As an undergraduate, Kayla Anderson ‘09 recognized that her experiences as a leader of the NC State dance team taught her strength and provided her with the opportunity to do what she loved while making friends and contacts. What she did not envision at that point was how her interest in dance would later evolve into a career.
When Anderson entered NC State, she was faced with countless possibilities of what to study. She soon realized her greatest passion was people; Anderson recalls always having been fascinated by communication across cultures and the significance of these exchanges.
Anderson was able to further this passion through a dual major in communication media and women’s and gender studies. She describes her classes at NC State as challenging to herself, her beliefs, and how she communicates. Working in communication provided her with opportunities to study various cultures and messages. Anderson’s complementary degree in women’s and gender studies has also made her aware of cultural boundaries, and how dance and art can be used to communicate where other forms of communication are restricted. She said this knowledge has made her more purposeful now as she works to make opportunities available to dancers of all ages and genders.
Following graduation, she accepted a position in sales and marketing; however, she questioned whether this was the best path for her skills and interests. It wasn’t long before Anderson decided to pursue a career in the dance industry.
“Being a Park Scholar definitely contributed to this particular professional decision,” she said. “Most importantly, this scholarship enhanced my confidence in my own abilities. It introduced me to individuals with the same desire for knowledge, and gave me opportunities in leadership and service. Everything I gained through this program ultimately gave me the courage and support system necessary to take that so-called ‘leap of faith.’”
Anderson submitted her resume to PTC Productions in New York City and – within a month – relocated and started her new career as the Assistant Director of Open Call Competition. Open Call Competition is a dance competition aimed at connecting dancers of all backgrounds with professional contacts, such as dancers who are active in the industry and on-site talent agents, to help them advance their dance careers.
Anderson said, “The most rewarding aspect of what I do is watching dancers of all ages compete on our stage.”
Anderson’s greatest challenge is keeping the atmosphere positive, which is difficult in a competitive setting. She counters negativity by providing excellent customer service to parents and teachers, and establishing a quality performance opportunity for all competitors.
Anderson encourages NC State students interested in the arts to “remain passionate and never let go of your craft. There is so much opportunity in the arts. Pursue what you know will make you happy.”
To those who are considering relocating to New York City, she added, “I think that everyone should fit whatever they can into a suitcase and relocate at some point in their life. Why not New York? You never know until you try!”
Story by Laura Turner