"The U of I is an amazing place that will be extremely challenging, but it will train you so that you can function in a very intelligent and proactive way."
Dance alumnus Aaron White grew up in Chicago, in a single-parent family with 10 siblings. He had no plans to attend college, but his dance teachers Deidre Dawson (an Illinois physical education alumna) and Pierre Lockett encouraged him. After auditioning and receiving a scholarship, Aaron admits he "would've been a fool not to go."
Aaron attributes his professional success to the skills he cultivated as a student with the Department of Dance.
"I became a smart artist—an artist who can explain what my ideas are to people who don't understand dance vernacular," Aaron says. "And I am confident in my teaching ability. I think I am a great teacher, and I attribute that to Department Head Jan Erkert."
Aaron's U of I experience affected his approach to graduate education at Tisch School of the Arts in New York City.
"At Illinois, it was all about how you could work effectively and efficiently and then still be able to dance when you turned 60," Aaron notes. "At Tisch, I was able to maximize my education by molding the program to address my needs. And I could do that because I had learned how to create who I wanted to be at Illinois."
Aaron teaches dance at New York's P.S. 40 and is the only dance faculty member at the Atlantic Acting School. He also performs with the Seán Curran Company and is a Reiki master.