There’s a beautiful face and form that will become very familiar to our audiences this year. It is Contemporary Dance senior Julianne Rice, who will grace the cover of our 2018-19 Season Brochure, as well as magnets, posters, ads and banners through the coming year.
When asked to describe what it feels like to dance, she replies, “Dancer Anna Halprin has always said that ‘Dance is the breath made visible’. When Anna speaks of breath, she is talking about life.” And when Rice takes the stage, we feel it too.
“Starting at such young ages, humans are eager to explore what their bodies can do. Babies will crawl and toddlers will waddle all over the place. Children skip and climb and explore. As humans, we have this natural tendency to feed into our physicality for satisfaction. Think about the first time you ever road a bicycle and how liberated you felt once all of your hard work had been accomplished. That is what dancing is to me. It is my humanness making discoveries in its physicality and indulging in the exploration.”
– Julianne Rice
Rice says she started dancing at the age of three, right after her sister Gina was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and her doctor recommended dance as a form of physical therapy. “It wasn’t long after when my mom signed the two of us up for ballet at the local studio. I always thought Gina was a great dancer, especially as my older sister she was someone I would look up to as a role model.”
Rice remembers watching dance classes from the doorway and imitating the moves her older sister was learning. “I had always wanted to be as good as she was.” Gina eventually stopped dancing and Rice realized it was at that point, when her sister wasn’t at the studio anymore, that she was no longer trying to out-dance anyone. “I reached a certain point where I surpassed her level and became a dancer of my own, making what I wanted out of the art form. It became cathartic and I was dancing for myself.”
Who inspires her?
“Liz Lerman has a powerful outlook that ‘art is a birthright’. She takes this belief and puts it to good use with community engagement and reaching out to nondancers while performing in spaces other than the typical concert stage.”
Wendy Peron wrote in a 2017 article for Dance Magazine, “One of Lerman’s persistent questions is, Who gets to dance? She founded Liz Lerman’s Dance Exchange in 1976 to explore this and other questions…She has activated a wide range of populations toward movement, including senior citizens, ship builders, construction workers, clergy members and classical musicians. For each project she engages different communities with a different purpose.”
Rice believes this perspective can change the way anyone looks at dancing. “It is a mode of communication. Liz Lerman would dance as a little girl just because she enjoyed being. I can relate this to my childhood, finding kids on my block and choreographing a dance to the latest pop song. Something similar happens with the young girls I babysit. Dancing is part of our nature.”
Does she have any advice for students joining the Department this year? Absolutely.
“Moving to such a huge university can be rather intimidating. I had a struggle adapting my freshman year but it was my dance family that got me through it. Each day you will be surrounded by such supportive and beautiful people, there is nothing to worry about. Explore the town and spend time with your classmates because those are the people that make Bloomington feel like home.”