State of Inspiration

Christiana Axelsen

Christiana Axelsen '03

Christiana Axelsen '03, Dancer

Academic focus: Dance major

Concentration: Choreography and Performance

Additional Certifications: Merce Cunningham School Professional Training Program Certificate

Employer: Molissa Fenley and Company 

When I first came to Mount Holyoke, I lacked the self-confidence to believe that I could become a professional dancer. Dance was something fun I did between academic classes but, in my mind, not a potential career path for me.

My sophomore year I took a dance criticism course from Constance Valis Hill. For our final assignment, she asked us to write about the work of a post-modern choreographer. To my chagrin, it quickly became apparent that I had no idea what a 'post-modern' choreographer was. Generously, Constance called me into her office and allowed me to watch a dance of Molissa Fenley's "State of Darkness." This piece is a fierce, one woman, solo version of the Rite of Spring. Watching and writing about the work lit me on fire. I

became a dance major, I dove back into the rigor of technique classes with Rose and Charles Flachs, I studied choreography with Terese Freedman and Jim Coleman. Finally for my senior thesis, I created my own version of the Rite of Spring. The Dance Department encouraged me, challenged me and taught me to pursue those things that I am truly passionate about with rigor and discipline. I now live in New York and have the great joy to dance for Molissa Fenley.

Originally from Bainbridge Island, Washington, Christiana Axelsen is a Brooklyn based choreographer, performer and teacher