"I feel much more aware of who I am because of the U of I."
Pittsburgh native Katherine Roarty was drawn to Illinois because the Department of Dance gave her a true student experience.
"The U of I was exactly what I needed to prepare me for my current life," Katherine says. "Being from Pittsburgh and moving to a school where I knew no one molded me to be able to adapt and still enjoy wherever I go."
Since moving to New York City in 2011, Katherine has performed in Rock of Ages on the Norwegian Cruise Lines ship Breakaway, was in the original cast of Queen of the Night, and has served as the dance captain for the national tour of Flashdance: The Musical. She also has appeared in several commercials, and currently she is a guest teacher at the Broadway Dance Center.
Katherine credits Professor Sara Hook with reshaping her outlook on life as a dance professional.
"I was a straight A student in high school, and at the U of I I wasn't getting the pieces I wanted," Katherine notes. But Sara cautioned her: "This is not all you're going to be. Not getting into this piece does not determine how successful you will be as a dancer." According to Katherine, "That conversation changed everything."
Katherine advises students to take advantage of their time in school, insisting that the future—with success, growth, and new possibilities—"will happen."
"You have the time and resources to create things with a sense of freedom because you have four years to really develop." She has one recommendation for current students: "Sink your feet in and soak up all that time without feeling regret or worry."