Makayla Church Rosenberger

Makayla Church
Dance Educator; MFA Student at Texas Woman’s University

Bachelor of Arts in Dance, K-12 eductation concentration UNC Charlotte (2018)

Hometown: West Jefferson, N.C.

Makayla Church Rosenberger is a dance educator who will enter the Master of Fine Arts in Dance program at Texas Women's University in the fall of 2022. 

What has been your pathway from UNC Charlotte to graduate school?  

I first started as a middle and high school dance teacher in Henderson County in the Flat Rock area in 2018. I then moved back to Charlotte to start a new dance program at Hopewell High School.  I also work, currently, as the advanced ballet teacher at Dance Fusion in Harrisburg, a local studio started by a UNC Charlotte alum. At that studio, I get to work with students ages 9-18. I also coach and choreograph for Youth America Grand Prix. Currently, I am working on a community project where I teach free dance classes in Concord, open to the community, and sponsored by The Collective of Concord, a co-work space for non-profits. I have performed twice in Loose Leaves showcases—a local choreographer showcase-- in Charlotte and I’m working with dance film. I will be moving to Texas shortly—in the summer.

I was recently awarded a grant for a summer dance festival through Ashe County Arts Council. That is my hometown. That will take place in July 2022. I will be teaching two weeks of free dance classes for the community, setting a repertoire piece for local dancers, and bringing dancers from Charlotte to perform in an evening concert.  

What led you to graduate school? What do you hope to gain?

I knew when I was an undergrad that I wanted to pursue graduate school because I have an interest in dance scholarship as well as teaching and dancing. In this stage of life I find that I miss having time and space to focus on my own artistry. I am grateful for Loose Leaves, where I was able to present work, which provided some outlet, but I am seeking the training and creative freedom graduate school will provide. I want to become a more well-rounded teacher, choreographer, writer, leader.

I hope to gain more skills in writing, research, and pedagogy. The program I chose has undergraduate teaching opportunities, which I hope to pursue. I want to make work and challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone.  My thesis will involve a proposal or paper and a performance—full-length work—or workshop.  A physical component—whatever fits my interests the best.

I hope to continue working with community dance classes. I have felt challenged and rewarded in working through the Collective with adult dancers with a variety of different movement backgrounds who really love to move. I would like to eventually be a professor of dance. 

Can you say more about the Collective of Concord and how that has provided a base for you?

The Collective is an outreach from One Life Church. The church leadership offered this opportunity, offering a space and a community. The Collective already offers therapy and other resources. My goal is to further community and to create movement experiences for women or female identifying individuals. We have discussions and journal together. We talk about body image. Pre-teens through adults.  I have some mother/daughter duos and adult women of all ages. We meet every other week for an hour.

How did UNC Charlotte help you figure out next steps?

The department gave me a toolbox or backpack of skills that I continue to hone. I have been able to use skills learned in school in many ways: thinking quickly on my feet; adapting to new situations; and trying different movement styles, and taking on new opportunities. In history and writing classes, I directly apply dance history to my teaching. In my writing class, the grant I wrote became the grant I got this summer. There have been very tangible applications and outcomes. 

In 2018, you received the state-wide Outstanding Student Teacher of the Year Award from North Carolina Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Can you talk about what that did for you?

I was surprised when I got that award. When you teach the arts, your colleagues may see your work, your subject area, as less important. Getting that award so early in my career gave me the confidence and credibility to move forward as a beginning teacher. It gave me the sense that what I am doing is valuable and that I am doing a good job, even when it feels like I am not.

What advice do you have for current dance students?

Try all of the opportunities that are available to you, even those things you are less comfortable with. That broadens your toolbox. I think back to my experience in Tamara Williams’s ring shout-inspired piece. I was not familiar or comfortable with the movement vocabulary. However, it challenged me and helped me find more groundedness in my dancing. The experience also helped me learn new histories.