Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Up close: Marissa Holland ’05 dances across disciplines

Most people are familiar with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and many can quote one of the play’s most famous lines, “A rose by any other name...” But, who remembers the big dance scene?

It turns out that the dance scene is one of the most critical moments for the main characters because this is when they first meet. It is so important that theatre professor David Fox asked Marissa Holland ’05 to choreograph the key scene in the fall production of Romeo and Juliet. She made it a memorable experience for the audience and the actors alike.

Holland, who majored in theatre and dramatic literature, donated her time and talent to teach cast members how to waltz, which was popular during the Regency period in which this version of the play is set. “Many of the students had no dance background at all. They worked with me for ten weeks learning how to count music for the first time, memorizing what was going on in the scene, listening to the dialogue, and working to make the whole thing look effortless.”

Since she graduated, Holland has been working as an assistant director to the Wheaton College Dance Company and as a guest choreographer. She was one of the first dance minors to graduate from Wheaton and, while a student, choreographed for both dance and theater productions and continued to perform with the company. Her work was instrumental in dance and helped support the development of a dance track major under the supervision of Professor Cheryl Mrozowski.

Off stage, Holland is an oncology/bone marrow transplant nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She sees many similarities between her job in medicine and her work in dance. “The main connection between my two passions is that in order to excel, one must know how the human body works both mentally and physically,” she says. “Both dance and nursing require listening to and interacting with people, while maintaining a clear vision and focus.”

About Michelle Monti

Michelle Monti is associate director of communications.