A leap into learning - and risk-taking

David Thai

HOMETOWN: Boston, Mass.
MAJOR: Theater
MINOR: Chinese, Film Studies
PROFESSOR: Miryam Moutillet, Director of the Dance Program, Senior Artist in Residence

David Thai and Miryam Moutillet

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 recalls. “She liked my break dancing a lot.”

He was paired with the head of the Break Dance Club for the winter performance. Practicing for hours, the two choreographed their routine, which included a six-step, backspin, freeze, headstand and other freestyle moves. Their dazzling performance won audience accolades.

“David has great spirit and positive energy. He came to me as a break dancer and was willing to take a ballet class and try character roles in my physical theater course,” says Moutillet. “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.”

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.

The first in his family to pursue higher education, David has spent the past year as a City Year elementary school mentor and tutor. Reflecting on his Union experience, he credits Moutillet’s class with helping him learn about himself and his physical abilities.

“Being in college was daunting initially,” he says. “But in the Dance Department, I felt strong and able to express myself. Miryam inspires her students to be creative, to discover what they’re naturally capable of doing. She helps students to become better dancers and better people.”

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