AU graduate joins professional dance company

Wed, 2011-10-05 08:00 -- univcomm
October 5, 2011

Anderson University 2010 graduate Phillip Crawshaw is living proof that hard work and determination can turn dreams into reality. Although he had no prior dance experience before attending AU, Crawshaw is now a professional dancer at the Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre (GHDT), located in Carmel, Ind. Though his dream was not realized until his sophomore year of college, Crawshaw’s perseverance has led him to a place in a prestigious dance company.

phillip-crawshaw-headshotCrawshaw was a family science and psychology major who took his first dance class during his freshman year of college. He began with a basic jazz course and then auditioned for the school musical Carousel.

After seeing his talent in the musical, Laurel Goetzinger, associate professor of music, and Doug King, dance instructor, encouraged Crawshaw to pursue a dance minor. “I saw something in him that reminded me of myself,” said King. “He was built for dance. He took to it very well and he enjoyed it, so we pushed him to learn the proper technique. I saw a real potential in him.”

Crawshaw declared a dance minor during his sophomore year. He was also awarded a full scholarship to the summer intensive program of the Jordan Academy of Dance at Butler University. During that experience Crawshaw discovered his true passion for dance. “After that summer I tried to be in every technique class of all levels ranging from ballet, modern and jazz, to tap and musical theatre,” he said.

Throughout the next two years, Crawshaw became a common face on the AU stage. Performing in AU shows such as “Spring into Dance,” “Candles and Carols,” “Fall into Dance,” and various operas and musicals, Crawshaw became known for his talent. “As a dance partner he was strong as well as gentle,” said fellow AU dancer Kimmie Icenogle. “I admire Phillip most for his sense of drive and motivation.”

During his junior year, Crawshaw found himself with a dilemma: should he pursue his dance career or his master’s degree in counseling? He decided to pursue both options by auditioning and applying for grad schools. “I always had a great support system from all of my dance professors to pursue counseling in graduate school and all of my family science and psychology professors to pursue dancing professionally,” said Crawshaw.

After graduating, Crawshaw decided to pursue his master’s degree. But after one semester in graduate school, he decided to return to the stage. “Once I was away from dance, I truly believed that dance was what I should be doing right now,” said Crawshaw. “Although getting my master’s is still a huge goal for me, I will continue that when I decide to retire from dance.”

During the audition process for GHDT, Crawshaw found himself struggling. He was disappointed that he was not picking up the choreography right away. He was, however, contacted by the company’s founder and lead choreographer, Gregory Hancock. “Gregory said he saw something that was moldable and he could see me growing and learning a lot from being in the company,” said Crawshaw.

Crawshaw is now one of two male dancers in the GHDT company. GHDT is a professional contemporary dance company that combines several styles of dance to create a unique style and a deep sense of emotion. According to the company's mission statement, GHDT is a “professional form of dance dedicated to the exploration and presentation of thought-provoking issues with the ability to transcend the barriers that divide our world. We strive to enlighten, educate, and entertain audiences of all ages.” Crawshaw is now an active member in many of the company productions including Seven Deadly Sins, Salome, and Hunchback of Notre Dame.

“I truly thank God for my dance experiences at AU,” said Crawshaw. “With the classes being small, the professors could work individually with me and the other students. Through all of the pain, blood, sweat, and tears, I would not give up the knowledge and strength I gained from AU.”

— Kelly Gualdoni is a junior from Fort Wayne, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Gualdoni is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.