Meredith Lyons in the CMU dance studio
Meredith Lyons in the CMU dance studio


Dancing on the Ceiling

There are two things you can always count on - the floor and yourself.

That is among the things Assistant Professor of Dance Meredith Lyons said she has learned performing all around the world and teaching at numerous institutions in the U.S.

Before any performance, Lyons reclines on the studio or stage floor and looks up.

“I look at the ceiling and I am reminded that the floor is always there. The dance studio floor is all over the world, so even if you don’t speak the language, you do speak a universal language,” said Lyons. “While dance can seem really difficult and hard, and I know that from teaching and doing and practicing, it is the simplest thing… You don’t need anything; you only need you.”

Lyons came to CMU a short seven months ago but has been teaching dance for more than 15 years and dancing for 30+ years.  “I love the space that it creates, I love the collaboration together within faculty and the opportunity to give back to the community in the performances.”

One of Lyons' strengths lies in her ability to see the connections between the physical body, the sense of purpose and the sense of performance for each dancer. She said she uses a teaching approach she hopes develops her students understanding of the simplicity of their art and their physical bodies in space.

“When I teach students in higher education, I like to challenge them to physically feel and see the way in which the body moves anatomically,” Lyons said.

There are natural existing gaps found in a group of students with different dance backgrounds so Lyons breaks everything down to the basics for her students to diminish these gaps.

“Each student has strengths and weaknesses and I try to get them on the same playing field in terms of knowing at least what their anatomy is doing,” she said.

Coming from the East Coast, Lyons said she is excited to share her outside perspectives with students. She wants to build a connective community by getting students involved in networks that may lead them to future jobs and help them understand they “can live anywhere but still be connected.”

Lyons builds these connections for students by getting them involved with training programs like the Bates Dance Festival, which she formerly ran. Lyons is also bringing in two guest instructors this semester, Courtney Jones and Peter DiMuro, to choreograph pieces for the Spring into Dance concert, which Lyons is directing.

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