had I not fully explored all that intrigues me.”

Julie Cornell ’78, dance minor, sums up the experience of many: “The dance department went through a lot of transition while I was at Scripps. The Richardson Studio was old and a bit run down…always too hot or too cold. Despite this, we had some beautiful dancers, blessed with dancers’ bodies and commitment, who went on to successful careers. I sincerely hope that the new dance studio gets built. The dancers and the faculty have deserved it for a long time.”


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