Getting to the Art of the Matter: Part 2

By: Peter Van Houten
Getting to the Art of the Matter story feature photo

Want to sell your car? Take a piano class. Interested in law school? Perhaps you should audition for “Guys and Dolls.” A fine arts degree can teach you so many useful skills.

We talked to eight successful former Casper College students who are now working in their respective fields. In discussing their careers, they offer numerous ways that music, dance, painting, and acting apply to other professions such as law, finance, sales, and politics.

If you haven’t yet, make sure you read part 1 of this series.

AJ Campbell (AA, ’09)


Amandie Jo (AJ) Campbell’s first dance step came at 6 months of age. It was a movement class at the Rising Star Dance Academy to help her develop her motor skills. And though the Casper native was too young to remember the exact dance move, it must have been inspiring because she has been dancing ever since.

“I believe in dance because it helps us develop critical thinking skills as well as cognitive, kinesthetic, social, and emotional intelligence skills,” Campbell said. “My GPA went up at Casper College when I danced. I did better in my math classes because I would get the blood flowing and allow different receptors to go off.”

Campbell came to Casper College as a dance student in 2003 after years of performing with Rising Star and Natrona County High School. At the time, the college had renovated the dance areas in Krampert Theatre, an appealing fact to Campbell. She spent as much time as she could in her dance classes while also taking part in many of the musical theater offerings at the college such as “Seussical,” “Chicago,” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.” After transferring to Texas Tech University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in dance, she returned to Casper to help her mother care for her ailing grandmother.

Today, Campbell is awash in dance.

She has taught a variety of modern dance classes at Rising Star for the last four years while serving as the dance team coach at Natrona County High School. She has also helped with the musical productions at the high school over the last five years, having recently choreographed a successful run of “The Addams Family.”

In addition, she ran a nonprofit dance studio for two years, and for the past eight years has served as an adjunct instructor at Casper College teaching “Ballet I” and “Tap I” classes. Each summer, she volunteers as a dance teacher at the ARC summer camp. She also has taught dance classes at the Northwest Festival of the American College Dance Association. To fill what little free time she had remaining, she began studying three years ago for her master’s degree in dance education at the University of Northern Colorado. She hopes to develop an education dance program within the Natrona County School District.

“Dance teaches us so many things. We learn social skills, persistence, a willingness to perform in front of others, a respect for other cultures, and self motivation to accomplish our goals,” Campbell said. “Then there are the physical advantages such as improved posture and balance, as well as reduced stress and anxiety.”

Perhaps her most important production will take place this winter with the birth of her first child. She and her husband have already remodeled their home to welcome their baby. Campbell added that despite her passion, she has no plans to push her child toward dance. “Kids should be allowed to find their own paths.”

Don’t be surprised, however, if enrollment in a movement class occurs in the coming months.

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Footprints.

Learn more about the dance performance program at Casper College.

Media contact: Lisa S. Icenogle

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