Southeast Missouri State University dance student Kara Burley of Stillwater, Okla., recently interned with L.A. Contemporary Dance Company in Los Angeles.
“It definitely put me out of my comfort zone,” she says. “Hands down, it was the best dancing experience of my life, and I can’t wait to go back again. I worked with many different dancers and choreographers, and it proved to me that dancers come in many different shapes and sizes, and that each one is brilliant in their own way. I definitely made good contacts out in L.A. for after I graduate, and a couple of jobs hopefully will still be waiting for me when I move out there.”
Burley also recently added to her experience by dancing with the Kennett School of Performing Arts and teaching at the Theatre and Dance Academy at Southeast, an educational performing arts experience for kindergarteners through high school students.
“Dancing is what I love doing. It’s my passion, so everything about it excites me,” she says. And, “the Theatre and Dance Academy will definitely help me one day when it comes to owning my own dance studio or company.”
Burley has been dancing for 13 years; before arriving at Southeast, she performed through her hometown studio, Encore! Dance Studios. Through the studio, she participated in Tremaine Dance, New York City Dance Alliance and The PULSE on Tour conventions. She also took master classes taught by Barry YoungBlood, through the Broadway Dance Center, and taught by The Julliard School students, including Billy Bell of “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Since beginning at Southeast, Burley has been a part of every University show. She even choreographed a main-stage production and freshman showcases on campus. She says she has enjoyed every minute of these shows and encourages others to attend so they can enjoy them, too.
“The dance concerts are always fun, and the plays and musicals are always entertaining,” she says.
Also on campus, Burley is the vice president of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts, which celebrates the artistic and academic achievements of exceptional dance students.
“The cool thing about this organization is that as members, we are able to graduate with honors if we fulfill the requirements,” she says.
Burley says her favorite moments at Southeast are any moments she is doing something related to dance.
“My dance courses especially have definitely helped me grow as a person, and, hopefully, I have left a little mark on the years to come,” she says.
While not dancing, Burley relaxes with friends.
“My acting major friends are very entertaining and have quite the imagination,” she says. “It’s easy for me to say I’m never bored! We do like our karaoke night down at Buckner Brewing Co. on Wednesdays.”
Burley says that the connections and friends she has made at Southeast will stay with her throughout her life.
“It’s true what our parents tell us: We will meet our truest and best friends in college who we will stay in contact with after we all graduate,” she says.
After graduation, Burley plans to move to California.
“I would like to work on TV and film with my dancing, and I am a beach girl who loves warm weather, so L.A. is calling my name,” she says.
Burley advises future Southeast students, “Live your life, and do not let anyone control it. Everyone has their place. No one should ever tell you that you can’t do anything, because you can do whatever you want.”