Graduate Profile: Jacki Olson
Jacki Olson ’11 was recently welcomed with open arms as an apprentice at Surfscape Contemporary Dance Theatre, a company co-founded by fellow alumna Kristin Bender-Polizzi ’95.
“Surfscape is more than a dance company—it’s a family,” says Olson. “I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to pursue my passion with such an awesome group of amazingly talented dancers and directors. I am lucky to be able to call them my friends.”
While at Alma College, Olson double majored in dance and integrative physiology and health science while honing the technical dance skills she now uses at Surfscape. Because the professors at Alma are incredibly artistic and innovative, she says she enjoyed the dance program.
“Alma definitely prepared me, and without the connection the College has with Surfscape, I’m not sure I would have auditioned for the company,” she says. “Leaving Michigan for Florida is probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done!”
It was almost as scary as having surgery on her hip during her junior year. Not only was Olson required to take a leave of absence in order to recover properly, she says she was told to prepare herself never to dance again.
“I danced right up until a few days before the surgery,” she says. “The last student choreographers’ concert was such a reality check for me. I was absolutely terrified because dancing has defined me as an individual from such a young age.”
Recovery brought more opportunity. In addition to touring, training and performing extensively, Olson danced in Miley Cyrus’ music video, “Who Owns My Heart.”
“Dancing allows you to escape from reality and share a piece of who you are simply through movement,” she says. “I especially love performing on a stage in front of an audience. It’s a thrilling and exciting feeling that will never get old.”