Brynn Ogilvie, born in San Diego, CA and raised in Olympia, WA, began dancing as a form of communication between herself and her traumas. At the age of twelve, Ogilvie was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, an incurable affliction that, if not treated properly, could result in numerous surgeries and many changes in her lifestyle. It was then that she realized that we, as humans, cannot always have control over our bodies and, for a twelve-year-old, that experience was a hard one to grasp. She discovered that dance helped her come to terms with not having control over certain things and, in turn, gave some control back in regards to movement and how she expressed herself.
Ogilvie started dancing with a jazz class and drill team in high school (military style movement with focus on formation, sharp angles, shapes and organization), and had taken to Horton technique and ballet while attending Knox College in Galesburg, IL. However, it took a Theory and Improvisation class to break her out of her box. This class helped her to tie all her dance experiences together to create a freer dance aesthetic and creation process. Her excitement in dance could not be hindered as she took every opportunity to do so while in college. Her efforts and hard work as a dance performer led to her receiving the John Hofsas Prize in Dance in 2011 from the professors at Knox College.
After graduating from Knox College with her B.A. in Elementary Education, Ogilvie returned to Olympia and found a position teaching ballroom dance to adults. Ballroom dance styles were new to Ogilvie and a welcome challenge. While teaching ballroom dance, she discovered nonverbal communication through dance and how listening to one another is important to dance gracefully and enjoyably. These concepts, she realized were important to understand as early as possible and wanted to bring that to students that were at a younger period in their life.
To get her foot in the door as an educator in Washington, she applied and accepted a position teaching reading at Madison Elementary School through the Washington Reading Corps. For a year, Ogilvie implemented the nonverbal cues from ballroom dancing into her teaching practices to help students understand reading as well as how to interact with each other effectively. Though teaching children had always been a passion of hers, dancing had been put on the back burner, making it difficult for Ogilvie to stay inspired and to work through the many challenges in her life. She wanted to teach dancing in public schools to have the best of both worlds but didn’t have the appropriate credentials to do so. That is when she began applying to graduate schools for dance. She was accepted into the MFA program in Performance and Choreography at Mills College (her top choice) and quickly moved down to Oakland, CA to begin a new chapter in her life.
Instead of considering how dance looks, Ogilvie values what dance can convey. Currently, she believes in collaborating and respecting her dancer’s experiences and using ballroom dance as an avenue for teaching the importance of non-verbal communication and expression. Ogilvie, through Danceafin, is constantly striving to implement:
Dance as a translation of human experience
Dance as a nonverbal source of listening and communicating
Dance as a way of becoming more aware of your feelings, experiences and how to handle them.