By Kat Saunders
Alex Lindemann can’t dance anymore, yet she is one of the most recognizable members of the student run Performing Arts Club.
The Mary Washington junior had multiple surgeries on her ankles, beginning in high school. She’s ripped out three ligaments. Both of her ankles roll and sprain easily, sometimes she wraps them with duct tape for support.
Despite the fact that she can’t dance as much as she would like to, she regularly choreographs pieces for PAC and the University Dance Team.
“I love choreographing. It never stops with me,” Lindemann said. “A piece can never really be done, in my mind. You can keep pushing it and keep reworking it”
Lindemann has choreographed 10 pieces for PAC in the past five years, including two pieces for the upcoming show in April.
A dancer since age seven, she is trained in ballet. As she grew older, however, her ankles began to develop problems. Her sophomore year of high school, she underwent her first surgery,
“I inherited weak ankles from my father, and several severe ankle sprains stretched the ligaments to a point where they were so loose a surgical procedure was done to shorten them,” Lindemann said.
The surgery made wearing toe shoes painful and dancing en pointe impossible. Unable to continue with classical ballet, she joined her high school dance team and learned hip hop dancing.
She also attended the Governor’s School during a summer at the University of Richmond, where she received some lessons in choreography.
Her first choreography assignment at the Governor’s School was to dance as a well known character.
She chose Oliver Twist, and learned an important lesson about dance and choreography.
“I did this silly type of dance,” she recalled. “The professor laughed and me and said ‘You’re miming. You’re not dancing.’ I learned how to use movement as a medium expression. There are some lessons I’ll keep with me always.”
In college, she joined PAC, the student organized dance club.
PAC offers free dance classes and puts together two student organized dance shows a year. Through the club, she gained more dance experience and begin arranging dances for the shows.
Unfortunately, during her second year at UMW, Lindemann underwent her second surgery. Three of the ligaments in her right ankle had torn. Despite physical therapy, her ankles were too weakened to continue dancing intensively.
She began wrapping her ankles with duct tape, stronger and more supportive than bandages, allowing her to point her toes.
Rather than risk further injury now, she does low impact dancing, which includes “marking,” planning steps in a choreographed piece.
“I can’t dance anymore. Choreography is my art. It’s my way to dance. I’m constantly thinking about it,” she said.
Lindemann says her dances are inspired by everything – listing emotion, nature and accentuating her dancers’ personal strengths.
“Sometimes it’s just the exploration of movement itself. Trying to make things flow and never having a stopping point…that’s something I really try to achieve,” Lindemann said.
One of her new dances, a modern piece set to the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” score, was inspired by the movements of running gazelles. It will be featured as the Senior Piece at the April 5 PAC show.
Lindemann works at the Virginia Dance Company in northern Virginia, assisting at a friend’s studio.
She would like to continue her dance education, although no major exists at Mary Washington, and few schools have dance study or choreography classes that don’t require intensive and regular dancing.
Still, Lindemann plans to keep dance in her future.
“I’ll always do this somehow,” she said. “No matter how much duct tape I need.”