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A leap into learning - and risk-taking

David Thai
Hometown: Boston, Mass. 
Major: Theater 
Minor: Chinese, Film Studies 

Miryam Moutillet
Director of the Dance Program, Senior Artist in Residence

Life at Union kicked into high gear for David Thai '17 when he discovered he could bring his love for hip-hop and break dancing to the College’s dynamic dance program.

Plans were underway for the Winter Dance Concert, and Program Director Miryam Moutillet quickly reached out to the shy first-year. 

“The theme of the concert was New York City, and Miryam wanted a variety of dance styles,” David remembers. “She liked my break dancing a lot.”

With Moutillet’s encouragement, he paired with Alvin Andino ’15, then head of the campus break-dancing club, for the winter performance. Practicing for hours, the two choreographed a routine that included six-step, backspin, freeze, headstand and other freestyle moves.

David also took part in several large group pieces with student dancers in all genres.

“I love working with David,” says Moutillet. “He has great spirit and positive energy. He came to me as a break dancer and was very willing to take a ballet class and also try character roles in my physical theater course. I like students who want to be challenged. I ask them to trust me, to take risks with me – and I guarantee that they will learn.”

“I was always an energetic kid who loved to run and scamper around,” David says. “Taking Miryam’s class helped me to learn about my physical abilities.”

Sophomore year found David practicing his moves, once again, for several dance performances. 

In his second winter dance show, devoted to popular films, he delighted audiences as The Pink Panther’s loveable Inspector Clouseau. He reprised that role while performing with more than 70 other students in the Lothridge Festival of Dance at Steinmetz Symposium, a day devoted to undergraduate research and creative work, held on campus each spring.

“It was nerve-wracking initially, being in college,” reflects David, who is the first in his family to pursue higher education. “But in the dance department, I feel stronger and able to express myself. Miryam inspires us to have our own creative ideas, to see what we are naturally capable of doing. She helps students to be better dancers and better people.” 

This student/professor duo works side by side:

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