As undergraduate students, some of our biggest accomplishments can range anywhere from maintaining the right GPA, to balancing our social lives with excessive studying. For Kelsey Mooney, a fourth-year psychology and criminology major, being captain of the UTM dance team is the cherry on top of a successful four years.

Beginning dance training at the age of three years old was rigorous but exciting for Mooney. Surrounded by encouraging dance teachers, she started dancing at a small studio in her hometown of Watrous, Saskatchewan. That wasn’t just a phase or an after-school hobby she wanted to try out. It was a way to grow into the world in a way that she didn’t know how else to do.

Mooney said, “My favourite thing about dancing is that it allows me to escape from whatever else is going on in my life and gives me a way to express myself in a way that words can’t.”

Dedication to her creative practice was crucial to its outcomes.

Mooney recalled, “I would go to the studio with a friend to practice at 6 a.m. most weekdays until school started and then normally dance or teach dance from after school until 10 p.m. most nights. I also drove about an hour on weekends to take extra exam classes at a different studio so I was normally dancing seven days a week.”

Mooney is also a graduate of various dance schools, and her years of training have helped her succeed in them as well as pass their exams.

“Growing up, I completed all of the levels of CDTA [Canadian Dance Teachers Association] tap exams as well all of the CDTA jazz exams. I also completed my advanced two RAD [Royal Academy of Dance] ballet exam in my last year of high school.” She added, “I also drove about an hour on weekends to take extra exam classes at a different studio so I was normally dancing seven days a week.”

For Mooney, attending school in Mississauga was a strange and sort of wonderful journey—at least in her perspective. She said, “I was initially registered to attend the University of Saskatchewan, but after attending a talent scouting event in Saskatchewan I signed with a manager and decided to try out the world of acting, dancing, modelling and singing in Toronto […] Coming to Mississauga was very interesting for me. I grew up in Watrous, which has a total population of 2,000 people, so moving to Mississauga with so many people was quite a shock.”

Nevertheless, Mooney’s move to Mississauga didn’t only allow her to grow emotionally and mentally, but it also introduced her to the dance team at UTM: “I have been on the dance team since my first year so this is my fourth year on the team. Being on the team has taught me […] how to work with others, how to be a leader, how to support others and help them grow both as dancers and individuals in general, and how to grow as a dancer myself, as well.”

Not only is Mooney captain of her dance team, but she’s accomplished other dance-related tasks that she can check off her list. However, school tends to get in the way of furthering her ambitions: “When I was in first year, I tried to do school full-time, as well as go out for auditions and photoshoots in the GTA. I ended up being a background dancer in a music video by Kira Isabella, “Shake It If Ya Got it,” as well as doing a couple other small jobs throughout the year.” She continued, “At the end of first year, I decided that doing school full-time, as well as pursuing a career in the acting and entertainment industry was just not realistic, so I decided to focus on my schooling.”

Mooney expressed that she loves all kinds of dancing, but tap and ballet are her go-to styles

As for the future of the UTM Dance team, she said, “The UTM Dance Team has been consistently growing both in skill and numbers the past few years.” She also added, “I hope that they will continue to work hard and excel in whatever they do in the future, and I’m sure that they will.”