Matthew Griffin ’17
Dance-Arts Administration major
Corps De Ballet at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
How did Butler prepare you for your career?
I currently dance in the Corps de Ballet at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. My time at Butler helped me develop the technical skill set and the mindset to be successful in my career as a professional dancer. Butler was not only a place for me to learn and hone my skills, but a safe and supportive environment to take risks, grow, and mature. Butler prepared me to look at the big picture, make lasting relationships, and taught me how to be part of a team.
What skills or knowledge gained at Butler have been most useful in your career?
Butler’s incredible technical ballet training allowed me to gain skills needed to dance at a professional level. The training was also very well rounded. The modern dance, jazz dance, and improvisation skills I learned have been a useful resource for me countless times in my career. I also credit my time at Butler for helping me develop time management skills, the ability to handle multiple projects and tasks at once, and the interpersonal skills required to work in a ballet company.
What is the most important thing you learned at Butler?
The most important thing I learned at Butler is how to be a thinking dancer. Ballet can sometimes have a culture that doesn’t require you to think or create, rather just do or reproduce. The curriculum at Butler is so special because it highlights the interconnectivity of different things that may seem unrelated. I find myself asking why, what does this mean, or what can I add to this. This extra layer of depth has not only helped me to develop my artistry, but it keeps things interesting!
Who influenced you the most while you were a student?
As a student at Butler, I was very inspired by my peers. I loved to watch my classmates work and see the strides they were making, their handwork, and beautiful artistry. I was also very inspired by the close proximity to other disciplines, both in and out of the arts. Seeing a concert, going to a play, or hearing a guest speaker all informed and contributed to the work I wanted to do in the studio.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a career in this field?
My advice to students who are interested in pursuing a career in dance is to actively maintain your skills. In a company setting, you have to take more personal responsibility for your own progress and maintenance than in a school setting. If you find yourself in a situation where you haven’t been accessing a skill, make time on your own to practice it. If you only work on the things you are asked to do in rehearsal, you are sure to let some skills get a little rusty.
Finally, I would say, make sure you connect with the joy of dance every day! This career is very physically and mentally challenging. Even something as simple as warming up to your favorite song or practicing your favorite steps after class can go a very long way.