Paige Kliewer-McClellan

PaigeTell us a little bit about your background.

I began my love affair with movement in utero; I danced my way into the world on the windy plains of Kansas, where I started my formal training at age 6. I studied a variety of disciplines, from ballet to belly dance, and earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wichita State University in 2016. I taught dance technique to a wide age range for over nine years, with special focus on children. I am passionate about early education, the healing power of movement, and glitter!

What drew you to this program?

Though I will always love dance technique, I began to feel limited in my role as an educator. I was increasingly aware of the healing and transformative capacities of movement in my own movement experiences, and wanted to share that with everyone I could possibly share it with. Combining this with my deep empathy and passion for helping others led me to research dance/movement therapy—and when I did, the clouds parted, the cherubs sang, and I knew I had found my calling. 

What drew you to Sarah Lawrence?

Sarah Lawrence College had been my dream since undergrad; though I wasn't able to attend at that time, when I made the choice to pursue a graduate degree, there was no other option for me. From the first moment I reached out to the school, I have received support, guidance, and care. The small class sizes and incredible faculty allow for the best possible learning experience. I'm so happy I chose Sarah Lawrence!

What has been your favorite class? And why?

I have truly and honestly loved all of my classes, so it's difficult to choose a favorite. However, “Human Growth and Development” with the Dance/Movement Therapy program's director, Elise Risher, was a particular highlight for me, as it combined two of my major interests: movement and early learning. Elise presented the sometimes daunting (neuroscience, anyone?) information in a clear and digestible way, and encouraged us to ask questions and follow what piqued our interest. I learned so much in this class, and I enjoyed every moment of it. 

Do you have a favorite faculty member or guest artist that you have worked with?

Working with Sue Orkand has been completely magical for me. She inspires me to dig deeper into my own self-learning and reflection and to trust the process and myself. I feel incredibly lucky to be learning from her. 

How would you describe the program to someone who is still searching for a program?

To me, this program has felt like home. Even in the midst of a global pandemic that has kept us physically separate, I have felt such a sense of community and connection with my cohort and the faculty. The work we do is academically and emotionally taxing—and it is absolutely worth it. You are not alone in this program. You are seen and heard, and all that is expected of you is returned tenfold by the empathetic and hard-working teachers. I cannot imagine a better environment in which to study the beautiful interplay between movement and healing that is dance/movement therapy. 

How would you describe graduate student campus culture and community?

Although COVID-19 has forced most graduate activities to take place virtually, I have had a multitude of opportunities to connect with other graduate students throughout the semester. Sarah Lawrence grad students are welcoming and open, and connections can be made and community experienced daily, even through a simple Zoom study session. 

Where do you like to study on campus?

There's a spot in the beautiful Caldwell Dance Studio where the sun beams through the large windows in the morning and early afternoon. That was my spot during “Movement Observation 1” every Monday. Magical. 

What campus resources do you utilize most?

As an avid reader and lover of physical books, I love the library! 

What are you reading right now?

I'm always reading two books: one for sheer pleasure and one for self-expansion. Currently, I'm reading The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. Highly recommend both! 

Where do you see yourself in three years?

Physically, absolutely anywhere. I'll go where I'm most needed. Ideally, working with at-risk children and young adults, perhaps through a school or nonprofit, unlocking the potential of the moving body. Since I'm a first-year student, I'm trying not to narrow my focus too much; dance/movement therapy has so many incredible and necessary applications. One thing I do know is that glitter will be present. 

Are you in an internship, placement, or campus job? Tell us about that.

I just started working in the Graduate Admissions Office for the Dance/Movement Therapy Program. I'm absolutely thrilled to get to share my passion and enthusiasm for the program and the school with prospective students! 

What extracurricular activities do you engage in?

Reading voraciously, making collages out of old magazines and (of course) glitter, yoga, and spending as much time as possible with my sweet little 4-month-old nephew. 

What motivates you?

I love quotes (I use them at the beginning of nearly all my papers), so I'll share one of my favorites by Emily Dickinson: "If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain." I am motivated by the desire to be the best possible version of myself that I can be, in order to help as many people as I can. And hopefully, in the end, to leave the world a bit better than I found it.