Finding the Balance

BlockProfile-CruzMaribel Cruz ’87 has found a way to satisfy her left brain’s critical thinking and her right brain’s desire to create. Taking Allegheny’s interdisciplinary attitude to heart, this dancing doctor’s dual career keeps her balanced. Currently a selection analyst/ consultant with the gallup organization, Cruz works in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“It’s a direct relationship between what i studied in school and what i do on a day to day basis,” she says. “I do a lot of research and development, developing behavior interviews, consulting with industry leaders in terms of how to be more effective in their leadership.” A double major in psychology and english at Allegheny, Cruz found these academic studies appealing and rewarding. But she also wanted to continue to follow her passion for dance. Born and raised in new York City, Cruz took classes in the city starting at age three. When she first entered the dance department at Allegheny, “i was definitely a bunhead,” she says. “i had my first dance class with Jan Hyatt, and I was thinking ‘I’m well trained.’ Jan looked at me and said ‘I want you to dance organically from your center.’ ” Slowly and surely Cruz incorporated modern dance technique into her work. When she graduated from Allegheny, she went to the university of Michigan in Ann Arbor to complete her doctorate in psychology. But she didn’t leave dance behind. Cruz says Michigan’s dance program was top notch, with teachers who had studied with Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Lucas Hoving, and Jose Limon. While in Michigan, Cruz was given the opportunity to dance in modern dance icon Bill T. Jones’s controversial last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a piece that confronts issues of Christianity, slavery, and the AIDS epidemic. And its third act is performed nude. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to do this, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,’ ” she says. She also danced with compa-nies in Ann Arbor, and, after moving to Nebraska, she helped to form the Lincoln Contemporary Dance Project. The company is in its seventh year this season. “We’ve got a lot of freedom, we choreograph all of our pieces, and it’s a very collaborative democratic process,” she says. “We don’t have a hierarchy. We share an aesthetic and a philosophy.” Last november, Cruz returned to Allegheny to share her experiences, lecturing about performing in Jones’s work. She also prepared a work of choreography for the students, which they performed on Martin luther King, Jr. Day, and she lectured in the psychology department. “Allegheny had its hand in preparing me for my life after school,” says Cruz. “It’s nice to be able to balance those things. to me when you’ve got a multifaceted approach to your life, it creates more opportunities. through dance i’ve met Asian dragon dancers, and tibetan monks, belly dancers … dance has enriched me.”

–Emily Macel ’04