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Alumnae Stories

Emily McManus

Alumnae Stories

I've made many connections with alumnae through Salem and the Lucy Rose Center. Salem is a very small and close-knit campus, so it is very easy to make connections with other students, and Salem students are always willing to help out their siblings with connections, jobs, and internships.

Emily McManus 2019

Most everyone in life dreams of standing center stage with the bright lights pointed directly on them for their 15 minutes of fame. The stage that they dream of standing on may vary—from an auditorium for a special presentation, a field or court for an athlete or centre stage for a ballerina or dancer—with flowers being tossed on stage after hitting every stride in perfect harmony and the roar of the crowd cheering and shouting bravo.

But in order to reach those moments in a performance you have to practice repetitively, working on your flaws along the way, breaking bad habits. When a dancer and ballerina sits backstage as the production crew frantically makes the final preparations, they tie their shoes across their sore and sometimes painful feet to ensure a glove-like fit. Their hair and makeup flawless, they run their mind through the motions of the presentation that awaits, changing their breath with each jump as they find their rhythm and timing.

The show’s director enters the room, shouting “you are up next,” the dancer and ballerina takes one final breath and closes their eyes whispering ‘okay, time to shine.’ As famous dancer Shanna LaFleur once put said “it takes an athlete to dance, but an artist to be a dancer.”

Salem junior Emily McManus, member of the class of 2022, has that same passion for dancing whenever she takes the stage in her own right. “I grew up dancing competitively, so I did every type of dance- ballet, pointe, modern, contemporary, hip hop, jazz, tap, musical theater, etc.,” said McManus. “I was mostly trained in ballet, though.”

McManus, the Salem Dance Club Company President and a Junior Class Wellness Representative, began dancing at the age of two.  As she describes it “most of my dance experiences are from competitions and auditions I went to growing up. I would take classes and audition for scholarships, dance gigs, and awards with hundreds of other girls in a big hotel ballroom with a paper number safety-pinned to my leotard. We would break into small groups to perform in front of the judges, and as soon as we finished the combination, we would form a straight line in front of the judges, standing in first position with our hands clasped behind our back.

“The judges would look at the line, discuss amongst themselves behind their clipboards, and choose a select few to stay. That was during the day, and at night was the actual competition. I would get ready, do my hair and makeup, and then warm up and change into my costume. I always got so nervous standing backstage and waiting (especially watching the other dances before me) but the moment that my music started and the lights hit my face it was like everything else in the world disappeared and I wasn’t nervous anymore.”

McManus’ dance experience continues to be her driving passion and she brought it to her classes at Salem, where she is majoring in Dance and Movement Science. She discussed her love of dance and more important Salem College and provided the following responses:

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