This fall, the Dance Department welcomed a fresh face to Zurn, professional ballerina Jennifer McNamara.
Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, McNamara has always had a love of and passion for dancing.
At age six, McNamara took part in gymnastics and recreational ballet, and at age 12 she enrolled in an official ballet school.
When she was 17, McNamara received the opportunity of a lifetime: an apprenticeship with the Richmond Ballet Company in Richmond, Virginia.
Not long after her high school graduation, McNamara ventured to Richmond to begin what would be a very long and successful career as a professional ballet dancer.
Over the next two years, McNamara performed in a number of full-length ballets within Richmond.
After this, she performed as a touring dancer over a seven year period.
McNamara has performed in countries including India, Spain and the entirety of the United States.
Eventually, she ended up dancing for the Nashville Ballet Company, where she stayed over a period of 20 years.
Throughout her career, McNamara has performed many roles.
Some of her favorites include Juliet from Romeo and Juliet, the title role of Lizzie Borden and Lucy in Dracula.
In recent years, McNamara retired from the Nashville Ballet Company and has settled down to focus on other facets of her life.
She became a certified Pilates instructor, working specifically with dancers and rehabilitation referrals in her home studio.
Today, she is pursuing her teaching certification through the National Dance Education Organization.
She has also earned her MFA in Dance from Hollins University.
When asked about her new home at Mercyhurst, McNamara says that she very much enjoys the students and faculty and the feeling of being on a campus that is small, but that is filled with a great big spirit and an eagerness to learn.
It is no secret that dance that is a very demanding form of art.
When asked how she tries to inspire students, McNamara said, “I am interested in teaching my students to learn to look and analyze themselves and other dancers in a positive way, where dancing can be applied to a number of problems.”
“My goal is to teach grace with yourself, critical grace and compassion,” McNamara said.