MAGNIFYING, No. 9: Melonie Buchanan Murray

February 06 2018

by Noelle Sharp

For this episode of MAGNIFYING we spoke with Associate Professor, Ballet Program Coordinator and Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Dance Melonie Buchanan Murray. Our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts is diverse and wide spread. With the goal of gaining a deeper knowledge and awareness of the people within our community, we bring you MAGNIFYING, a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff.

Tell us about yourself: Name, where you are from, what you do and how you got into in your field of work.
Melonie Buchanan Murray. I grew up in Texas, and have lived in Kansas, California, Colorado, and now Utah. I started taking formal dance lessons (ballet, tap, and jazz) at the age of seven and just never stopped! I remember feeling incredibly excited when I realized that I could study dance in college. So, I pursued a bachelor’s degree earning a BFA in Ballet. I then danced professionally for several years working in many genres-- a ballet company, a modern dance company, cruise ships, musicals, and I was even was a Radio City Rockette. I always had a passion for dance in higher education, so after my performance career, I attended graduate school at the University of California, Irvine where I deepened my understanding of, and connection to, dance. From there, I was hired as a faculty member at Colorado Mesa University where I directed the dance program for nine years. Given my addiction to being a life-long student, I began pursuing a doctoral degree in dance in 2012 and will defend my dissertation this Spring. Currently, I am an Associate Professor of Dance and the Ballet Program Coordinator within the School of Dance at the University of Utah.

What has surprised you the most in your life?
This is an interesting question, and I have two answers. Firstly, in a peculiar way, I think my life and career journey have been full of surprises. I never could have imagined some of the adventures I was afforded or the opportunities that suddenly presented themselves. When I was younger, I never envisioned a concrete life-plan or set of expectations about what my career and life would be. In all honestly, I still don’t. I often feel that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! 2) I am consistently amazed by the human capacity for goodness and compassion. Despite the doom and despair that bombards us in the media (and I am not saying that awful things are not occurring, for they most certainly are), humans have the capacity for incredible warmth and generosity of spirit that we can all strive to nurture in ourselves and others. 

What do you wish you had known/been told?
I wish I had realized sooner that the world is small and life is short. I see in my students now the fear, hesitancy, and trepidation that I felt as a young artist, and I try to encourage them to go for it, take a leap of faith. I often say to students (and also to myself): “What do you have to lose?”