George Ellzey ’13 was at first unsure where he was going to fit in at Bowdoin, but he found a welcoming home in dance.
Unlike many arts students at Bowdoin, Ellzey inadvertently stumbled onstage. He did not even know he was a talented singer until his host family suggested that he audition for a cappella. Now he sings with the Meddiebempsters.
“I went to a high school that focused strictly on academics or athletics, so I didn’t have any creative outlets at all,” said Ellzey. “Coming to Bowdoin opened up a lot of opportunities for me.”
After a casual display of his moves one Pub Night, a dance group leader convinced him to get involved with the hip-hop dance group Obvious.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know anything about dance at all,’” he said. “My history of dance was just dancing in my room by myself.”
Now Ellzey is the leader of Obvious, which will be performing at the Asian Student Association Fashion Show and the student group show this semester.
Ellzey began taking dance courses his junior year, and now they are an integral part of his coursework. He is also dancing in senior Natalie Johnson’s independent study.
“All the dance classes I’ve taken so far have been totally new for me,” he said. “To be in classes with people who are very talented and to hear people say ‘you’re a great dancer’ still blows my mind.”
Even though dance is still a new adventure for Ellzey, he says it has already had a huge impact on his life.
“It’s sort of like I’m a late starter but all these great opportunities have been happening,” said Ellzey. “I’ve experienced so much and received a lot of encouragement and praise from my peers and the faculty.”
Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance Charlotte Griffin has been one of the major factors in furthering Ellzey’s interest in dance.
Professor Griffin approached Ellzey after an Afro-Modern class performance and asked him if he was going to take her modern dance class. While Griffin initially intimidated Ellzey, he has come to consider her a mentor.
“She’s definitely been a pivotal person in my dance career, because she’s sort of taken me under her wing,” said Ellzey. “Without her I probably wouldn’t be dancing so much now, or have the passion to dance. She sparked a flame.”
Ellzey is now taking his fourth class with Griffin this spring.
He is an interdisciplinary major in theater and English, and says the combination of his majors and his dancing have given him more confidence over the years.
“Coming into Bowdoin, I was very shy and introverted; a lot of people don’t know that I felt sort of out of place,” he said. “There has to be an amount of confidence when you step onto the stage or when you say a line.”
Ellzey is one of the few male dancers at Bowdoin, and sometimes finds it a difficult situation.
“It would be nice to see other male dancers on campus, especially in technique classes,” he said. “For someone who recently started dancing, I would look to my classmates to see what they’re doing, but it’s hard when it’s a field with all girls.”
Since there are so few male dancers, one of Ellzey’s missions as a dancer is to encourage more men to join.
“I think a lot of guys are scared to dance because of some type of societal pressures or thinking they can’t dance,” he said. “I feel like everyone has the ability to dance.”
Ellzey believes that everyone has something to give to and take away from the arts.
“I just want more dancers and to foster that culture,” he said.
Ellzey does not have any concrete plans for after graduation, but he knows he is on the right track. He is currently considering a career in entertainment, possibly at talent agencies or television.
“I’m unsure, but I’m excited for the future,” he said. “I’m staying positive. Everything will work out.”