One Northwestern student is taking the opportunity of a lifetime in just a few short months. Junior Emelie Swonger will be studying with Elevate Dance Company in London for almost a year beginning in the fall semester.
Elevate Dance Company is a 10-month program for dancers who wish to gain teaching and performance experience while exploring the integration of faith and dance. It is the daughter company of Springs Dance, an interdenominational Christian dance company located in the heart of London.
“I have always found the integration of faith and dance so incredibly beautiful, but not many dance companies choose to explore this integration,” Swonger said. “Elevate places faith at the very heart of their programming.”
Swonger will be moving to London in mid-September and taking classes for three months in ballet, contemporary and street dance techniques, as well as choreography, improvisation, dance pedagogy, dance science and dance theology.
“Over the last five years, God has made it very clear to me that being a dancer is so much more than an extracurricular activity,” Swonger said. “Being an artist of any kind is a profound calling, a vocation you must pursue with unending passion and trust in the Lord.”
After Christmas break, rehearsals will begin for tour, which is set to take place April through July 2020. Tour locations have not been determined yet, but the students will likely be touring churches and schools around the United Kingdom.
“I believe dance is an especially unique art form because it is incredibly visceral,” Swonger said. “It involves every part of the human person — body, mind, heart and soul. To capture its full essence and beauty, you must allow God’s Spirit to dance in and through you.”
In order to pursue this profound calling, Swonger had to adjust her schedule to make sure she could graduate on time. She came to college with some credits, did an internship for credit over the past summer and will be taking classes this upcoming summer.
“The greatest challenge of this process has been adjusting to the reality of an early graduation and saying goodbye to my NW family,” Swonger said. “I have been focusing more and more on the limited time I have left in this current stage of life, and that has been a tough pill to swallow. But God has been so good to me throughout this process, and I have no doubt that He will be just as present in my grieving as He has been in my rejoicing.”
Swonger has only been out of the country once before, so she does have some fears about being abroad, especially since she will be gone for so long. However, she is glad she is taking advantage of this opportunity.
“I am eager to learn from other professionals in this field, and it is my hope that I will return to the States with countless lessons that I can then share with others,” Swonger said. “I have always dreamed of visiting London, so the fact that I get to live there for a year is pretty spectacular. I still wake up some mornings and wonder if I’m dreaming.”