Student Spotlight: Monik Walters ’19 leads in the arts on campus
Monik Walters ’19 wears many hats. As Student Assembly president, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at Dartmouth, leader of the Dartmouth Alliance for Children of Color, Hopkins Center curatorial fellow, a member of Ujima and choreographer for D-Step, Walters has made an impact on various spaces on campus, especially in the arts.
In her freshman year, she co-founded D-Step, a dance troupe open to all who are interested.
“My friends and I thought about what was missing on campus, which was a space to find community in dance without fear of not making the cut,” Walters said. “As eight black women, we recognized the importance of step in our community, and we wanted to share the joy of step in a way that catered to everyone.”
Walters also works as a choreographer for D-Step, creating intricate routines that incorporate the body as an instrument of percussion.
“Listening to music is a real experience,” she said. “The beats, sounds, and tones in a song are my gateway to mapping out movements that would look good on a body. I’ve choreographed in many genres, sometimes hip hop, sometimes contemporary. It depends on what kind of movement matches the song.”
As a dancer in high school, Walters came to Dartmouth knowing dance was something she wanted to pursue, but she didn’t know what she would find.
“I liked that Ujima was centered around people of color,” Walters said. “I found what I was looking for in the dance community.”
Those who see Walters’ performances remark on her stage presence and fluidity of movement.
“Any time I’m watching a group, my eyes are drawn to her; not just the moves, but how she does them,” Amara Gordon ’19 said. “She has her own unique artistry that she brings to any performance.”
Walters’ extensive dance experience has taught her to consider the character of her audience before she goes onstage when she performs.
“I trust I know the movement on my body, so if I’m at a Greek house, I try to figure out how to keep them entertained as it’s more intimate and visible,” Walter said. “If I’m in an auditorium, I think about how my emotions will read to the person that is farthest from me.”
Along with her involvement in D-Step and Ujima, Walters is a curatorial fellow for the Hopkins Center. Open to juniors and seniors, this position allows students a chance to fully produce shows, from curating the performers to putting it on the stage.
“I was reached out to by [Hopkins Center Director] Mary Lou Aleskie after she saw my work around campus,” Walters said. “I have been tasked with producing, managing and curating Thursday Night Live to showcase students. I’m part of conversations about next year’s calendar, seeing what talent would be well-received.”
Though Walters’ activities on campus are wide-ranging, her consciousness of the needs of people, as well as her comfort around them, unites her work in the public spheres of the arts and student politics.
“I have been able to bring different conversations to different rooms,” Walters said. “What students want more creatively, I try to open those doors. I try to stay aware of different worlds and how they can benefit from each other.”
Those who encounter Walters are struck by her energy, sensitivity and warmth.
“No matter the context [in which] you meet her, you gravitate towards her,” Jovanay Carter ’19 said. “Metaphorically and physically, because she hugs you for 10 seconds. She just has a presence that shines light, even when she’s down.”
Through all her accomplishments, Walters stays grounded in the knowledge that she can better the lives of individuals though her work. She hopes to keep people entertained, in whatever form that takes, for the rest of her life.
“As cliche as it sounds, I’m passionate about people,” she said. “There is something so pure about connection with someone. The arts have expanded my knowledge of what it means to connect, physically, emotionally and mentally.”