Photo by Bruce Gilbert
For Anica Scott-Garrell, the first member of her immediate family to graduate from college, there was never a question about her pursuing a baccalaureate degree. It was simply a matter of finding a school that would provide a solid liberal arts education and an opportunity to achieve her dream of dancing professionally.
Her mother, Lorraine Garrell, encouraged her career in dance and pushed her to excel academically and in the arts. But the path hasn’t been an easy one. The Boston native paid her way through college with financial aid, work-study and a part-time real estate job. During her senior year, she received a $15,000 Layton Foundation Scholarship, which went a long way to helping her complete her studies.
“I was given a lot,” Scott-Garrell said of her years at Fordham. “I really do plan to take it as far as I can and to give back.”
Scott-Garrell, who was 5 when she started dancing at the Boston Ballet School, said she hopes to use her talents to inspire audiences and demonstrate that dance can be a valuable tool for personal growth.
“People are born with some sort of passion. Many feel that artistic passions are not important to human development, but they are so important,” said Scott-Garrell, 22, who will graduate from the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. in dance program. “As new doors open for me, I hope to bring this message to people.”
Thanks to the versatile Ailey School training, Scott-Garrell has mastered a variety of techniques, from jazz to classical ballet to West African dance. Fordham courses in anatomy, art and ethics, black feminism, and art history have complemented her training in the studio.
A partnership between Fordham University and the Ailey School, the official school of the world-famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, gives students like Scott-Garrell the chance to pursue a career in dance while offering them a range of liberal arts classes. Eighty-five percent of the program’s graduates land jobs with professional dance companies.
“The liberal arts program that they have [at Fordham] is in depth and I felt that I would be getting a full education while also being able to study dance in a concentrated way,” said Scott-Garrell, whose high-school dance teacher recommended Fordham to her. “I feel like I’m at a point now that I’m a stronger, more well-rounded person because I’ve been able to study so many things.”
Scott-Garrell recently auditioned for a variety of shows, including The Lion King, Movin’ Out and the national tour of Cats. She also spent her senior year as an apprentice with Complexions, a contemporary ballet company, where she learned from the professional troupe while earning college credit. Earlier this month, she performed with the troupe at New York’s Joyce Theater. She plans to continue her apprenticeship after graduation.
“She’s been a fabulous student,” said Ana Marie Forsythe, co-director of the Fordham/Ailey B.F.A. program, who has taught Scott-Garrell for the last four years.
“Those of us in the dance world will be hearing about her and seeing her wonderful work.”