When Rose Wuertz graduates on Dec. 14, she will have not only earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance, but a Professional Training Certificate in Dance, offered through a unique partnership with Charlotte Ballet.
Wuertz is just the 10th UNC Charlotte student to complete this prestigious certificate program, the only one of its kind in North Carolina. The partnership is unique to UNC Charlotte because of its strong connections to city institutions such as Charlotte Ballet.
Open by audition, the two-year curriculum places students in Charlotte Ballet studios with internationally acclaimed teachers, providing them with a taste of the professional dance world.
While students are taking classes, they are surrounded by like-minded individuals who adore ballet. They love the rigor and the striving for physical perfection in movement.
Students also get to watch rehearsals, attend performances and be around the professional hub-bub of a company.
“I really enjoyed the variety of classes, such as partnering, variations and repertoire,” Wuertz said. “It was a challenging schedule due to the time commitment off campus, but some time-management skills and packing lunches made it all doable.”
Wuertz is not dancing in Charlotte Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” which opened on Dec. 6 and runs until Dec. 23. However, she credits the certificate program with preparing her to perform the Grand Pas de Deux from “The Nutcracker” in UNC Charlotte’s Spring Concert in 2019.
"The program provided the opportunity to continue working on pointe work at a high level and maintaining the strength and endurance required of the pas de deux,” she said.
Dance professor Delia Neil said students like Wuertz tend to be high academic achievers as well as excellent dancers.
“The majority of our certificate students graduate with honors, so they are very disciplined,” she said. “They also will be lifelong supporters of dance and the arts. It is in their blood.”
Ayisha McMillan Cravotta, academy director for Charlotte Ballet, said the program’s founders had great foresight when they merged the training programs to attract, engage and develop a versatile community of dance professionals.
“Dance training supports students to develop many skills in addition to dance technique and performance; for example effective communication, self-discipline, athleticism, pedagogy and building context for historical and contemporary studies,” she said.
Wuertz joins other recent graduates of the certificate program who have gone on to perform with professional ballet companies, including Laura Dearman ’18, who dances with Neville Dance Theatre in New York City, and Julia Foster ’18, who dances with PDX Contemporary Ballet in Portland, Oregon.
Others hope to join them.
On Nov. 16, seven prospective students auditioned at Charlotte Ballet for the certificate program. Five were accepted, and one will enter UNC Charlotte in January 2020.
Rose, who also has a minor in biology, plans to go to graduate school for occupational therapy.
“Although Rose loves dancing, she has a strong need to help others, so occupational therapy was the route that intrigued her,” said Neil. “She is a natural teacher and supporter of others. She has empathy for others and the ability of patience. I see her always being involved with dance as well in some capacity. It is in her bones.”
"Las Mujeres Fuertes," performed in 2017, featured four Professional Training Certificate students: (left to right) Tiffany Mako, Julia Foster, Laura Dearman and Rose Wuertz.
Photos: Jeff Cravotta