Alumni Spotlights

“Dive in head first and don’t try to control the outcome. The sooner you get comfortable with not knowing what is going to happen to you, the sooner you will find the true beauty of this program. Allow every day to be significant and life-altering. Take risks. Let things knock you down. Let people help you up.” Charbel Rohayem, Class of 2016

Charbel Rohayem, Class of 2016

Hometown: Richmond, CA

Where are you headed to after graduation?

This June I will be in Montreal, Canada to partake in Springboard Danse Montreal, a three week program that brings companies from around the globe to teach and set contemporary dance works. I will then spend two weeks in July attending Northwest Dance Project’s LAUNCH:11 in Portland, Oregon. After my summer dance endeavors, I will be moving to Chicago, Illinois in August to join Hubbard Street 2 for their 2016-2017 season.

How would you describe your overall experience at the LINES BFA Program at Dominican in just three words?

Gritty. Exposing. Enlightening.

What is one valuable memory or lesson that you look forward to applying to your position with Hubbard Street 2?

During one of Maurya’s class my sophomore year, she got really frustrated with us at a combination in center. She paused the accompanist and began to speak to us about how impactful our dancing could be. I remember her specifically saying, “Dancing like this is not going to save the world.” It really struck me to think that my movement could have that potential at that age. Throughout the years, however, I can attest that I have experienced healing on a personal level from witnessing dance, and I hope to only be able to do the same for others with my position at Hubbard Street 2.
It is such a blessing to have been offered this opportunity, and I hope to execute my job as a dancer, and ultimately as a humanitarian, to my utmost potential. This position with Hubbard Street 2 provides me with a platform to share and communicate with people from around the globe, and there is nothing more an artist could ask for. I am beyond grateful for the direction and blessings that I have been given!

What was your most unexpected yet impressionable experience preparing and performing for the Senior Showcase at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts?

On show day, approximately 10 minutes until the top of the show, I was bouncing around in the wings attempting to calm my nerves when Alonzo came backstage and approached me. I’m sure he could feel the anxiety attack building up inside me when he greeted me. He began to speak to me about my journey through the program these last four years, and how I was not the same boy he first met freshman year. He told me incredibly beautiful and inspiring things that assured me that there was no reason for me to doubt myself; that I had all the tools within me already to achieve my fullest potential that night, and any moment from there on. For anyone who has spoken with Alonzo, they understand the impact of his insight. How his words hit your nervous system and psyche, transforming definitions into feelings, ideas, and emotion. His words became tangible because I could feel the truth and sincerity in his speech. We only spoke for about a minute or so, but what he said has stuck permanently in a newly profound way. It was as though he took my doubt and nerves with him as he left to sit in the audience. I’ve never felt so free and in control of my life as I did that night on that stage. It was nothing short of magic.

What is one important lesson you learned while working on your Senior Project that you'd want to share with young aspiring dancers?

As a choreographer, it is never satisfying to be the only creative output. As students we are taught discipline and structure, which are extremely important aspects when dancing in a professional environment. I, however, feel that young dancers often then assume that they must then contain their imagination and creative voice. Imagination is not a bad habit. Not tracking your knees is a bad habit. Speaking in class is a bad habit. Rolling your eyes at the teacher is a bad habit. Imagination is the source for human creation. Discipline is there to allow the environment of the room to hold endless potential. You discipline your body and your actions to unleash your creativity. Having a wild imagination is only a crutch when you attempt to conceal it.
Come into a process with ideas of your own. The choreographer may not always like your interpretation, but they will always know when you’re engaged. With dancers that are willing, engaged, and open to anything, the possibilities become limitless. The choreographer needs the dancers just as much as the dancers need the director. Every single person plays a vital role in the process, so take responsibility of that role by constantly thinking and questioning when in process. Lastly, don’t look to please the director before you please yourself. If you’re not enjoying it, most likely they aren’t either.

If you could give one piece of advice to incoming or prospective students, what would it be?

Dive in head first and don’t try to control the outcome. The sooner you get comfortable with not knowing what is going to happen to you, the sooner you will find the true beauty of this program. Allow every day to be significant and life-altering. Take risks. Let things knock you down. Let people help you up. Don’t freak out when college isn’t easy, because it just isn’t easy.
TALK TO YOUR TEACHERS!! It drives me absolutely insane hearing how many students are too nervous to speak to an instructor about a problem they’ve been having or a question they’ve been considering. They are called instructors because they are there to instruct you! Take advantage of them. They want nothing more than to see every student’s dreams come to fruition, so let them help you. We are the next generation of dance artists and we must keep the knowledge that’s been passed down through our faculty. Always consider their ideas and opinions, but you are not bound to them! You are a free thinking artist and you have the ability to take what you will and leave the rest. Use all the resources at your disposal to find your path through the program, because I promise you that an agenda will not be handed to you.
Take care of your bodies! Most importantly, connect with as many incredible artists and people as you can. This program contains some of the most beautiful souls that you will ever meet!

Photo by Steve Disenhof.

Other Alumni Spotlights

Alivia (Liv) Schaffer
Class of 2013
"The faculty at LINES always offered me a lot of support during a very difficult time in my life. They all encouraged me to lean in and embrace the darkness in difficulty instead of run from it. I remind myself of this advice every day. It has not only applied to me as an ever healing and ever growing human, but has fueled my artistry into a place that exists without fear."
Click here to read Liv's spotlight.
Elizabeth Lapena
Class of 2011
"As artists, we have been given the responsibility through dance of showing our beauty to others, and are viscerally brave enough to jump. I encourage you to do so, as LINES guided me to find that."
Click here to read Elizabeth's spotlight.