Dance is not a career for the faint-hearted. It will push an artist’s limits day in and day out, especially one who strives to become a part of the dance world in New York City. For Maria Ambrose, BFA Dance ’11, an early opportunity at Mason planted the seed that would grow into her professional career, and land her in the spotlight.
While pursuing her bachelor of fine arts degree at Mason’s School of Dance, Ambrose was cast in Elisa Monte Dance’s (EMD) iconic piece Pigs and Fishes by Tiffany Rea-Fisher, EMD’s newly appointed artistic director, and performed that piece in that spring’s gala concert. After finishing her degree, Ambrose traveled to New York City to see the company perform, participated in master classes, and auditioned for the company a mere two months after graduation. Taken on initially as an apprentice, Ambrose worked hard and was offered a spot as a full-time company member the following season.
Now entering her seventh season with the New York City-based EMD, Ambrose balances a full-time rehearsal schedule, participation with EMD’s flourishing outreach programming, and a national and international touring schedule. As is the case with 95 percent of U.S.-based dance companies, EMD is short on funding, so Ambrose outsources additional income, her days beginning before her rehearsals and lasting long thereafter.
Is it worth it? Ambrose thinks so.
“It had been my dream to perform in Europe since I was a child. Last year, EMD toured to Luxembourg, and it was quite literally a dream come true,” she says. “I remember right before the curtain went up one of the stagehands asked us if we were ready, in French, and that’s when it hit me—I had made it to Europe. This huge goal that I dreamed about all the time growing up in New Hampshire had come true. I started crying right before I went on stage—happy tears—which is funny because the name of the piece we performed was Elisa Monte’s Tears Rolling.”
—Caroline Yost, BFA ’11
Photo by Matthew Murphy