Student Spotlight: Rachel Beck ’19 dances from studio to stage
Beck talks about live performance, her future in the arts and being a team player.
Since she was a toddler, Rachel Beck ’19 loved to dance.
Despite the importance of dance in her life now, the conception of her interest has hazy origins.
“I think my mom just put me in a ballet class and I loved it,” Beck said. “I’ve loved it forever.”
As a member of Sugarplum, Beck expresses her passion for dance through the group’s contemporary and jazz repertoire.
“She’s such a beautiful dancer and such a beautiful performer,” said Charlotte Chui ’20, director of Sugarplum.
Not content to limit herself to one space of expression on campus, Beck has journeyed beyond the dance studio and into the realm of theater.
Continuing her interest in musical theater from high school, Beck performed in the mainstage musical “Urinetown” last year and is currently a cast member of the upcoming fall production of “Cabaret.” Beck will appear as Frenchie, a Kit Kat girl — a role that heavily features dance numbers.
“There’s something magical about live theater,” Beck said. “To me, it’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else.”
Keith Coughlin, theater department lecturer and the choreographer for “Cabaret,” said that Beck’s hardworking attitude sets her apart as a cast member.
“She always works incredibly diligently to effectively perform what we ask of her,” Coughlin said. “[Beck has] diligence and dedication.”
Chui echoed that sentiment, saying that Beck has pushed the group to improve as a unit.
“[Beck is] such a good role model,” Chui said. “[She makes] the group more dedicated and work harder. I continue to be inspired by her amazing abilities.”
Coughlin added that Beck’s personality helps her as a leader.
“She — I can tell — is approachable,” Coughlin said. “She is willing to help.”
Although comfortable dancing in front of audiences, Beck said she still struggles with some aspects of performing.
“My biggest challenge is that I get nervous singing in front of people,” Beck said. “It’s definitely something that I’ve been working on and continue to work on — to be confident enough to hear myself talk and sing on stage.”
To inspire herself to do her best, Beck said that it helps to remind herself that all of her performances are team-based.
“It’s a collective,” Beck said. “I remind myself to be a team player. I give as much of myself as I want everyone else to give to the production.”
Reflecting on her experiences overall as well as what she has observed as an artist on campus, Beck said that the secrets to not losing hope, drive and focus in the arts are passion, humility and staying true to a personal vision. Growth, according to Beck, is also an important part of achieving a successful career in the arts.
“You always have to be willing to be taught and to listen and to grow from people who do know more than you,” Beck said. “To me, [one needs] a burning passion to do it.”
By continuing to work hard and push herself, Beck has created a name for herself in her artistic communities. Beck is a key figure in Sugarplum, which she considers a second family.
“We’re not just a group of people that dance together, but we’re a group of people that also care about each other,” Beck said. “We’re all really great friends … I don’t think we have any arguments. And we all love what we do.”
Beck said that when she thinks about the struggles of pursuing the arts that lie ahead of her, she can be discouraged by the lack of institutional support.
“Sometimes, at Dartmouth … I feel like there aren’t as many opportunities afforded to students who want to pursue an actual career in the performing arts,” Beck said. “There’s no recruiting or anything … like there is for finance and consulting.”
Chui noted Beck’s potential as a choreographer in the future.
“I would really love to see her choreograph,” Chui said. “I really want to see what [her dance] would translate into [in] her own piece, like a dance for Sugarplum.”
Coughlin said he saw Beck continuing her career in theater in all possible roles.
“[Beck] is an effective performer and dancer and collaborator,” Coughlin said. “She has presence to be a student leader, and I hope that she’ll continue in the arts at Dartmouth and beyond if she chooses ... She is the type of person you would want to work on projects like this with.”
While uncertain about specificities, Beck said she does envision a future career in the arts.
“I just can’t imagine doing anything else,” said Beck. “It’s something I absolutely love to do.”