Student Spotlights

Featured Student Spotlight: Lani Qin Dickinson, Class of 2016

Hometown: Northampton, MA
High School: Idyllwild Arts Academy

What attracted you to Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA at Dominican University of California?

To dance and pursue an education are equally valuable to me. In the summer of 2010, I was introduced to Alonzo King LINES Ballet and contemporary ballet technique for the first time. The faculty, teachers, and choreographers were inspirational. San Francisco and Marin County were both vibrant, exciting yet relaxing locations. The Dominican campus in San Rafael was intimate and beautiful. As a student in the LINES BFA at Dominican, I knew I would be constantly researching and exploring the different ways that I might match my passion with a professional career.

What have you learned about yourself both as a dancer and as a person, since joining the program?

Since joining the program I have learned that dance is an outlet for expression and one can only dance the way that one perceives themself. I did not set out to change people’s views on the human body. Nor did I choose to make a statement about disability. However, I did choose an art form that uses the body as its medium of expression. It is an ugly truth that society imposes different and tougher expectations for the disabled (or anyone “different”). By “tougher” I simply mean that it is harder for a disabled person to be accepted into society for who they are. My training at LINES has taught me that unconsciously made expectations of oneself or for another detracts from the art. To see freely and clearly is a skill that can be practiced. This gives meaning to me. Whether I am dancing in a performance, or living my life, I hope that I am seen for who I am.

What unique common ground have you discovered that you’ve shared with your peers?

Our Class of 2016 is composed of students of different hometowns and training. Support is the common ground that my peers and I seek and have offered one another. We share our dreams. While dance careers have a variety of pathways, my dream is to travel the world with a dance company. I have been doing an apprenticeship with AXIS Dance Company and had the opportunity to work with choreographer Marc Brew. Other choreographers I have had the chance to work with so far are Alonzo King, Christian Burns, Eric Beauchesne and Sidra Bell. I discovered through these experiences that work ethic and personal investigation are what attract most choreographers to a particular dancer. In rehearsals with a choreographer and my peers, the experience is always intimate. We rely on each other for energy, support and inspiration.

What has surprised you about the program?

I am surprised by the amount of growth, originality and passion it takes to finish each year in college, let alone all four. Exhaustion can bring motivation. Our teachers keep us updated on outside workshop opportunities in the Bay Area, touring companies and winter/summer intensives. The program demands that students are active and involved in the broader dance community. Academic teachers are understanding of our busy daily dancing schedules, while our dance teachers try to be sensitive to exam weeks. We learn to prioritize and make decisions that support our work. The individual student has the most control over which direction to go, in both their art and education. It is a huge balancing task that still surprises me.

What is it like balancing a full academic load with a conservatory style of dance training?

Time consuming! I also work a part-time job to support myself. Dance has taught me the value of adaption and discipline. I can apply what I learn in an academic class to my dancing. I can also use my dancing experience in an academic essay or as a research topic. Time management and creative flexibility are skills that balancing dance and academics teach, and are essential for a professional dancer.

What is your favorite thing to do in San Francisco?

I enjoy hiking with my boyfriend, Jake. We hike areas that have elevated views of the city such as Bernal Heights, Corona Heights or Twin Peaks. We bike across bridges and take ferries outside San Francisco. We walk in the nighttime down through the Mission or on the piers along the Embarcadero. Going places is what I like to do, and there is so much to explore in San Francisco.

Photo by Steve Disenhof

Other Student Spotlights

Tatiana Barber
Class of 2016
"I love my class. We are all completely different from one another and we are able to help each other in ways that are constructive and complimentary."
Click here to read Tatiana's spotlight.
Brittany Hernandez
Class of 2015
"I transferred to the LINES BFA at Dominican last year because I was attracted to the balance between the beautiful, peaceful Dominican campus and the opportunity to dance in San Francisco. Transferring to the program is probably one of the best big decisions I have ever made!"
Click here to read Brittany's spotlight.
Will Couture
Class of 2015
"The program not only challenges the physicality of dancers but also challenges the mentality, and this challenge is one that is so vast, we can always continue to grow and understand more. "
Click here to read Will's spotlight.
Phillipa Armes
Class of 2013
"The intensity (physical, emotional, mental, and psychological) and diversity of the program has very, very pleasantly surprised me. I expected to be dancing for hours a day, but I never expected for my days to be so packed and still go by so quickly!"
Click here to read Phillipa's spotlight.
Sarah Wenzel
Class of 2012
"To be surrounded by so many talented people gives us all a constant source of inspiration. It's so rare to be in an environment where everyone is talented, committed, and has so much to offer. "
Click here to read Sarah’s spotlight.
Casey Thorne
Class of 2010
"I am surprised at how the program has undyingly encouraged search for self and individuality in expression. "
Click here to read Casey’s spotlight.