New faculty: William Seigh
New faculty at Mount Holyoke College William Seigh has danced and taught everything from jazz to modern to musical theater all the way from Kansas to Siberia.
“I love dancers. I know dancers to be creative in every way: smart, inquisitive and unbelievably talented and engaging humans,” said Distinguished Visiting Professor of Dance and Chair of Dance William Seigh, who has danced and taught everything from jazz to modern to musical theater all the way from Kansas to Siberia.
Originally from California, Seigh began teaching at Wichita State University, later enrolling at the University of Colorado Boulder for his M.F.A. Over time he realized that he preferred teaching to performing. His first academic appointment was at James Madison University, where he also danced and toured. From there, it was onto the University of California, Irvine, then to Siberia for a dancing stint, and finally to the Connecticut River Valley, where he commuted to work at Wesleyan University and Keene State College.
Keene State was his creative and professional home for nearly 20 years, where he taught dance technique and theater movement, rising to become interim provost while also serving as head of the American College Dance Association. During the pandemic he served as vice president for academic affairs at Cornish College of the Arts, making a temporary home in Seattle and maintaining a long-distance relationship with his husband.
“At the end of two years, it became abundantly clear that it was time for me to retire and move back home. So I retired and I loved retirement — until I heard from Mount Holyoke,” he laughed.
He knows that accepting a high-visibility role when the arts are so often overlooked is a big responsibility. Seigh underscores the importance of dance — and the value placed upon it by Mount Holyoke.
“What dance brings to students is a sense of self, the ability to lead and the ability to collaborate. You learn discipline. I said to my students the first day I met them at Mount Holyoke that I’ve been a dancer my whole life. I’m confident that learning to dance can prepare us for just about anything. It offers us a broad way of understanding ourselves within the academic environment,” he said.
Seigh plans to focus on supporting junior faculty in achieving tenure and to work directly with students, something he missed in his earlier administrative positions.
“This position has allowed me to do the work I most love: support dance, support dance programs, work with students and really serve in a leadership capacity in a way that would benefit a liberal arts college’s dance program,” he said. “This might sound hokey, but I’m not sure if it’s our environment [and] the buildings that make it so beautiful, or if it’s a reflection of the people on campus, who are so engaged and enthusiastic and so smart.”