Dancing through college: University Dance Alliance provides active outlet, positive mental health


UAD Logo – via University Dance Alliance, The Arts at BGSU

Sophomore Autumn Rydarowicz did not see a future with dance after a rough end to her high school career in 2020.

“I never thought I would come to BG and dance again,” Said Rydarowicz. “That was the farthest thought in my mind.”

But then she found University Dance Alliance.

Rydarowicz, a criminal justice major at BGSU, is a dancer and choreographer for University Dance Alliance. UDA is a student-run dance group that holds an annual fall and spring showcase. Dancers from all backgrounds and genres are welcome to participate.

Rydarowicz trained in ballet and contemporary for about 16 years. She is thankful to continue her practice and to have fallen back in love with dance.

“It’s just been absolutely insane to just create and do that in a space that is so positive and so uplifting,” she said.

Senior Madelyn Huzyak shares a similar experience to Rydarowicz.  

“I felt like, before I found UDA, that maybe I’d have to leave dance behind,” Huzyak said. “But then to have that final show and the applause at the end was like, ‘this is what I wanted. This is what it’s about.’”

The dietetics major has been dancing since the age of five training in ballet, modern, and tap. Both dancers trained at the same studio in their hometown of Wadsworth, Ohio. They continue to share the stage together in college. In the spring of 2021, the dancers co-choregraphed a contemporary piece for the spring showcase.

Huzyak has been involved in the program for three years as a dancer and choreographer. Like Rydarowicz, choreographing has been a rewarding experience for her.

“I think choreographing both contemporary and then tap last semester and this semester have served as an outlet, you know, just going by myself and working on it and crafting it. Like I said, it’s a fun outlet,” Huzyak said.

She continued, “When you choreograph, you get to have something that’s your own, something to see, and it’s something that’s alive in so many words.”

Their dance career has not been without its obstacles. Both spoke on the struggle of comparison.

“It’s very easy in dance to compare yourself,” Huyzak said. “From a body image perspective in dance, you spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, especially in ballet facing the side. The idea is to watch your technique and that is great for that, but you’re in tight clothing and there’s not a lot that can be hidden.”

Rydarowicz has found a safe space within UDA. She has bonded with her peers over certain issues such as body image.

“You have a lot of the same past traumas and mental health issues,” she said. “A lot of the people I’ve run into understand where I come from with not eating, or having some sort of eating disorder, or not having a good relationship with food. A lot of the struggles we go through as people can be shared because of dance.”

Huzyak said that her favorite part about dance is performing. She explained the feeling of performing for the first time since high school as indescribable.

“So that was just a super confirming experience,” she said. “I’m back to what I love doing.”

For more information on the program and to see the dancers in action, visit UDA’s Instagram and Facebook pages.