Eva Levin cub writer
The floor of the dance studio is marked with dents from falls, pirouettes, workouts and the like. One person, though, has made a more metaphorical dent: dance teacher Dana Findley.
Findley is the only dance teacher at Beverly, juggling her beginning and intermediate classes along with the prestigious Dance Company. Discovering her passion for dance at the age of three while growing up in Illinois, she continued dancing through college and also taught a few classes along the way during high school and college. Upon completion of college, Findley applied for her job here and, as they say, the rest is history.
“I actually don’t really have days where I’m not happy to come to work,” she said with a smile. “I feel like I’m really forgiving. I come back the next day, and it’s a do-over.”
Findley is known for her welcoming environment among her students as well.
“Mrs. Findley is a great teacher,” freshman Maddie Liner said. “She makes everyone feel comfortable. Even if you don’t understand what we are doing, she always makes sure you get it. She’s just, overall, a very nice person and a great teacher.”
Findley also choreographs pieces for her classes. While one observer can understand the meaning of her dances, the inspiration behind the movements may be a little less clear.
“Sometimes it’s music. Sometimes it’s a feeling I have. Sometimes it’s a picture or something I’ve read. It really can be from anything,” she said.
Findley also takes inspiration from the year’s “theme,” as she says. According to her, this year’s theme is “down-to-earth and fun!,” and she used it to choreograph this year’s feature dance for the Dance Company. The dance, called “Above It All,” uses shades of light purple and balloons to create an onlooker feel to make the dancers look like they are being lifted off the ground.
“I wanted to create the feeling of going above all of the drama in the world right now, and just sort of go back to when you were a kid and just play and be happy and feel like all things are possible,” Findley said.
The 2015-16 year had a certain “craziness going on,” Findley said. As a result, she used the emotions and thoughts she had during that time to form a circus theme that properly expressed her feelings through the dance.
“In my life, it felt like I was juggling a lot, and I think that played out in the choreography,” Findley said.
Findley also uses her family as muses for her pieces. In a piece called “Group Hug,” she represents elements of her family as movements. She had four core dancers who represented her immediate family and a “Greek Chorus” of dancers who represented friends who passed away.
“I really loved that piece,” Findley said. “That was really emotional for me, that piece.”
She even revealed a sneak peek of next year’s theme. Findley is exploring the Amazonian Women and their relation to mythology and our world today.
“The company is going to be mostly women, [so] I want to do an empowering and fierce piece with gold headbands, headdresses and everything,” Findley said.
Findley, like most teachers, has to say goodbye to her seniors at the end of the year. However, her situation is a little bit different from most since she has known some of her students since they were freshmen. Having a strong bond with her seniors, she acknowledges that it is hard to see them go.
“As a teacher, you constantly have this feeling of being left,” Findley said. “You hope that you have helped them move forward, so that they will end up being successful and happy.”