Energetic, bubbly and inspiringly passionate, Marielys Burgos-Melendez is intent on taking everything The College at Brockport has to offer and more. This mover is aspiring to learn more in her time as a Graduate Diversity Fellow than just a few moves. Focusing on the balance between the theory and practice of dance, she has discovered Brockport’s opportunities and faculty are helping her to discover her artistic voice and reach her academic goals.
Born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, and a resident of San Juan, Puerto Rico Marielys is studying in the Department of Dance. Prior to arriving at Brockport, she earned her undergraduate degree as a double major in psychology and sociology from the University of Puerto Rico. After graduation, she began working as a domestic violence counselor when she realized she wasn’t sure if it was the right path for her. Pondering her options for months, it was a memory brought up in a moment of reflection that changed her life’s course. This memory was of herself as a young girl dancing. The memory was so vivid that she was able recount the physical sensations. The art of dance became her focus as she jumped head first into the discipline for the first time at the age of 24.
Overcoming adversity is something Marielys is not a stranger too. When she was just 13 years old she was diagnosed with a life threatening sickness. After multiple surgeries she was able to pursue a future. It was this experience, Marielys explains, that gave her the ability to be more aware of her context and both the opportunities she had and those she didn’t.
As Marielys began her search for the right school to start her career in dance, she was looking for a program that would not only challenge her physically but intellectually. A recommendation was all it took for her to consider The College at Brockport. After realizing that the program encourages dance from an interdisciplinary perspective Marielys made the choice to give the small town college in upstate New York a chance.
Admittedly a city girl at heart, Marielys is slowly becoming a part of this small but warm community each day through the multitudes of on- and off-campus activities in which she’s become involved. Whether it is participating in the Women and Gender Student Organization, or doing anything and everything she can in the Department of Dance, Brockport has kept her busy. She has been a writer for the department’s newsletter, Friends of Brockport Dance, a coordinator of events, and a part of the production crew for many performances. All of these extracurricular activities are helping Marielys to follow her passions.
Currently, she is excited about two projects that have been in the works since the fall semester. The first is a collaborative effort entitled “(Re)Framing Fragmentation” which observes and re-conceptualizes the fragmentation of women’s bodies through dance and multimedia arts. The second is a collaboration with graduate student Yuko Hashimoto, “Integrating Cultural Diversity in Dance Pedagogy.” The research work aims to “create movement based on cultural diversity,” through the use of “language, memories of places, and sensations that evoke the place of origin.” Marielys also is looking forward to her summer internship in Athens, Greece, where she will spend an intensive four weeks focusing on the theory and practice of dance, while learning the methodology of artistic research. She has recently become the recipient of The Dawn and Jacques Lipson, MD Award in Performing Arts. The award will help finance a portion of her summer study. All of these opportunities found and cultivated at Brockport are helping Marielys to “create a dialogue between the theoretical and performative aspects of dance,” which as she explains, “validates the knowledge that comes from, and through the body.”
“It is their knowledge and ambition that sponsors the platform for students to express themselves.” Says Marielys, it is the Department of Dance’s professors and faculty that have made the biggest impact on her graduate experience. Their commitment to dance and to their students creates a safe environment for the expression of vulnerability. The guidance she has received from Professor Maura Keefe, department chair, and Assistant Professor Juanita Suárez has been pivotal in her academic career. With the ultimate goal of earning her PhD in performance studies, multimedia studies, or dance it is the continued guidance received from these faculty members and the College that has supported Marielys’ academic success.
Although Marielys has only been at Brockport for a short while, she is excited to truly become part of the campus and is open to all of the opportunities the College presents her with. The time she has spent so far at the College has helped her to explore her creativity while challenging herself through movement and academics. It is also Brockport’s dedication to “appreciated, respected and encouraged” diversity that has furthered her graduate experience. For Marielys Burgos-Melendez, The College at Brockport has given her the confidence to say, “I am where I have to be.”