Plymouth, N.H.–Lisa Travis of Holderness has been selected the 2011 Distinguished Adjunct Faculty at Plymouth State University. The award recognizes excellence in the teaching profession and by the individuals who exemplify its finest qualities. Students, alumni and colleagues make nominations for the award.
Travis teaches music-theatre dance styles, jazz and modern dance in the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance (MTD), and movement in the Department of Health and Human Performance. She is also a faculty choreographer in MTD and most recently for the educational theatre troupe “Theatre Integrating Guidance, Education and Responsibility (TIGER).
She has been teaching and choreographing for more than 25 years, after studying dance at the Boston Conservatory of Music and has performed with modern dance companies in California and Rhode Island and has danced with Emmy Award-winner Billbob Brown since 2002.
Travis is also the founder and artistic director of Terminal Hip Dance Theater, a collaborative performance group based in Plymouth.
In addition to teaching and choreographing at Plymouth State University, Travis has taught at Roger Williams College in Rhode Island. She continues to choreograph musicals for private and public high schools, at North Country Center for the Arts in Lincoln, and has been a guest choreographer for the Vietnamese National Opera and Ballet. She has received two nominations from the New Hampshire Theatre Awards for “best choreography in a musical” for her work at the Papermill Theatre.
Travis says being a lifelong dancer has provided her the opportunity to study under a wide array of teachers who have informed her teaching philosophy. “I grew the most as a dancer in an atmosphere where it felt safe to be me. I don’t ask my students to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. We’re all in it together,” she says.
Her students say she models that mentoring in the classes she teaches. One said, “Lisa is a fantastic teacher. It doesn’t matter what level you are at in her class because it is a safe learning space. She just wants you to do the best you can.”
A colleague commented that Travis “has established herself as a community resource, artist and mentor. Additionally she brings cross-disciplinary performance to our area through her company, Terminal Hip Dance Theatre. In all of her efforts she connects her university students to her work; many have joined as teaching apprentices, performers, and observers.“
Another colleague said that students are pushed to do their best work in the supportive learning environment Travis creates. “Her students are uniformly enthusiastic about their experiences under her instruction.”
Travis says the biggest hurdle she’s had to overcome as a dancer is finding ways to make a living. “It’s not a lucrative career choice. I’ve been a waitress, a house painter, a caterer…“
She says however, “I love the fact that I get to teach what I love. I love watching students get excited about what they are doing. As a teacher, I am in a wonderful environment with young dancers who are risk takers—they inspire me to be the best I can be.”