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Dance Grad Ana Brooks on Finding Belonging Through Our Differences

Ana Brooks will graduate in June 2022 with a BFA in dance

Ana Brooks will graduate in April 2022 with a BA in dance

Ana Brooks

Why do you create/participate in dance?

I dance because it feels necessary. When I’m dancing or choreographing, I feel totally present. There are those times in class or on stage when you aren’t worrying about anything else, you’re just existing exactly in the moment. Just being. All you can feel is the movement and a connection to your fellow dancers and the audience. It’s exhilarating.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by all the people and art in my life. In my dance classes here at BYU, I feel honored to be influenced by my fellow students. I get to witness resilience, grit and artistry in the students in my technique classes. I think I’ve learned as much from my classmates as I have from my professors. I leave every class with new ideas of ways to improve or things to create. Everyone has a fascinating story to tell through their dance.

How have you found belonging during your time at BYU?

It sounds counterintuitive, but I’ve found my place here at BYU by seeing how different everyone is. I have always worried that I take up too much space or that I’m too odd to be accepted. Growing up, I struggled with being social. But in my circles at BYU, I could look around and see that everyone struggled to feel like they belonged in one way or another. But we were all trying. And once you can understand another’s struggle, it’s hard not to accept them for who they are. To me, that feeling of belonging comes from deeply listening to people and building that empathy.

What’s your go-to study snack?

The sour gummy worms in the vending machines. I’m a sucker for the worms.

What was your favorite  project you worked on as a student?

Theatre Ballet gets répétiteurs to come to campus to set historical works on the company. Cameron Basden from the Arpino Foundation came this last year to set a ballet called “Confetti” on us. She was lovely to work with. The piece was a dream—so high energy and exciting to watch, there was never a dull moment. We’d all run off the stage exhausted but elated.

Who is your favorite artist and why?

My current favorite choreographer is Crystal Pite. I like how clear her work is; she knows what she wants to say and she says it. Nothing is ever done halfway. She commits to the idea onstage. Every detail is thought out to create these poignant moments for the audience. I’m trying to build that kind of decisiveness when I choreograph.

What are your aspirations/goals for the future?

Right now I’m auditioning for ballet companies. I want to dance and perform full-time while my body still can. Once I’m done performing, I’m going to either switch into choreographing for companies and schools, or I’ll go to grad school for either genetic counseling or something else. Or who knows? Maybe one day I’ll have a ballet company of my own. Whatever I do, I will always be involved in the arts, and I will always be creating.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.