Inspiring Through Modern Dance

Dance is the art of the body movement and some might say its body poetry. German philosopher and poet Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”

Julia Felker a dance instructor at California Lutheran University has been teaching ballet and modern dance, since fall of 2001. Felker has been performing, choreographing and mostly teaching dance for more then 35 years.

“I would say most of the time I am definitely feeling gratitude. Over all I would say the fact that I’ve been able to sustain myself by being a dance teacher, choreographer, and performer have been a huge blessing and a huge joy,” Felker said.

Felker said, when she was growing up, she was the girl dancing to Nutcracker music, as early as two-years-old. Felker said, her parents didn’t put her in dance classes until she was about eight-years-old.

“I then started taking ballet, and then I started getting better, obviously the more classes I took but then my mom didn’t have the money to have me take [ballet] more than twice a week.” Felker said. “So I couldn’t get better as I should’ve at the point and time.”

Felker wanted to be a professional dancer but Felker said if she had more ballet training it’s possible she could’ve became a professional ballet dancer. Felker said, then she started pursuing modern dancing passionately because the technique was strong, a lot of what she was doing with modern dance fed her heart and satisfied her.


“Honestly once I found modern dance, and I loved musical theatre as well I realized that most likely the odds of me getting into a hardcore ballet company was wasn’t as good. Who was to say what would happened,” Felker said.

Felker has choreographed about 30 musicals and has taught modern dance. Felker said each of her dances she performed or choreographed holds a special place in her heart, there’s no favorite, but rather all the dances mean something to her. Felker said dancing has helped her be aware of nutrition and fitness.

Felker said when growing up she also had a love for art, she said she specifically had a passion for drawing and painting. By the time she was in college she found herself in a dilemma between dance and art. But she finally settled on dance because it would be a lot harder to pursue dance at an older age.

After high school Felker said, she went to The University of Redlands and then to pursue dance there as well as at University of California at Riverside because they have a really good program. Felker also went to California Institute of Arts, after that she ended up teaching at the University of Redlands. Felker said her daughter is a professional dancer, who lives in New York City and travels internationally for her performances. And is a performer for Momix, a dance company.

“I brought her to classes I was teaching when she was three, she would just sit and watch and pretty soon she was on the side lines dancing with us. Soon she started taking the classes I was teaching. So she spent hundreds of hours in a dance studio when she was little.” Felker said. “ My son took dance when he was younger, but he had a natural aptitude also. He danced until he was 15 –years old.”

Kaitlyn Horpedahl, a senior at Cal Lutheran and art major said she took Felker’s ballet class her freshman year and is currently taking her modern dance class this semester. She said, she’s known Felker for four years.

“She’s a very loving, energetic person. She really gets invested in the students. She’s very talkative.” Horpedahl said. “She really just thinks as all of us as her friends.”

Horpedahl said, Felker loves what she does and she really encourages all of her students to do the same. Horpedahl said, Felker tells her students to find something they want to do and stick to it and know that you can succeed.

“We spend a lot of time talking about what I’m going to do after college and just about what kind of connections I would need. She’s very willing to help in whatever way she can,” Horpedahl said.

Felker said, she also has other interests besides dance and art. She enjoys gardening as well as being involved in environmental groups.

Felker said she does have advice for people who desire a career in dance and theatre.

“Take as much as you can in terms of training, seek out places that are qualified, get yourself exposed to good technique, and dedicate yourself to that.” Felker said. “Also have fun with it and know there’s a lot you can do in the world of dance, it’s not just about being the dancer on the stage.”


Wais Niazi
Staff Writer
Published May 6th, 2015