Arielle: What did you aspire to be as a child?
Devon: This is a funny story. So my mom had bad teeth, so she spent a lot of time at the oral surgeon. And we became really close to him, he’s almost kind of like a grandfather to us. But when I was six, he drove a jaguar. My mom said I had to do well in school and be something that makes a lot of money to drive a car like that. [So I decided I was going to be like Dr. Sibera. My mom convinced me being an orthodontist was a better choice because oral surgery is bloody]. So for years I wanted to be an orthodontist so I could drive a jaguar, but that didn’t last very long. In high school and up until I got to college I thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher. When I got to college that was my initial major.
Arielle: What did you study in college?
Devon: Going in, I intended to major in English. And then I switched to women’s studies. And then I think I wanted something broader, so I switched to American cultural studies. And I minored in dance; [Bates College] didn’t offer a dance major.
Arielle: What made you choose a career in dance?
Devon: Dance has been always like breathing. I think in college I just realized, as much as academics were important to me, dance was so much more important to me. I wanted it to be the integral part of my life. That was probably in my sophomore year that I knew I wanted to dance [professionally].
Arielle: What steps did you take to achieve this goal?
Devon: I was always involved in dance year round. I always did summer intensives and that was always an opportunity to network in high school. In college I did the Bates Festival in the summer. The reason that I started dancing with Ben (Ben Munisteri is New York based choregrapher. His company is named after him: Ben Munisteri Dance Projects) was that he came to Bates in my last semester, and he set a piece on us. He gave me his card and took my information and said, “let’s keep in touch.” A couple months after I graduated he emailed me and said he had a show at the Joyce and he wanted me to do it. So that was just lucky. And I had been teaching since my sophomore year of college.
Arielle: in maine?
Dev: I went to college and then Jimmy [Viera] at [Boston Youth Moves] asked me to come back and set a piece. So I was setting choreography in Boston while I was going to school in Maine. And then my senior year I taught a modern class at Bates. So I was always involved in teaching. (Devon currently is the Director of Dance at Dana Hall School).
Arielle: What were some of your most prominent learning experiences as a dancer?
Devon: As an adult my most prominent experience was being a part of Ben’s creative process. Just seeing how he builds dances directly on dancers. I think it’s special because he uses a lot of dancers input. Not necessarily “what do you think I should do here?” but he’ll describe a movement and you do it until it’s what he wants. He doesn’t really dance that much; he doesn’t show you what he wants. He’ll describe it and you have to do it until it’s right.
Arielle: What were the challenges you faced as a performing artist?
Devon: Money! Not now as an educator but as a performing artist, as a dancer in company, you don’t get benefits. Finding part time work around my rehearsal schedule was also a challenge. [Money] was probably the only challenge; it just informs a lot of other things.
After interviewing Devon I realized that being a quality student is very informative of what kind of teacher you are. The ability to lead a class stems from the ability to be active in understanding oneself and the ability to help others reach their full potential.
Here's a link of Devon dancing in Ben Munisteri Dance Projects. She's the one in the striped shirt and the blue skirt. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTUxJBjiwEo