Major: Theatre and Dance
Abby Allison has been recommended as an Outstanding Graduate for the College of Liberal Arts by her mentor Debbie Swann. Most notably, her tenacity in spite of the pandemic, general optimism, and ability to perform with great talent have made Abby a true leader in the Theatre and Dance department. Learn more about Abby’s story below:
1. Why did you choose to study at CSU?
“I choose to study as CSU because the first interaction I had when I came here was filled with excitement and passion. My future mentor, Rocky, served as my guide for visit and audition day for theatre and brought so much positivity and confidence in a day that was filled with nerves. CSU wasn’t initially my first choice, but after meeting students, staff, and faculty who were so passionate about their community at CSU and wanted to see me succeed, I felt like I had found the place where I fit in. Before I was even a student here, they wanted to get me involved and were welcoming of my urge to join KDIA and work-study.”
2. How has your background shaped your experience here at CSU, and what advice would you give to students of similar identities?
“Growing up, I wasn’t really able to do theatre, and even though I knew from a young age that acting was where I wanted to go in life, I was only ever known as the dancer. It felt really isolating to be placed in a box that didn’t fully define me and to be locked away from a community that didn’t see me as one of them. But at the same time, I didn’t want to forfeit dance to be able to afford theatre. It was comforting to come to CSU and be accepted in the program as an performer, not just a dancer. Not having as much experience in the field as my peers motivated me to work harder. I found great counsel with Noah Racey, who like me, started as a dancer before going into theatre and ultimately becoming a triple threat. His life advise helped reassure me that I didn’t have to be confined to a label. I think that can be great advice for any student. We are not defined by labels, but by the dedication to the things we love. There is always someone who understands you and wants to support you.”
3. What accomplishments from your educational career at CSU are you most proud of? How were you able to accomplish those things?
“She Kills Monsters is a play that I have spent the last two years of my life connecting with. We started it before the pandemic and finally finished it this semester. The experience was one of my greatest accomplishments. As a story about two sisters who never really knew each other, it hit me really hard. It was a relationship I was too in tune with and a story that was really hard to tell. It took an emotional toll on me and was very hard to separate the character from myself. As an actor, I want to use my experience to inform how the character may react, but it’s a fine line between being inspired by myself, and being myself. One of the hardest things in life is being vulnerable and crying in front of a full audience every night and one way I was able to create consistency in it was by thinking of my own sister. As her wedding approached, it sat in the back of my head how much I had missed out with her. I felt the same regret that Agnes did. Feeling the catharsis of expressing those emotions created an unbreakable bond with the production. But what hit me even harder was how many people felt the same way. I didn’t even really think about how many other people related to losing the relationship with their siblings until after the show had opened. The words ‘thank you for telling this story’ are words that will drive me for the rest of my career.”
4. What has been the most challenging aspect of your educational career so far? How have you overcome those difficulties?
“The hardest part of my education was never something I expected to face: loss of passion. Over the past two years, the hardships of the world and internal barriers have creeped inside me. I found myself without love for dance, for learning, for work, for social activities. I felt like my own anxieties had trapped me and left me unable to be who I thought I was. And I suppose in reality I was depressed (or perhaps, am depressed). I was no longer finding things that sparked joy in my life and felt like my body wasn’t a reflection of me anymore. I could not dress the way I wanted, my body did not dance the way it used to. I felt scared to go into the world feeling like I had declined. While it is hard to say that I have overcome mental illness, I know that it is not what will stop me. I feared I could not dance professionally anymore because I could not kick my leg as high anymore, but I am reminded that dance is not about the way I look, but the way I feel. I refuse to spend my career criticizing myself for things as irrelevant as the approval of others. What I can do is search for that joy. I am excited for change. I am excited to rediscover a love for dance that is because of passion.”
5. What are your post-graduation plans and goals?
“After graduation, I am planning on working as a performer on cruise ships! While I don’t know what kind of performing it may be, I hope to be able to do it all. I want to sing, dance, and act, things I haven’t been able to do since Cabaret in 2020. I am excited for a change in life, to dance styles I have never done before, and go places I have never seen.”