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Morgan Hastings on Dance, Its Importance in Her Life and Changing Stereotypes Against Dancers

Hastings will perform at the Department of Dance, School of Music and Department of Theatre and Media Arts Convocation at 3 p.m. on April 26 At the start of her academic career at BYU, Morgan Hastings thought she’d major in psychology, despite her lifelong experience with dance. “I was really frustrated because I felt that there was a stigma with other students thinking all dancers are stupid,” Hastings said. “I thought I’d major in something else.” That plan didn’t last long. “I came to this realization, ‘why am I doing something else when I love ballet?’ I've always wanted to dance professionally,” Hastings said. Now that she’s on the brink of graduating, Hastings is closer to that dream than she’s ever been. “I've been auditioning and sending audition videos out to companies,” she said. Hastings has also expressed interest in going to graduate school, either to study dance or dance movement therapy. “It kind of depends on where my life goes and what happens on the way,” she said. Wherever her life takes her, though, dance will be a part of it. Not only has Hastings taken dance classes from a young age, she has also participated in intensives and has studied abroad with established dance institutions. “After my senior year of high school, I was just really focusing on ballet,” Hastings explained. “I did some summer intensives after that senior year. One of them was with the Bolshoi Academy.” The Bolshoi Academy, based out of Moscow, Russia, is a moving force in the ballet world and has produced some of this generation’s greatest stars in the industry. Hastings was excited to be asked to continue studying with them after the intensive in New York ended. “I was shocked at the invitation and didn’t really think it was a possibility,” Hastings said. “I kind of thought it was this dream. But, with lots of support, I ended up going and I lived there for a year studying ballet.” After returning to the United States and spending some time studying at Utah Valley University, Hastings began studying at BYU. Among her most memorable experiences at BYU was on last year’s Theater Dance tour in New Mexico. “Our tour bus broke down several times,” Hastings said. “For a couple of the performances, we were ten minutes late and had three minutes to get our costumes on, get our pointe shoes on, get everything ready and go on stage and perform. Even though we felt like a mess, the people that were at the performances were so appreciative of us being able to share our talents.” In the hopes of combating the stereotype that dance students aren’t as academically challenged or capable, Hastings has diligently sought to maintain her GPA. She’s proud to have maintained a 3.9 or higher during her academic career at BYU. Hastings is currently auditioning for dance companies — including the London Ballet Company — and is looking forward to the future, including moving to the United Kingdom after marrying her fiancé.

Q&A with Morgan Hastings, BA '19 Dance | Dance

What did you want to be when you grew up? “When I was younger, I was actually super interested in the medical field. I’m the youngest of six kids and I have three sisters, including one who is a nurse and one who is a dancer. I love the human body and it fascinates me, but as time passed I just knew that dance was the route. Right now, I’m in kinesiology, which explores the muscles of the joints and so I still get to study and understand the body better, which is cool. So, I still have been able to achieve part of that childhood dream. I still get to study and understand the body better.” What is the hardest thing you had to overcome? “I have depression. I hated high school because we were trying to find medication that would work. The first couple that we tried kind of backfired and went in the opposite direction. It just made things worse. We tried more, and I just got to a point where I felt numb and felt no emotion. That was really, really challenging. It’s interesting, we finally found a medication that works, and I was in a good place and stable. When I went to Russia, it was hard. I was surrounded by so many girls with various mental disorders and eating disorders but I’ve seen how the gospel and a knowledge of the plan of salvation has really affected my ability to stay afloat and pull out of that. As I’ve — through dance — come to understand myself better and understand how I react to things and I’ve been able to cope better. Dance has helped me with that, which is really cool. In a lot of circumstances, it can take people down the opposite path because of the body image. There are just so many things that make people think so negatively about themselves and that can encourage depression rather than discourage it. It’s been interesting to see how it’s kind of had the opposite effect on me. It’s helped me and given me confidence.” Favorite snack for between classes? “I love nuts. Cashews, almonds, peanuts. Anyone in the dance department or anyone in my apartment complex, if they know me, they know I always have a bag of trail mix or a bag of mixed nuts in my hand to snack on.”