My name is Courtney Liu and I am so thankful to be part of the Baldwin family. When I joined the program the idea of a “network" seemed quite foreign. What was this intangible spider web that bestowed benefits upon those who were connected? Since graduation it has become quite clear. Baldwins have helped me develop new business ideas, welcomed me to new cities, and picked me up from rough work weeks with their insights and encouragement. When I was on tour with Swan Lake a Baldwin even let me use her bathtub to soak my aching back (my host family didn’t have one)! To current Duke students and other alumni, please reach out if you need anything. I split my time between Durham and New York and love to pay it forward.
While at Duke I was an East Campus RA, the Co-President of Sabrosura, and a Campus Campaign Coordinator for Teach for America. I taught dance at local studios in the triangle area, volunteered at the Durham Crisis Response Center, and completed a thesis evaluating an dance intervention for children exposed to domestic violence. I owe a special thanks to the Baldwin Scholars, DukeEngage, the Dance Program, and the Hart Leadership Program for providing incredible opportunities and mentorship during my time at Duke.
Upon graduation I accepted a position at Bellevue Hospital as Research Project Manager for an R01-funded study evaluating the effects of Aprepitant on heroin addiction. I enjoyed the job but yearned to dance more and was missing out on auditions and opportunities available only during working hours. With some help from Colleen, I negotiated flexible hours and eventually left the hospital to perform with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
After that I went on to perform with the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, the World Tour of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Queen of the Night (sister show to Sleep No More), the Broadway Dance Lab, the AEA lab of Requiem for Mr. B, Busch Gardens, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Disney developmental workshops, fringe festivals, contemporary companies, and ballet companies.
During the pandemic I returned to Durham as a part of the inaugural class of Duke’s MFA in Dance and completed a research project on flow states, self-objectification, and dance pedagogy. Following graduation I continued to teach ballet in the local area, served as vacation swing at Phantom of the Opera for the reopening through the closing, and continued provide individualized choreography/coaching through my consulting practice, Save the First Dance.
In 2022 I joined the faculty at Elon University as a Limited-Term Professor in Music Theatre and moved to a tenure-track position in 2023. My work life consists of a combination of teaching, service, leadership, choreography, dancing, and research - all areas of study/practices that I began to hone at Duke ~15 years ago. I am so grateful to Duke and the Baldwin Scholars for preparing me for this winding path and am always curious to see where it leads next :)