An Artist's Passion by Deneia Washington
Identifying as an introverted child, she found solace in the arts. From singing to dancing to even being a young and creative playwright, Assistant Professor Maggie Anderson’s past quest for artistic freedom soon became her life’s work.
Her captivation for theater stems from its way of highlighting the human experience and the way it brings people together. “ helps to evolve and heal each other by sharing stories and embracing humanity.
As head of the Department's movement and dance program, Anderson teaches jazz, ballet, and musical theater dance to undergraduate theater majors. She also mentors the budding performers both in and out of the classroom. Before coming to Temple, she taught dance and movement to students of all ages: children, teen, and young adults.
“Teaching is in my blood. It has always been a calling and I have been teaching as long as I've been performing. It grounds me with a deep sense of purpose,” says Anderson.
In addition to her extensive teaching background, Anderson has experience in directing and choreographing. Her choreography credits includes McCarter Theatre's The Jungle Book, Maples Repertory Theater's Chicago, and Temple Theaters' Oklahoma.
Anderson was first introduced to the art of movement at the age of fourteen during an African dance class. “I was hooked immediately - the drums, the rhythms, the sweat, the structure, and the discipline,” she says. Not looking back, Anderson would begin to commit to learn various forms of dance. She now adds jazz, modern, ballet, and tap dancing to her training.
While there are many aspects that make theater, the collaboration between dance and theater is of much importance to Anderson. “When we express something through the body, the audience has a visceral response to that expression that goes beyond verbal communication,” says Anderson. “It is also an incredible devise for expressing elation, ritual, and the inner workings of a character's mental struggle in a poetic form,” she adds.
With this in mind, Anderson makes sure movement tells a story with her choreographic formations at Temple Theaters and across New York and Philadelphia. Believing that there is no one way to tell a story, Anderson draws inspiration from wherever she feels paints the best picture.
“I know my history, and I try to honor the iconic moments when applicable; but also forge new ground when appropriate,” she says.
Theater and its hectic schedule is something Anderson embraces about the profession. But when she does have downtime, Anderson enjoys yoga, cooking, reading, and checking out some live music and theater.
“Having tools that help to rejuvenate and ground yourself is crucial,” Anderson explains.
For someone who may be trying to break into the industry, Anderson believes that curiosity must be the driving force to help one craft and make theater. She also believes that asking questions and paying attention to detail is critical in theater.
“Inspiration is a fickle muse. You must have a craft for longevity,” says Anderson.
Keeping herself grounded, Anderson remains productive and active by continuing dance training. “I still take class regularly to stay in shape and to gain new knowledge and stimulation for my teaching and creative work,” says Anderson.
Anderson is the choreographer for musical production Brigadoon, which will be opening Temple Theaters' on campus season this fall.