Choreographed by Jan Erkert and Juli Hallihan-Campbell for November Dance: Dancing 50: Moving Forward/Looking Back, 2018

Photo by Natalie Fiol


Choreographed by C. Kemal Nance for February Dance 2016

Photo by Natalie Fiol

Aaron R. White

As the eldest of 11 kids, Chicago native Aaron R. White (BFA, Dance, '11) assumed from an early age that higher education was out of reach. Passionate about dance, he sent in college applications but didn't expect to enroll.

Not only was he admitted to the University of Illinois Department of Dance, but he was also awarded a four-year, full-tuition scholarship.

"Being able to attend Illinois, and being exposed to so many types of people, ideas, and a broader cultural understanding, opened up my world in a huge way," he said. "It opened up my life to what is possible."

Katherine Roarty

"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."

Aaron R. White

"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." 


With one-on-one mentoring by acclaimed faculty members and guest artists, Department of Dance students receive rigorous training and opportunities to explore their own creativity as choreographers and performers. Called "a hotbed of choreographic innovation" by the New York Times, the department is one of the most respected in the United States. Undergraduates focus on contemporary modern dance, learn how the body works, and develop professional contacts around the globe.

Diana Shepherd
Class of2017

"The Department of Dance is very welcoming and supportive, which makes it easy to make new friends and to explore who I am as a person and a dancer."

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