Dance Dream Chasing of Vivien Fergusson (College ’18)
Vivien Fergusson’s love affair with dance began, as so many do, when she was a little girl who dreamed of being the world’s first ballerina fairy princess. The fourth-year Miller Arts Scholar has been chasing her dreams ever since, excelling throughout her school years in her native Richmond and working with prestigious companies like the Richmond Ballet, among others, to hone her craft. In the summer of 2016, Fergusson took an important step on her artistic journey when she used her Third-Year Arts Award to travel to the renowned and highly intensive Bates Dance Festival in Maine. Knowing that the program would require her to be at her best, Fergusson applied for and received a Miller Arts Scholars mini grant to prepare her body and mind for the festival rigors to come, which would find her dancing up to six hours each day.
After spending much of her academic year taking courses in the Dance Minor program at UVA that focused on modern technique, Fergusson knew she needed to spend her preparation time on ballet and supplementary exercise classes meant to increase her strength, balance, stamina and flexibility. Her ballet classes with Rebecca Hodal at the Richmond Ballet helped to identify key postural and alignment difficulties, while offering her exercises she could take with her to help with flexibility and strength, among other areas. Meanwhile, she used her time and grant resources to take dance-based exercise and yoga classes that proved invaluable as she headed to the Maine woods for what proved to be an unforgettable artistic experience that introduced her to a dynamic artistic community of fellow students and leading dance artists from around the world.
The J. Sanford Miller Family Arts Scholars are part of a small group of undergraduate students who have increased access to resources in the arts at the University of Virginia, including personal introductions to its most distinguished arts faculty. Students in the program attend the Miller Arts Scholars Seminar, where they have the chance to learn from and interact with internationally-renowned arts faculty from each of the participating departments and hear talks on the latest developments on the arts scene. The spring semester features a discussion group and a focus on building each student’s individual arts portfolio while deeply engaging with some of the most gifted fellow artists on Grounds. Miller Arts Scholars benefit from priority enrollment, advising, and, as evidenced in the dance dream chasing of Vivien Fergusson, access to research support funds during the third and fourth year of study. The J. Sanford Miller Family Arts Scholars is overseen by the departments of Studio Art, Drama, Music, and Dance.