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2002 - 2003 University Scholar
Mentor: Kelly Drummond Cawthon
College of Fine Arts
Tara Burns pursued majors in physics, computer science and art before she submitted to
the calling to be a dancer. "I didn't choose to dance, it chose me," she says. "I tried to
get away from it and have a more lucrative major that might make me some money
when I graduate. But nothing is more demanding than dance, and I think I liked the
demand. I just couldn't get away from it, it came looking for me."
Born in Leesburg, Florida, Tara started dancing almost
as soon as she could walk. She first performed in front
of an audience at age five, singing the Shirley Temple
classic "On the Good Ship Lollipop." "I danced when I
Singer because it was my mother's dream to take
i: l r she says. "So she had me take ballet at a very
.i but I decided to quit around the age of 11
-i'. r tart dancing again until I was 15. That is
,1.. first took modern dance and though I loved it, I
wasn't sure it was what I really wanted to do."
After Tara graduated from Eustis High School in 1998, she became a physics major at
Florida State University but took dance classes on the side. She transferred to the
University of Central Florida, where she majored in computer science. "I couldn't handle
not dancing," she says. "So I also took dance classes at Valencia Community College
while taking computer science classes at UCF. Still not satisfied, I changed my major at
UCF to art and continued to take classes at VCC. At the end of the year, I was a dance
major at VCC and an art major at UCF, both being very demanding and time consuming
majors. After trying to do it all, I decided that I had to choose."
Tara realized she couldn't get away from her desire to dance, so she transferred to UF in
fall 2001 and became very active in the Department of Theatre and Dance. In the past
two years alone, she has performed in more than 15 shows, including this spring's Miss
Julie, Crash Test and Freefall. She says she enjoys all types of dance and is trained in
ballet, jazz, contemporary and modern dance. "I will try my hand at anything," she says.
"But I mostly enjoy very physical, acrobatic modern dance."
As a USP scholar, Tara researched how today's advanced technology can be applied to
dance. She and her mentor, Kelly Drummond Cawthon, observed dance through the eye
of a video camera lens at venues in Florida, New Orleans and New York City. "We
experimented with using video to show the differences between a normal, flat view of the
dancers and viewing them from angles you wouldn't normally see, like behind the scenes
at rehearsals, to show more depth and dimension."
This summer, Tara is touring the
country, participating in the
American Dance Festival and The
People's Touring Project. She will be
back in Gainesville in early August
to perform Miss Julie at UF, before
taking the show to Edinburg,
Scotland in mid-August to
participate in the Edinburg Fringe
Tara will graduate in December
2003 with a BFA in dance and hopes
to have her own dance company one
day. "The future is a little hazy, but
I plan to move out of Florida to
pursue dance in whatever way is
available to me," she says. "I have
yet to find anything that demands
more of me as a person."
If you would like to see Tara dance, she will be performing in Miss Julie at UF's Constans
Theatre on August 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8-12 and can be purchased through
the University Box Office at 392-1653.
Back to the Journal of Undergraduate Research
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