Dance Student Rebekah O’Toole: The Freedom to Express Yourself
By Kelsey Medlin
For dance major Rebekah O’Toole, dance is in her blood and deeply embedded within her soul. Inspired by her aunt, a professional ballerina, Rebekah started dancing fifteen years ago and has not stopped. Her passion for movement and the stage goes back to the time when her grandmother took her to see her aunt perform in the comedic ballet “Coppélia.” After the show, her aunt brought little Rebekah backstage. Right then and there, Rebekah fell in love with dance.
As Rebekah prepared to graduate from Peachtree City’s McIntosh High School, she knew she wanted to attend Kennesaw State University. The talented freshman says that she chose KSU because of the “incredible” dance program. She made becoming a KSU dance major her goal and “put everything into it.”
She experienced the dance department in summer of 2013, when she attended the College of the Arts’ Summer Arts Intensive, a weeklong program. There, she met Christen Weimer, Interim Assistant Professor of Dance. Weimer says she immediately saw “the honesty in Rebekah’s movements. It’s apparent how much she loves to dance.” She says her performance quality and commitment to improvement make her stand out.
Rebekah says she is grateful for the opportunities at KSU. As a member of the KSU Dance Company, Rebekah was chosen by Weimer to be a part of the professor’s piece, “Sablon,” in the fall dance concert, “Touchdown.” Weimer says she chose students who “had strong ballet backgrounds and were open to exploring their own individuality.” Weimer asked each girl to bring in a picture of a girl or woman to whom she related.
She remembers distinctly the drawing Rebekah chose: it was an image of “an eye with a girl crawling out of it.” This drawing and Rebekah’s words inspired Weimer. “Rebekah said that the eye was like the constraints in her life. The girl crawling out of the eye was how art and dance gave her the freedom to express herself,” says Weimer.
Rebekah’s ability to express herself freely is evident not only in her dance but also in her voice. The most influential lesson she has learned at KSU is that “you may have thoughts about what you want to do, but you should still keep an open mind.” She has heard so many stories about dancers helping out in other areas of the arts and, consequently, falling in love with a new passion. That inspires her, and she’s very determined. As the first in her family to attend college, she’s eager to prove her abilities to others, and to herself.
After Rebekah has soaked up all she can at Kennesaw State, she plans to “perform as long possible,” perhaps in New York or Chicago. However, she’s excited to see where the Atlanta arts scene is by the time she graduates. “Atlanta is growing so much, and I would love to be a part of it,” she says.