Heidi Henderson, Assistant Professor of Dance, is one of the most fascinating human beings I have met. You may have seen her wandering around campus with her cat eyes glasses, an outfit consisting of at least three different patterns and seven different colors, and bright orange Converse sneakers, Here is an interview of the lovely Professor Henderson that will give you a glimpse of the “epicness” that I, and the rest of the dance department, am so lucky to be exposed to on a day-to-day basis.
What’s your history? What events have shaped you and molded you to be the Heidi Henderson we see today?
I found dance in college at age 19. I discovered how to really work while trying to catch up to folks who had been dancing since they were three. I learned to love effort. I am still learning every time I do this thing.
How long have you been here at Conn?
What do you like most about the college and working here?
I like the atmosphere of engaged learning. I love the notion that students take my experimental class precisely because they have heard that it is weird and challenging. I love the students that take the class to satisfy a Gen Ed requirement and then come to embrace (literally) each other and play as a creative process. I also love the students who dare to dance and to make art in this world, which more often prizes activities and careers that are safer.
Have you always wanted to be a professor?
For a long time, I was a working dancer and that was completely satisfying. I taught many high energy master classes on tours all over the country and the world. After a while, I wanted some feeling of longevity in my teaching life. I wanted to stay with the students for more than two rocking hours and see that the lessons were sinking in more deeply, to witness change over time.
What do you love most about teaching?
I love seeing expressions of amazement on a student’s face when she or he discovers something through movement, touch and experience, or seeing a community form through the experience of moving together, or seeing two male team players end a contact improvisation class holding hands. I love dancing to the beautiful music of Richard Schenk. I love figuring out again and again how to stand on my feet.
Let’s say because of some bizarre series of events the teaching profession becomes extinct, if you could choose any profession in the world what would your new one be?
I have more jobs than teaching: making dances, making costumes, writing, being a mother, walking the dog, and planting pansies in pots outside the house today. If all of those jobs become extinct, I would like to go back to painting and I would like to learn to sing.
What’s your life like outside of Conn Coll?
I have two beautiful children, one naughty dog, and one lovely husband. (The adjectives may be switched according to the day.)
What’s a fun fact about you that your students would be surprised to learn?
If there is anything left that students do not know about me, I would be very surprised.
What’s your favorite hobby?
Besides dancing? Contact improvisation, oops, that is dancing… skiing, hiking, sewing, baking…
What are the three things that you cannot live without?
Hugs, chocolate, sunshine.
What’s your favorite pick me up activity when you are just having a not so great day?
Hugging, chocolate, sunshine, breathing, dancing, talking with Aimee, the dance department assistant.
What is the greatest thing you have ever done, so far?
Each time I am completely present in “the small dance,” a standing position of complete neutrality where the body is simply directed by the pulls of gravity, it feels like the greatest thing.
Name one goal you have for the future.
Make a dance.
Any words of advice you would like to share with Conn Coll students?
Stay open, find time to dance, eat the French fries at Mr. Gs., keep in touch after you leave because there is always more advice. •