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Madelyn M. Ho ’08 began her dance career choreographing her own routines to a cassette tape of “Amazing Grace” at the age of six. Now, approaching the end of her senior year at Harvard, the Chemical and Physical Biology concentrator plans to move to New York after graduation and pursue dance professionally.
Ho, who is classically trained, was exposed to modern dance for the first time at Harvard and attributes her decision to pursue a career in the field to the University’s dance program. “It’s amazing that [Harvard] is willing to put in this much effort to give us these opportunities,” she says. “It’s been really awesome. I never considered dancing after graduation, but because of how great it’s been, I really want to continue dancing.”
Ho has been a member of the Harvard Ballet Company (HBC) since her freshman year. In that time she also served as ballet mistress and was involved in the production “American Grace” on the Loeb Mainstage last year.
Ho has not only dedicated herself to different varieties of dance, but has also taken interest in the production elements of dance performances at Harvard. Aside from her active involvement in the HBC, she is also a member of the Harvard Contemporary Dance Ensemble, which is sponsored by the Harvard Dance Program. Last year, Ho was a dance proctor for the Freshman Arts Program as well as the producer and stage manager of the Arts First Dance Festival.
Ho has been involved in CityStep since freshman year, both as a teacher and as a classroom director. “I love kids and I love dance,” she says. “CityStep allows me to do both. It’s been a really great thing for me. The people in CityStep are the most enthusiastic and dedicated people on campus.”
Ho is excited about Harvard’s recent decision to offer dance courses for credit, citing her positive experience in the Paul Taylor class that she took this semester. “It’s great to see that Harvard is making the shift towards combining theory with practice,” Ho says. “That has been something that has really enriched my experience. I feel you can’t really detach the two.”
In 2007, Ho received an Artist Development Fellowship from the Office for the Arts (OFA) and Office of Career Services for intensive study of modern dance in New York. “[The fellowship] helped me see that this is something I really enjoy and want to keep doing,” she says. “It was really important to me because if I hadn’t gotten funding, I would not have been able to do it.”
Ho, who has also given back to the arts community by serving as a member of the task force on the arts, is very positive about her involvement in the arts at Harvard. “I’m so thankful for all the people who have provided us with these amazing opportunities—Elizabeth Bergman [Artistic Director of the Dance Program] and the OFA,” she says. “These are amazing people and amazing resources.”
When asked about her plans for next year, Ho responds in a refreshingly laid-back manner. “I’m going to take any dance cslass I can and go to any audition I can,” she says. “It’s sort of scary, but whatever happens, happens. I’m just going to roll with the punches.”
Despite the risks involved, Ho feels that her decision is the right one. “If I don’t give myself the chance to dance, it’s something that I will always regret. It’s something I’m doing for myself. If I don’t make it, so be it,” she says.
Ho remains realistic about life after dance. “I’m going to pursue [dance] as long as I can, but I’m not going to make it a lifelong career. I see myself going back to the sciences in some way,” she says. “I’d like to find a way to incorporate dance—maybe dance medicine. Or maybe I’ll just be a huge supporter.”
No matter what the outcome, Ho looks back on her college experience with gratitude to her fellow dancers for the bonds she has formed through dancing.
“Another amazing thing about the arts at Harvard is the enthusiasm and passion of the students,” she says. “I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to work and perform alongside these people, and many of them are my closest friends at Harvard.”
—Rachel M. Green
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