The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Grinnell Artists: Emily Gold ’19


Zoe Fruchter

“I’m a dancer,” Emily Gold ’19 states plainly on the floor of Bucksbaum 181, otherwise known as Grinnell’s dance studio.

However, this straightforward statement does not convey the depth of Gold’s dedication to dance, and her range within the art form. A nationally competitive ballroom dancer, leader of Salseros de Grinnell and a senior member of Dance Ensemble, Gold embodies the identity “dancer” in all parts of her life.

But this wasn’t always the case. Gold began dancing at age six, in what she describes as, “Dance Moms-type competitions.” Dance, however, took a backseat to music for most of Gold’s adolescence.

“I was a musician before I was a dancer,” Gold said. “I played the cello and the piano … chamber groups, orchestra, all kinds of stuff.”

This dedication changed when her mother started to take ballroom lessons at a studio near Gold’s home in Long Island, New York. Gold quoted her mom as saying, “Emily, dancing will probably be good for you. All you do is sit all day and play music.”

Prodded by her mom, Gold decided to focus on dance more during her junior year of high school..

“[I thought] alright, maybe I’ll try one lesson, … and I completely fell in love. … Immediately, I started doing competitions, national competitions, training pretty heavily with some really awesome teachers at a local studio.”

Gold has not stopped dancing since. She competes with her home studio in the Fred Astaire Dance Studio franchise national competitions and on the international level, attending competitions like the Blackpool Dance Festival in Blackpool, England. Recently Gold was ranked as Top Silver Level Female at the Fred Astaire National Dance Competition, dancing in Latin and rhythm styles.

“I dance with pros and I compete with pros,” she said.

For those uninformed on the world of competitive ballroom, Gold explained that professionals are those who teach ballroom as well as compete.

“[Ballroom competitions are] a really interesting culture. It’s very glamorous.”

Gold then laughed, adding, “I’m not very glamorous. But there’s something really exciting about going with a team. We are the studio that brings maracas and tambourines, and are screaming and cheering each other on.”

Underneath the glamour and excitement, Gold finds a deeper meaning in ballroom.

“I really love how grounded ballroom is — the relationship of your feet to the floor, how to work with another person — it’s all about tension and working to make your bodies look as aesthetically pleasing as possible, but also making your bodies work together. It’s a really collaborative process. It’s intimate in a way where you are artistically challenged.”

Gold enjoys a challenge. Coming to Grinnell, her dance commitments radically shifted.

“There was no outlet, no competitions,” she said.

In her freshman year, she decided to join Grinnell’s Dance Ensemble. Dance Ensemble is a performing ensemble that produces contemporary dance pieces choreographed by both faculty and guest artists. Gold lights up when she describes how Ensemble changed her outlook on dance.

“Ensemble is completely different from anything else I’ve done. It’s a collaborative process, having no set dogma of what we have to do. I’ve never created material the way I do in Ensemble. It’s been a giant learning process,” Gold said.

Gold is also a leader of Salseros de Grinnell, a club that teaches Latin social dance, from the merengue to the mambo. She stresses that the club is open to students of all experience levels, including those “who don’t even know how to do a basic salsa step.”

Salseros meets every Tuesday and Sunday evening from 7 to 8 p.m. The club’s upcoming performances include appearances at the Grinnell College dance showcase, talent show and pop-up shows and workshops.

Embarking on yet another challenge, Gold hopes to expand her teaching experience from Salseros to a professional level. This summer, she began taking lessons to become a certified ballroom instructor. Gold explains that many people take ballroom lessons as an escape from the demands of careers and school. When it comes to dancing and being a full-time student, Gold is still trying to find the right balance.

“The truth is I don’t [know how to balance it],” she said. “It’s a lot of juggling, but I love it dearly. [Dance is] part of who I am as a person. Making time for it is very important to me.”

Gold somehow also makes time for her coursework as a double major in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies and Sociology. She plans to study abroad in Ghana, and hopes to work in non-profits post-graduation. Yet, rather than see her interests as disparate, Gold articulates a common thread of connection and communication. She’s working to merge her passions for dance and women’s empowerment work in the future.

“Dance is a powerful art form,” she said. “It communicates a message.”

Emily Gold uses her competitive dance background in both Dance Ensemble and Salseros de Grinnell, of which she is a leader.
Photo by Helena Gruensteidl

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *