Justin Kessel '05

Computer Science
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

Upon entering the Theatre/Dance program, and specifically the MF (Movement Fundamentals) curriculum, what were your initial reactions? Upon leaving?

My initial reaction was of anger and confusion. I was just starting dance and I wanted to do just that, dance! I had a very limited view of what dance and movement actually was. I thought that it was just repetition and practice, much like a martial art. You go to class, go through all the moves that the instructor gives, you go to the bar and go through whatever painful thing happens, and then you leave. I thought it was more like a workout instead of learning how the body worked. So, when we weren’t doing ballet or jazz I was frustrated. But then, I started to see the value in everything that was being taught. I realized that I can use the information later in other dance classes and in my current life. It took me a while to get past that initial bad taste, but I ended up leaving with a love for everything that I learned. Movement Fundamentals pretty much changed my life, or at least my outlook on it.

What is your current career/life path?

I am a computer programmer at a small start-up company and I’m an aspiring singer/songwriter.

How does the MF curriculum inform this career/path? How do you use MF in your day-to-day life?

Since I sit in front of a computer all day I haven’t found a use for MF in my day to day work life. I have found that in my outside life I use my knowledge to at least help other people. If they have some sort of lower back pain or other muscle pain I know of some exercises or activity to help them out. I can probably apply the same knowledge to myself while having to sit pretty much motionless all day.

How would you describe the core philosophy of the MF curriculum at Luther?

I believe that the core philosophy of Movement Fundamentals is to give students the foundation and tools to succeed in other dance classes, performances, and life in general. Movement Fundamentals distills the basic aspects of movement and presents them in an easy to understand and logical manner. It truly shows the fundamentals of movement so the name is perfect.

What part of the curriculum was most valuable to you?

Learning all about how movement is first experienced and learned when we are babies was amazing. I felt like I could tap into that whenever I wanted to and ultimately had a compass back “home” for my body. After years of tension one forgets what the natural balance is like, and this one major piece helped clear that up for me.

Is there anything else you want to share?

I was one of the people who resisted the change from technique to MF. It was weird having two camps of thought and I was a fledgling dancer. I went with what I knew and expected. And I have to say that I was completely wrong with that initial assessment and I will sing MF's praises high and low. It did take a while, but I came to love it. And I understand why people may resist it at first because change is scary. But change is the only constant thing in life, so we might as well roll with it. Especially when the change is ultimately better than where you were originally at.