By: Lindsay Dukes
Movement. It’s the most basic element of life, and one of the first things you’ll notice about Christeen Stridsberg, the newest addition to Wittenberg’s Dance Department.
With a big smile, playful patterned clothes, and no small amount of hand gestures, Stridsberg spoke passionately about dance and the important role it plays in her life. She has been dancing since the age of three, and hasn’t looked back since.
“I’ve been in dance my whole life,” said Stridsberg. “It’s in my family as well. My sister owns a studio, and my mom works there too. It’s been a consistent part of my life since I started doing it.”
With a dance minor from Otterbein College and an MFA from NYU Tisch in dance performance and choreography, Stridsberg is a part of the dance company Columbus Moving Company, and has two other teaching positions at Kenyon College and Otterbein under her belt previous to coming to Wittenberg.
Stridsberg first came to Wittenberg in 2012 to teach master classes, and has since been hired as an adjunct professor as of last semester. Her dancing repertoire covers a wide range of style, and her knowledge of the history of dance and of the human body all combine to make her a skilled professor.
She had a positive experience teaching the master classes, so when the opportunity arose to be hired at Wittenberg, she jumped at the chance.
“I kept in contact with Shih-Ming, the department chair, and she fought for me to get this job. It was ultimately her decision, and I’m very thankful to her. I wouldn’t be here without her.”
While she has some reservations due to the dangers the department faces with the recent budget cuts, Stridsberg is very happy to be teaching here.
“It’s a little scary knowing that it’s a semester by semester basis as far as job security, but I love being a professor, and I think dance is very important for a liberal arts school.”
Stridsberg discussed the different levels of dance, and why keeping it in the curriculums in college is so vital for the future of dance. College is the first level at which dancers can learn the scholarly elements of dance rather than just the performance side of it. Without dance in college, there would be no room for growth and learning.
“Dance is more than just entertainment and being pretty,” said Stridsberg. “That’s important, but it’s about the experience and how it shapes you for life. It’s also about knowing your body and how everything moves.”
College is also Stridsberg’s favorite level at which to teach. She appreciates the open-mindedness of the age group, and the chances and risks they are willing to take to learn. Her passion is evident, and it was clear how much she valued the connections she’s been able to make with students.
“I had heard that the student teacher connection at Wittenberg was like nothing else, and I’ve felt so at home here and really enjoyed the connections with the students. 90 percent of the time it’s the student’s first time away from home, so we become their parental figure. I take it seriously, and it’s exciting and important. Life long bonds are made, and it just rocks my world.”
Being able to have an impact on students’ lives is part of what drives Stridsberg, and she feels that since she has been here she’s already developed into a better professor. Being relatively fresh out of grad school lets her share new ideas and techniques with the students, and it’s something she looks forward to every class.
“To think that I could, in even the smallest way, influence the artist and who they become, is such a thrill to me. I’m so honored, and I take it seriously. It’s so intense but I love it.”
When not teaching, Stridsberg helps choreograph and perform in her dance company. Columbus Moving Company is the resident dance company for the area, and they offer performances and classes for dancers of all experiences while also incorporating various art mediums. Their next show is set for May 3 and 4 in Columbus, which also coincides with the Wittenberg Dance Concert the same weekend, where Stridsberg will be performing and choreographing, so the opportunities to see her passion and skill will be available.