Kristina Tucker ’22 fell in love with Shenandoah University after attending National High School Dance Festivals on campus and having a wonderful experience with Auxiliary Adjunct Assistant Professor of Dance Tiffanie Carson, M.F.A., as one of the instructor for her dance classes. When it was time to apply for college, Tucker decided she wanted to study in the Conservatory’s dance program because of these experiences.
“They have the most supportive faculty members I have ever seen at a university,” said Tucker. “You really get to know and connect with them on a personal level.”
One of Tucker’s fondest memories at Shenandoah was realizing what type of dancer she wanted to be with the help of her mentor Carson. “I had grown up never being completely sure of what I wanted to do with dance in the future,” said Tucker. “All I knew is that I loved performing!”
During her third year at the university, she came across cruise ship auditions for Celebrity Cruises and remembered that Carson connected her with a performer in the company. This connection allowed her to feel confident in applying for the position on the cruise liner and was grateful to have this opportunity because of her mentor.
Tucker became a cruise ship dancer for Celebrity Cruises Entertainment and Lime Entertainment Agency, and during her first contract she was promoted to dance captain. As a cruise ship dancer and dance captain, she is responsible for learning the choreography for multiple shows in a short period of time to perform for guests of the ship. Tucker is also responsible for maintaining quality and precision for each performance with both the dancers and the singers.
One of the most rewarding experiences of Tucker’s career was when she put together an entire holiday show on her first cruise ship contract. This was a special show because she was able to collaborate on the original choreography, as well as with the vocal captain and cruise director on how to include almost every ethnicity and nationality for the show, which was performed on Christmas Day. This was extremely rewarding for her as both a dancer and a leader.
According to Tucker, Shenandoah helped prepare her to succeed in her career because of the diversity and uniqueness of each dance class. While working on the cruise ship, she uses the tools that she learned from her classes at the university. “Having the kind of professors that are true leaders definitely inspired me to become the best leader in my dance captain role that I could be,” said Tucker.
Tucker’s advice to students is: “Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. During my years of dancing, both in school and out, I’ve had people doubt my abilities to achieve my goals. My life motto is ‘prove them wrong!’ Everything that tried to get in the way of my dreams only pushed me harder to reach them. And now here I am, preparing for the next contract of my dreams as a cruise ship dancer.”