Thursday, December 13, 2018

Student Able to Pursue Love of Dance at SLCC Without College Debt

Allie Anderson quite literally soared as a dancer at Copper Hills High School not long ago, her drill team winning three state competitions while she was a student there. Anderson, 20, has been twirling and leaping since she was two, when she would spend time at her grandmother’s dance studio in Kearns.

So, when she enrolled at the University of Utah in 2016 with an academic scholarship and money saved up for college, it looked like she was on her way toward a bachelor’s degree in modern dance. But for someone determined to pay her own way through school without the help of student loans, the price of a college education quickly added up. “That’s why I switched to Salt Lake Community College, to get my associate’s degree,” she says. “I haven’t gone into debt, yet.”

Upon arriving at SLCC, she quickly discovered the school has a robust dance program, with classes in ballet, jazz and modern dance as well as the vibrant SLCC Dance Company, of which Anderson is currently president. And while at the college, she has found that dance – extracurricular and academic – is now set against a backdrop of possibly pursuing a career in  criminology and forensics or detective work. “It wouldn’t be boring,” Anderson says. “I just don’t want a boring lifestyle. I want something that is different than the everyday stuff.”

Then again, dance might still win out for this energetic, personable, self-described average student. “I could end up dancing professionally, because I do love it so much.” Anderson currently teaches kids age 5 to 15 at her grandmother’s studio, Becky’s School of Dance. Even when she is not dancing, she’s still moving. “I just have always liked music and moving around,” she admits. “I have a lot of energy.”

Anderson brings her kinetic presence to SLCC Dance Company, directed by Whitney Harris, who it turns out once took dance instruction at Becky’s School of Dance. Harris calls Anderson a “brilliant” dancer, kind, a strong leader, “extremely silly” and an “extraordinary” person. “She has mastered the art of having fun while working hard, as she is certainly committed to progress,” Harris says. “It's been a real gift to share a strong foundation in dance and character with Allie, having roots in the same company. I don't know what she'll go on to do, probably anything she wants.”

Detective? Dancer? The future for Anderson is full of possibilities. So far, dance has taught her plenty. “You just learn so many life lessons,” she says. “How to be a good sport. To be social. To receive hard corrections without taking it personally. That is the best lesson I’ve learned, for sure.”

Allie Anderson is lifted by fellow Dance Company dancers during their fall performance.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Students Take Part in ‘Super Bowl’ of Visual Display with Macy’s Window Creation

In late August, when the days were still warm, nine students in Matt Monson’s visual merchandising class began thinking about Christmas, with the goal of producing one very large ornament that now hangs in one of the Macy’s holiday window displays in downtown Salt Lake City.

The group met on and off in a small room at SLCC’s Fashion Institute for three weeks, brainstorming and drafting ideas on paper and white boards for the ornament’s theme. They came up with “One Sky,” an idea that represents many cultures and individuals, coexisting under one sky. “We wanted to find a theme that was unifying and celebrated the holidays in its myriad looks and forms across the continent,” Monson said.

Students hung a huge Styrofoam ball – about 48 inches in diameter – with an internal wood frame in that small room, and for the next 10 weeks used 120 pounds of candy, 12 pounds of glue sticks, six pounds of silicone caulk and more than 50 metal skewers to assemble their collaborative creation. Throughout the process, students Katie Crose, Charrisse Fuhriman, Michelle Guanuna, Alivia Matchett, Yukako Ogura, Andee Ramirez, Tracy Robbins, Samantha Salas and Sarah Santistevan were able to meet and work with Macy’s National Window Director, Roya Sullivan, and the local Macy’s visual merchandising team at City Creek Center.

On a chilly Nov. 15 evening, Monson and his students gathered at Macy’s for the big reveal on a sidewalk packed with people, many of whom mark the viewing of these windows each year as the official start of their holiday season. For the students’ hard work and creativity, the ornament becomes an arrow in their professional quiver as they prepare to enter the workforce.

“This project means a lot to the students and SLCC as an institution because this is a very highly visible visual merchandising project, one that will attract thousands of visitors in a 45-day timespan,” Monson said. Students get the opportunity to speak with the public, as well as local media, about their artwork. “For my students, this is likely one of the largest creative projects they’ve ever worked on. In many ways, this annual event is Salt Lake City’s Super Bowl of visual display. To the students, this is a foot in the door with a strong professional piece for their portfolio.”

Matt Monson (rear) and students reveal SLCC's ornament in a Macy's holiday window.

Grand Releases ‘Backstage’ Concert Series Schedule

Salt Lake Community College’s Grand Theatre is welcoming in the new year with their annual Backstage Concert Series, this year featuring the Baby Boomer Comedy Show and Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin’s Back to Basics show.

The Baby Boomer Comedy Show, playing January 4-5, is a 90-minute event that features comedy veterans Jan McInnis and Kent Rader covering an array of topics including family, kids, work, DIY projects, dieting and getting older.

On Jan. 10-12, The Grand will host Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin and her Back to Basics concert, where the vocalist will serenade the audience with a program of popular jazz hits.

The Grand Theater is located at 1575 S. State Street in Salt Lake City. Tickets for the theater’s Backstage series are $20 and can be purchased at, but junior high and high school students can receive one free ticket by presenting their school ID at the Grand’s box office.  Patrons with questions can contact 801-957-3322 for more information.