Maddie Thies ’17 developed a lifelong passion for dance after taking jazz lessons with friends in kindergarten. “I just really loved to perform… –I loved having the attention on me. I always wanted to be front and center, so that’s what kept me going and wanting to be better,” recalled Thies.
A four-year senior, Thies has danced in every dance showcase and participated in the dance co-curricular for most terms. She has also been a member of the Advanced Dance Ensemble since her sophomore year. In her last year in the Deerfield dance program, she is one of two seniors in Advanced Dance Tutorial whom Ms. Jennifer Whitcomb, Deerfield Director of Dance, describes as her co-directors.
“They’re producers [of the student choreography showcase] as a well as choreographers and dancers. It’s a lot of work,” explained Ms. Whitcomb.
Having never choreographed before coming to Deerfield, Thies put together a beginner hip hop piece for the first time last year with 35 dancers. She remarked, “That was a really fun experience, and it was a big deal for me to be able to see all those people onstage with my choreography. It was a really proud moment.”
The impact Thies has made on the Deerfield dance program has always been evident. “[Thies] leads by example,” said Ms. Whitcomb. “She demonstrates that quality of selflessness that is so important for a strong leader. Oftentimes… she tends to hang back and let other people take the limelight.”
The collaborative nature of dance is one of the reasons why it is so close to Thies’ heart. “I love the connections you make in dance,” shared Thies. “Everyone I’ve met whom I dance with — they feel like family for me. When we all come together, each piece is emotional. There’s a story to tell, and you’re putting your full effort into it, so everyone becomes much closer.”
Mae Emerson ’19, a fellow dancer in the Advanced Dance Ensemble, commented, “Working with Maddie is so much fun. She will make you feel welcomed right when you walk into the room. Her ability to snap into focus but still joke around and have fun is something everyone should have.”
Thies’ breadth of mastery across all different styles of dance and her exceptional work ethic that allowed her to develop these skills have been praised by Ms. Whitcomb, who described Thies as a dancer whose ability to improve knows no limits.
“Her style of dance is very unique. [Maddie] is one of the few primarily hip-hop dancers in the ensemble, which brings a new edge and clarity to the movements. She is always accentuating the beats and energy of the music,” said Mila Castleman ’18, a fellow member of the Advanced Dance Ensemble.
Thies is certain that dance will continue to be a part of her life in the future, whether it is dancing in a club at college or just for fun. “I don’t want to do it very intensely, but I’ll always love that feeling of accomplishment of when you put your piece onstage.”
Above all, dance is a creative outlet that allows Thies to gain confidence, who is happiest when she gets positive feedback from the Deerfield community for her performances. She expressed, “When I step onstage, I feel like I’ve become a more confident version of myself, and I can let it all go. It’s the best feeling when you know you’ve given it your all and danced your heart out.”