Mollie Friedlander ’14 has been dancing since she was nine years old. What she describes as “terrible feet and an imperfect sense of balance” has helped her find a creative outlet within an ambitious Bowdoin career. 

Actively involved in her high school dance teams—including lyrical, jazz, and hip hop—dance was her most important extracurricular activity before Bowdoin. She performed in multiple competitions, took ballet to keep up the basic techniques of dance, and practiced in a local studio.
 Friedlander said that when she made the high school teams she “felt accomplished...I soon found I was really passionate about it and wanted to continue.

“Coming to Bowdoin I made a conscious decision to prioritize academics, but I knew I wanted to dance. I loved it so much that I knew it wasn’t something I could just drop after high school,” she explained.

At Bowdoin, Friedlander is involved in Arabesque (Ballet) and Vague (Jazz/Lyrical), and has been the leader of Obvious (hip-hop) since the end of her sophomore year.  She also participated in Elemental Dance (jazz/modern) as a first year. 

However, her heavy dance involvement hasn’t stunted her academic growth—she is a pre-med double major in neuroscience and Spanish with a minor in chemistry. She also studied abroad in Argentina.  However, Friedlander admits it is difficult to factor dance into her academic life, and notes that her class schedule often conflicts with her dance committments.

In addition to her rigorous course load, Friedlander is a tutor for the Quantitative Reasoning Program, a study group leader for chemistry, a research mentor for two first years, and an admissions tour guide. 

However, Friedlander finds dance as a way of “de-stressing from all of it. It’s not an academic pursuit, which makes it more fun. You lose yourself in the music and leave your academic worries at the door.”

She noted that dance made her step outside of her comfort zone—namely becoming the leader of a hip hop group—but that is something she appreciates about dance.

“It’s always been a challenge and pushed me past my limits. I think that is mainly why I love it,” she said.

Because of her hectic schedule, Mollie never knows when inspiration for choreography for Obvious will strike.

“It usually happens on the stationary bike at the gym, or bopping along the radio while driving home,” she said. “To be honest, it’s all about the music. A song will get my feet tapping and I’ll run to a studio or start haphazardly dancing around my room.”

Friedlander is pleased that Bowdoin places an emphasis on a well-rounded educational experience.

“I dance twelve to eighteen hours a week and still do an honors project with the neurology department. I didn’t have to choose and only focus on one academic discipline,” she said.

After graduation, Friedlander is primarily focused on applying to MD-PhD programs to become a physician scientist. While she notes that this is a seven-to-nine-year commitment, there is one thing that will keep her grounded.

“Dance will be an does a great job of helping me putting aside academics and escaping high stress situations—even if for only a couple of hours each day.”

She acknowledged that it will not require the same time commitment that she put in during college, but she definitely wants to continue pursuing it.

“It isn’t something I want to pursue professionally, but it will continue to be an important of my life in some way, shape or form...even if it’s on the dance floor at my kid’s wedding.”