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Department Of Dance

Dance Grad Baylee Van Patten on the Curiosity, Joy and Gratitude She Feels While Dancing

Graduating Senior Baylee Van Patten Answers Questions about Her Time at BYU

Photo by Emma Olson, CFAC External Relations

Q: How have you found belonging during your time at BYU?

Van Patten: There have been some wonderful people over my years at BYU who have gone out of their way to make me feel included and special. I have found belonging through receiving acts of service. The service of my peers has inspired me to look outward and be kind to all I meet.

Being a part of BYU performing companies and clubs helped me meet some inspiring friends and get involved. The people I’ve worked closely with have become some of my greatest friends and have helped me feel a sense of community.

Q: How has your BYU education prepared you for the future?

Van Patten: BYU has prepared me for lifelong learning and service. Throughout my education, I have realized that I love to learn. Although my time at BYU is coming to an end, I recognize that my education is not ending. BYU has shown me that I can learn from my peers, and I know that I will continue to learn from everyone I collaborate with. As my professors have helped me find what I’m passionate about, I too want to help others discover themselves. I plan to be an eternal student!

Overall, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunities that the BYU Department of Dance has given me to gain tools for my future career.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

Van Patten: I plan to attend graduate school to receive an MFA in Dance. My husband is applying to medical school this summer so we are trying to line up our schools so we can attend school simultaneously. Wherever we end up, I plan to perform, choreograph and teach dance. Eventually, I would love to teach in a university setting. Right now, I am trying to keep as many doors open as I can because I’m not certain what the future holds in store yet. It’s scary and exciting at the same time!

Q: Which professor inspired you the most and why?

Van Patten: Every faculty member has truly inspired me. I specifically have been inspired by Kate Monson because she believed in me from the beginning. When I was a sophomore, I auditioned to choreograph for dancEnsemble, and she gave me a chance. From there, she saw potential in me that even I didn’t see. She encouraged me to take risks and be curious so I could discover my artistic voice. Over time, my voice has developed, and I am confident in embracing everything that makes me, Baylee. She has been a great mentor for my choreography and performing.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to current students?

Van Patten: I would tell students to not rush their experience at BYU. As a freshman, I remember focusing on what classes I needed to take to graduate “on time.” I ended up taking an extra year more than I planned because of an unexpected knee surgery, and I realized that there were so many other classes that I wanted to take that weren’t within my major. The dance BFA is mainly focused on ballet and contemporary dance, but because I slowed down a bit I was able to try tap, aerial and Latin dance along with other interdisciplinary classes.

Q: What was your most inspiring experience at BYU and why?

Van Patten: I had knee reconstruction surgery during my sophomore year. As I was healing, Keely Song Glenn invited me to be in a duet with Mariah Sainsbury (last year’s dance convocation speaker) who also had knee surgery. I was surprised because I thought dancing, especially performing, was out of the picture for the next year or more. Song helped make dancing and performing accessible to me and Mariah by being sensitive to our physical needs. She created a sense of community built on empathy because she also healed from multiple knee surgeries. This experience inspired me to make dance accessible for those with injuries, older populations, disabilities, etc. I want to help everyone know that they can dance. My healing process inspired me to learn about kinesiology and make dancing safe for dancers.

Q: What was your favorite performance during your time at BYU and why?

Van Patten: There are two performances that tie as favorites for me.

I had the amazing opportunity to perform as a guest with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company for their performance of “GROUNDWORKS” in September 2023. I performed repertoire pieces choreographed by Alwin Nikolais including “Liturgies” and “Tensile Involvement.” It was eye-opening to see how rehearsals work in a professional company and to learn from the company members’ experiences as professionals in the dance field. Alberto Del Saz, who set the choreography on us, explained that we are all carrying on the legacy of Alwin Nikolais. I felt honored to be a part of the process.

My senior capstone choreography was chosen to be performed and adjudicated at the American College Dance Association (ACDA) conference in March 2024. After having a wonderful experience performing Kate Monson’s “The Accusers,” I was able to watch my piece from the audience. It was amazing to see how the dancers brought my choreographic vision to life. They made the piece more powerful than I expected. Both pieces placed in the top 10 pieces from the conference. I felt so happy to be a part of an amazing school like BYU!

Q: What are three adjectives to describe how you feel when you’re dancing?

Van Patten: I feel curious when I dance because I am always looking to make new discoveries about how I can move. Often when I dance, I can understand more about the world I live in.

I feel grateful when I dance because I am reminded that our bodies are sacred gifts from God. I often feel connected to God through the Spirit when I dance. Ever since my knee surgery, when my ability to dance was so limited, I feel grateful for any chance I get to be in a dance studio and move my body freely.

I feel joyful when I dance because it’s so stinking fun. Dancers take their art seriously, but sometimes I think we take it too seriously. I am reminded that the reason I started dancing in the first place is because it makes me happy and is an outlet for me to express myself. I experience an array of emotions when I dance but the main emotion I feel when I dance is joy!