Malik Nashad Sharpe dancing

Malik Nashad Sharpe ’14

Malik Nashad Sharpe ’14

Malik Nashad Sharpe dancing“You never know who is watching.” And although it may sound a bit cliché, dance department chair Sandra Burton’s advice to Malik Nashad Sharpe helped the junior from Long Island, N.Y., land a spot in the Trinity Laban Conservatory for Music and Dance. Sharpe was participating in a workshop in New York City last summer when a choreographer overheard him talking about studying abroad in London for dance and offered him a spot in her company.

“When I first came to Williams,” says Malik, “I found it hard to fit into a department. I took classes in so many disciplines that mattered deeply to me.” He then found out that he could apply to be a contract major in dance. Contract majors work independently to study a subject not offered as a major. Malik was the first student to major in dance at Williams.

“The time I spent designing my major, gathering faculty support, and writing my proposal for the Committee on Educational Policy—on top my Williams course load and training with the dance department faculty and 2011-2012 Artist-in-Residence Hana van der Kolk—set the foundation I needed to secure a highly contested spot in Night Star Dance Company in Dublin, Ireland,” says Malik. In April, Malik will perform with Night Star Dance Company at the Project Cube Theatre. He will be featured in a piece about immigration in the United States. Concurrently, Malik—a vegan—is working on a piece that highlights veganism as a philosophy. For that project, he is exploring poetry and dance. He says, “I am working with a collection of poetry that looks at veganism in playful, serious, painful, contentious, and easy-going ways.”

Although the piece is still untitled, Malik’s work will be showcased at Laban in June 2013 and in some London venues, as well. He looks forward to using his experiences from study abroad for his senior honors thesis. Malik encourages anyone considering a contract major to “Really give it a go! You get to take charge of your education and then it becomes uniquely yours.”