“I wanted the full college experience—I didn’t want to just go to a conservatory that primarily isolates you in the arts. As a dance major at SMU, I took dance history, labanotation, composition, and kinesiology, among many other classes in math, science, English, psychology, and so on. I also picked up a minor in public relations.” She says that she was very blessed to get enough grants and scholarships to go there.
She adds that a lot of college dance programs force you to get on either a ballet or modern track. However, SMU’s program offers ballet, modern, and jazz.
Was all of that time-consuming? Let’s put it this way—since she was cast in a lot of shows, her days looked like this: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., class; one hour for dinner; 6-10 p.m., rehearsal for the mainstage shows; 10 p.m. to midnight, student choreography rehearsal; then midnight- 2:30 a.m., study.
(That schedule takes it out of me, just reading about it.)
Kirby says that this putting herself in a bubble at SMU was a very good thing at the time. “I didn’t have a chance to get distracted with outside influences and I’m a better dancer for that. I learned how to focus on my goals and stay there.”
Her senior year, she started looking at companies to audition for, and she zeroed in on Ballet Austin.
“I found out that Stephen Mills was forging new trails, and I liked his forward-thinking style which combines ballet and contemporary movement.”