Student spotlight: Carly Carlin ’15, Fusion co-president
When Carly Carlin ’15 first began taking dance lessons at five years old, she refused to take ballet classes because she “hated the color pink.” Now, the 21-year-old co-president of Fusion Dance Ensemble has 14 years of classical ballet training under her belt. This Sunday, she led Fusion in a “Your Space” performance at the Hopkins Center’s Bentley Theater.
“I just completely fell in love with [ballet] and now it’s my favorite style and the one I choreograph the most in.” Carlin said. “I see it as one of the most athletic things you could do.”
Carlin has also studied jazz and modern dance and describes her choreographing style as “lyrical contemporary,” taking elements of multiple styles she has studied and allowing for some flexibility with techniques.
Carlin said that she had always been athletic, having played softball, basketball, soccer and tennis as a child in her hometown of Westchester, New York. When she reached middle school and had to decide in which area she wanted to focus, the choice came down to dance and tennis. -She said that choosing dance was the best decision she could have made.
“I’m not really a competitive person,” Carlin said. “I like that dance is individual but also really collaborative — I feel like I’m more artistic and it suits me.”
While in Carlin’s first dance performance she only danced the role of a seed pearl in “The Little Mermaid,” she said that she quickly fell in love with the performance process — the costumes, lights, make-up and energy. She continued to perform with the same studio throughout middle school and high school, attending four or five practices weekly.
Carlin said that she knew she would continue to dance in college and factored the quality and availability of dance programs at various schools into her college application process.
Carlin joined Fusion her freshman fall, after finding out about the dance group’s auditions through a message on Blitz.
“I totally went in blind,” Carlin said. “It was definitely a transition for me.”
Carlin said that she immersed herself in the group, enjoying both the social aspects and the opportunities to choreograph, even as a freshman.
Now, Carlin is the co-president of Fusion, alongside Molly Chodakewitz ’15. Carlin said that they have approached their leadership roles with an emphasis on sharing responsibilities and creating a fun atmosphere for the other dancers.
One of her goals for the year was to increase the group’s publicity efforts, both to raise awareness about Fusion on campus and drum up freshmen interest in auditions before orientation even began, Carlin said. She redesigned and reworked the group’s YouTube and Facebook pages to boost their social media presence.
In addition, Carlin said she wanted to lessen the problem of a lack of diverse performance spaces, which many performance groups at the College face. While Fusion, as well as a cappella, improv and other dance groups, typically perform in fraternity and sorority houses, she said that she wanted to give the group opportunities to perform at other venues. To achieve this goal, she entered the group in the Hopkins Center’s “Your Space” lottery, which Fusion won. The performance also featured South Asian dance group Raaz and the a cappella group the Subleties. Carlin said that she facilitated conversation with the various group leaders and worked with the Hopkins Center’s staff to design the show’s overall appearance and lighting.
Fusion member Sarah Epstein ’17 said that Carlin’s contributions to the group’s choreography have inspired her to begin choreographing, as well.
“She always has a clear vision of what she wants,” Epstein said.
When choreographing a dance, Carlin said that she first finds a song that inspires her and then heads to the studio to work out the moves she wants to use. She records herself dancing and listens to the music repeatedly to achieve the precision and timing she desires.
Chodakewitz, who has been in many of Carlin’s dances, described her style as very technical and complex.
“When she choreographs, she really has a vision,” Chodakewitz said. “People are running offstage and coming onstage in different groups, and a million things going on at once, but when you put it together it all works. It is so beautiful and so intricate.”
Carlin has offered herself up as a resource for the younger members of the group, giving advice and providing inspiration, Epstein said. In the group, she is known for giving out her phone number to new members of Fusion, offering to walk with them to rehearsals and inviting them to meals in order to get to know them better.
Epstein said that Carlin’s easy-going attitude and proactive behavior make her a strong leader.
“She’s really good on the fly,” Epstein said. “If anything goes wrong, she’s always the one jumping in to fix it.”
Chodakewitz said that Carlin has amassed what is referred to as the “Carly Carlin Fan Club,” which is comprised of members from her freshman floor who still continue to attend her shows.
“They come to every single show I’ve ever had, which is so nice,” Carlin said. “It makes me so happy.”
Outside of her involvement with Fusion, Carlin is majoring in geography modified with environmental studies. After college, she plans on working in international development and global and environmental health. While she said that she does not plan to dance professionally, she wants it to remain a major part of her life.
Next Song to Choreograph: “Thinking Out Loud” (2014) by Ed Sheeran
Favorite Song to Dance to: “Pompeii” (2013) by Bastille
Dream Dance Partner: Daniel Ulbricht from New York City Ballet
Favorite dance move: tour jeté en tournant