When Genevieve Mifflin ’14 quit gymnastics at age 8, her parents worried that she would drop extracurricular activities altogether. Yet Mifflin concentrated her energies in dance, which she had started at age 2 and now committed to with a greater passion.
“My mother was a dancer, so my sisters and I have all done dance,” Mifflin said. “But I’m the one who stuck with it.”
An anthropology major and theater minor with a dance concentration, Mifflin is currently choreographing a one-woman piece as her independent study in theater. She danced throughout middle and high school and joined the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble her freshman year.
Mifflin has trained in disciplines ranging from jazz to hip-hop and considers modern dance her specialty. She said that she loves dance for its physical challenge, which lets her take her mind off other things and concentrate on her movement.
“I’ve always had a really active mind,” she said. “I’m constantly over-thinking and analyzing, and it’s exhausting. But when I’m moving, I’m not thinking about anything but moving.”
Ford Evans, an adjunct theater professor and the former director of DDE, said that Mifflin has a great ability to dance “in the moment.” She thinks deeply about an artist’s responsibility to create certain types of art, he said.
“She really gets it,” Evans said. “She’s always open to new material and assimilating a lot of material and ideas,” he said.
Mifflin said she also enjoys the relationships she has fostered throughout her career with older dancers and instructors, who have become her close friends and role models. She remains close to dancers and teachers from high school, she said.
Dance has allowed Mifflin to challenge herself intellectually, as she has worked on pieces that present the audience with social and political themes and those that combine the performing art with spoken word. Anne Munger ’13, who danced with Mifflin in high school and at Dartmouth, recalled Mifflin performing such a piece as a high school senior.
“She did the most beautiful solo in this long, flowing maroon dress to a combination of spoken word and music,” Munger said. “To me, it was revolutionary. I had never seen a dancer use language to motivate and inform movement quite like she did.”
The piece inspired a dance that the two co-choreographed at Dartmouth called “Fourth,” which tried to incorporate elements of poetry like sentence structure and rhythm into dance. Members of the ensemble performed “Fourth” late last May.
Mifflin’s involvement in dance has also led her to take on other commitments on campus. Her involvement in the ensemble’s 2011 performance of “Undue Influence,” a work that drew attention to sexual violence at Dartmouth, resonated with her so deeply that she trained to become a Sexual Assault Peer Advisor.
The project demonstrated dance’s potential to describe and communicate difficult subjects, which she is interested in pursuing further in the future, she said.
“Dartmouth has taught me a lot not only about myself, but also about how to choreograph, how to be a performer, what you can do with your body and what you can socially comment on,” Mifflin said.
Mifflin continues to be inspired by the power of dance and considers teaching performing arts after college.
“I like the marriage of art and education and what you can bring to people through those mediums,” Mifflin said.
The Final Word with Genevieve Mifflin ’14
If I could sit down to dinner with anyone, I would choose: Maya Angelou.
The most played song on my iPod is: “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” by Arcade Fire.
The one talent I wish I had is: the ability to cook like my mom.