As a young ballet student in small-town Oklahoma, Emily Hunter thought she knew exactly what she wanted to be: a principal in a classical ballet company. But by the time she enrolled in the University of Iowa’s dance department, she’d begun to have doubts.
“After puberty hit, and I was facing the reality of my body’s limitations, I had to rethink who I was as a dancer,” she says. “During college, I began taking modern classes and working with contemporary choreographers. That exposure helped me discover that I didn’t have to be a tutu-and-tiara girl. I still loved the challenge of classical technique, but I felt more at home in contemporary mode.”
Today Hunter is a member of Texas Dance Theatre, a contemporary ballet company with a wide-ranging repertoire. She also teaches contemporary dance classes at a local studio and choreographs her own contemporary works, including several for TDT. “If I had limited myself to classical ballet, I don’t know if I would ever have been inspired to choreograph,” she says. “The contemporary style opened doors for me. It allowed me to find my own voice as a choreographer, and my own unique way of moving as a dancer.”