By Allison Bohman
This year the department of dance has had the honor of working with a new faculty member, Stevie Oakes. Growing up in a military family, she had the opportunity to travel and dance in a variety of places, beginning her dance lessons in the Netherlands as part of the children’s division of Netherlands Dance Theater. She even had dual citizenship in Japan until age 18! Eventually, her family settled in Virginia where she began to study dance more seriously and realized her love for dancing was something quite serious. A hobby that she started as a young child because of her Mother’s interest in the art form was turning into a life-long career possibility.
In addition to her talent and ambition for dance, Ms. Oakes chose to go to college to get her degree in chemistry and kinesiology. This academically bound dancer, had ambitions of attending medical school and nothing could get in her way! She continued dancing all the way through her college career, and upon graduation decided that she should take a shot at being a professional dancer. Stevie moved to New York City to pursue her MFA in dance at New York University.
As a professional dancer, Ms. Oakes’ favorite credits included combing the ideals of ballet and modern with a contemporary ballet company, Eidolon in NYC. Dancing with Kinetic Architecture was one of her professional highlights. Ms. Oakes even had the honor of touring Germany with Gina Gibney’s dance company. This all -female troupe presented at an International Dance Festival.
Here at Brockport, Stevie is adored by students. Her smiling face and positive energy brings life to dance studios and classrooms in Hartwell Hall. When asked about how teaching came into the picture for her, Stevie replied, “I’ve always been a teacher. I began teaching at a local dance studio when I was fifteen years old. I always knew it was for me, it was just a matter of time before I got there.” While dancing with Gina’s company, she had the opportunity to teach master classes at New York University’s Tisch School of the arts. Stevie describes the “high” she gets off of teaching as being greater than performing.
Having taught in various residencies across the nation, Brockport is lucky to have such an outstanding educator sharing her love for dance and knowledge of kinesiology with students. When asked about what stands out the most about working with students in Brockport, Stevie explained the feeling as being a “beautiful suspension of disbelief.” She feels that she could ask students to do anything, and there is an inquisitive openness to do it. She states that “there is a thoughtful approach to learning and a sense of willingness to entertain the ideals that exist at Brockport.” She describes Brockport as a supportive learning community, and she hopes that students hold onto this sense as they move into the larger dance world.
In addition to Stevie’s teaching and dancing experiences, she also is highly involved with The Harkness Center for Dance Injury in New York City, where she started off with an internship when she first moved to NYC and eventually gave summer workshops about injury prevention.
As a dance artist, educator and injury specialist, Stevie Oakes has a plethora of experiences to share with students at Brockport. When asked if she had any advice for students aspiring career paths in areas of her expertise, she replied, “Make sure you check in in with yourself often. Be open to any path that becomes possible. Take opportunities but then check in with yourself and make sure that it is what you want. Don’t stay with something that doesn’t feel right.”
Welcome to Brockport, Stevie!