When Rebecca Stenn came from New York City to Milwaukee to earn her MFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts, she was immediately struck by the size difference. Not the size of the cities, but the size of the studios she was working in.
“I came from New York where it’s squished. Studios are scarce and the spaces are small,” Stenn says. “Walking into this enormous space at Kenilworth where there was air – it had a different feel. It seeps into your approach to the work: time, space, air. Having room to be. I had room to move, spread out, and slow down right off the bat.”
Stenn was fully engaged in a successful dance career in New York City, including running her own dance company, when a graduate student from the Peck School contacted her, seemingly out of the blue, for an interview.
The interview was an assignment for the dance student’s class, and it piqued Stenn’s interest. Previously unaware of the Peck School, she was excited to learn about the MFA program that allowed working professionals to obtain their master’s degree.
“The program is very unique in this sense,” says Stenn, who earned a BFA in dance from Juilliard. “It draws professionals who can’t up and leave their lives. They’re here for a period of time, and they can continue life and work during the year.”
Not only did Stenn find much-desired space at the Peck School, but she also found time to really dig into her work. “All the advisors and mentors gave you permission to slow down and talk about it, think about what choices could be made,” she says. “As a professional, time is money and you always feel it. You have to focus and be efficient and get it all done before the next group of dancers come in to the rented rehearsal space. Being at the Peck School was a delight.”
Today Stenn continues to produce shows with her dance company, which she formed in 1996, and teach as an assistant professor at The New School in New York.
Photo Credit: Steven Schrieber