Dancer Mika Takahashi (BA Dance '19) on pushing beyond her comfort zone.
By Tyara Estrada (BBA ’22) and Arielle Ostry (BA Dance ’21)
Mika Takahashi (BA Dance ‘19) has been making the world her stage since the time she started dancing at age 2. “My mom put me in everything,” she says, “Soccer, softball, all that, and she said I used to dance around the field... It was just something that I knew that I loved to do even at that young age.”
After attending a boarding school and performing at the Ballet Theatre of Ohio, Mika came to the Corcoran School at the George Washington University because she loved the idea of being in a city and having access to a program that would allow her to study dance along with political communication.
Mika also saw GW as a chance for her to push herself outside of her comfort zone. From dancing with the GW First Ladies, a team that performs at all men's and women's home basketball games, to experimenting with modern dance, she pushed herself to explore and eventually find the kind of dance she loved.
During Mika’s time at the Corcoran, she was able to combine her two areas of study. During her senior year, she choreographed “I am an American,” a solo performance that combined Mika’s background in political communication and her experience as an Asian-American. Her dance tied in the rhetoric of Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency, while also exploring the experience of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II.
Another influential part of her time at the Corcoran was the mentorship she gained from her dance professor and faculty advisor, Dana Tai Soon Burgess (MFA ’94).
“[Professor Burgess] really pushed me to pursue dance as a career,” Mika said, “As artists, and especially as artists in Washington, D.C., growing up we’re taught you have to make dance your career, you have to make art your career, and you can’t do anything else with your time if you want to pursue that.”
With Professor Burgess as her guide, Mika was able to explore other avenues in pursuing her dream of being a dancer, while simultaneously tackling her other passions as a part of her nine to five occupation.
Now, Mika has entered a new chapter in her professional life, dancing for the Washington Wizards while also working for Edleman, a public relations firm based in D.C. She is also attending Georgetown University, working toward a Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications.
In terms of what she thinks other Corcoran students should do to achieve success, Mika said, “This is kind of cliché, but take every opportunity possible, especially those that make you feel uncomfortable. For me, had I not started dancing at GW I would have never had the opportunity to learn modern dance or apprentice with [Professor Burgess’s] dance company. Had I not auditioned for the First Ladies dance team, I would definitely not be here on the Wizards today.”
Mika’s story after graduating from GW can serve as motivation for all Corcoran students to push beyond what they believe possible, to try new genres or disciplines, and to never stop chasing their dreams in the arts.