Shorter Jr.

Donald C. Shorter Jr.
  • Area of Study: Dance
  • Current City: Houston, Texas
  • Graduation Date: 2002
  • Current Occupation: Assistant Professor of Dance at Sam Houston State University

Why did you choose WCU and/or the Department of Theatre and Dance?
I came to WCU to become a respiratory therapist but ended up finding my passion for dance thanks to being under the direction of Gretchen Studlien-Webb. I earned a minor in dance 2002 (that was the only degree available at that time) along with B.S. in Liberal Studies.

How has the quality of education you received from WCU prepared you for life after graduation?  
Being at WCU as a dance minor and under Gretchen's direction allowed me to investigate the art of dance freely and safely. There were no limits put on my research. I was strongly encouraged to continue to make my own path as a choreographer and dancer.

What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me looks like teaching various levels of modern technique, dance history, composition, dance and technology, and queer performance studies. When I'm not in the classroom I'm advising students and sitting on committees at the university level that are dedicated to ensuring that diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of the institution's mission. I also have been continuing my research agenda of queer performance at the intersection of concert stages and digital media.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to enter your field?
The sky is the limit. Be open to the journey because there are several routes instead of one fixed destination. Continue to put in the hard work and dedication.

What advice would you like to give to graduating seniors?
Don't wait until the spring semester of your senior year to connect to the professional industry of your interest. Start applying for fellowships, internships, intensives, and workshops your first year. This way you'll have more experience and exposure to your field. This gives you the time to develop relationships with those who may hire you after you graduate. The more experience you have while you're in school, the better off you'll be when you've completed your degree.

What makes our college stand out to you?
I loved how it had a family vibe to it. I didn't have the access to the resources that the students who attend WCU have now. In many ways, it was a good thing because I cherished what I had and didn't take anything for granted. I would love to be a dance student at WCU now because of the amazing facilities that are provided to the department of dance. There are beautiful studios on North Campus (instead of one large one on south campus) along with several performance spaces. This provides students with the ability to understand their craft from various perspectives

What is your favorite memory of being a student at WCU and/or in our college?
The time spent preparing for dance concerts at the old Swope Hall and Emilie K Asplundh. I always felt like I didn't belong until I found dance. Gretchen introduced me to a new world and that never would've happened if I didn't attend WCU. Dance is the thing that saved my life.

What's the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn't learn from your resume alone?
I love rollercoasters and have the biggest sweet tooth