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I Am Elon with Cassandra Tumasz ’18

The dance performance and dance science double major loves instilling a love for dance in young students.

As she watched a performance of “The Nutcracker” at age 5, Cassandra Tumasz ’18 became enthralled by dance. “I love the snow, the music, the technical elements. To me, ballet is the epitome of grace and beauty.” She quickly began dance classes, eventually advancing to 10 classes a week by the end of high school. She was certain that she wanted to be a professional dancer.

Now in her final year at Elon, Cassandra is majoring in dance performance, pairing it with a second major in dance science, a field she plans to pursue once dancing professionally becomes physically impossible. “It’s the perfect major because in addition to dance, I’m drawn to science and finding ways to better my dancing.” Her Lumen Prize research is investigating how types of imaging affect dancers’ stress levels and performance. She will use the data she collects to choreograph three dance pieces that illustrate her findings.

Cassandra says the most influential course she’s had at Elon isn’t a dance class, but rather a Winter Term religion course called “Animals and Religion: Do All Dogs Go To Heaven?” It challenged her to re-examine her cultural perspective on animals and eventually inspired her to become a vegan, consuming no animal products. She says it’s not only changed her diet and understanding of cooking and flavors but also led her to embrace her own values, rather than following those around her. 

When she is not in class or studying, Cassandra teaches dance and gymnastics classes at a small studio in Gibsonville, North Carolina. She sees herself in the young performers. “I have one student whose eyes just light up when it’s time for ballet class. She’s so motivated and eager, illustrating that dance instruction goes beyond movement,” Cassandra says. “It fosters determination, persistence and discipline. I love seeing students so willing to put in the work.”

Cassandra is Elon, and one of the many stories that are part of our “I Am Elon” series.

Keren Rivas,
2/8/2018 8:40 AM