Most college students find it hard enough to balance classes, the occasional club activities and their social lives. Keene State College junior Jacob Chiza somehow balances being a safety major, a midfielder on the KSC men’s soccer team and training and performing in dance showcases held by the KSC dance department.
Chiza’s first interest in dance was cultivated in an afterschool program in elementary school called Bring It, a program combining dance classes with homework study and soccer.
Chiza said his experiences at Keene State College with dance are his first professionally choreographed dance performances.
With a background interest in hip-hop style dance, Chiza tries to combine both hip-hop and modern dance elements in his performances.
“[When] I first met Jacob, he was in a beginning to modern dance course, and he really just stood out for his enthusiasm, dedication and commitment. It was a wonderful class in general; there was a really great comradery in the class,” Cynthia McLaughlin, contract lecturer and dance professor at KSC, said.
“His attitude is really infectious. I think he really just developed this passion for dance really quickly,” she said.
“To me, it makes me focus more if I have a lot of stuff on my plate,” Chiza said, when asked on how he balances his busy academic schedule and passion for dance and soccer. “[They are] commitment[s] that I made, so I have to follow through, so basically that just pushes me to work on it.”
Rick Scott, the KSC varsity men’s soccer head coach, describes Chiza as a hard worker and a teammate who can take on whatever is thrown at him.
“He would be a guy that Bill Belichick from the Patriots would love because he can do so many things well. He can play a lot of different positions on the field, and when you put him in in any one of the spots, he does a great job,” Scott said.
“He’s not intimidated, he’s not, ‘Oh Coach, I don’t know if I can do this.’ It’s just an, ‘Okay’ and he just jumps right in.”
Chiza not only can balance soccer and dance as activities, but can attribute dance to helping his balance on the field, a fact backed up by both Scott and Mclaughlin.
“From what I see, he manages [balancing soccer and dance] very well. We talk a lot about how his musculature reacts to what’s required of him as a varsity soccer player as opposed to dance and I know he has said dance has helped him [on the field],” said McLaughlin.
Scott said, “[In dance,] there’s a lot of balance, there’s a lot of agility, there’s a lot of coordination and I actually think it helps his game with soccer.”
Last year, Chiza was featured in both the Choreography Showcase in the Redfern Arts Center and The Evening of Dance performance, initially events that intimidated him to add to his already full schedule.
“[With] Evening of Dance, soccer [and] safety [classes], at first I was like, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this,’ but then I told myself, ‘I can do it, I can do it,’” Chiza said. “Just keep pushing myself, don’t give up on anything.”
Chiza had auditions for this year’s choreography showcase this past weekend.
“Everyone in the dance department said I don’t got no choice [but to audition],” Chiza said with a smile.
Scott said, “I have to give him an awful lot of credit because he does well in soccer. He’s very well accepted, very well-liked by not only soccer guys, but by everyone…and he has the time to dance and he is very good at it and he gets it all done. It not done halfway, it’s done at 100 percent; there is no shortcuts.”
As for the future, Chiza can see dance continuing to be a part of his life.
“I’m just a person that loves dancing,” Chiza said. “What means a lot to me is the movement. If you understand it, it comes out like art. Most people just don’t get it because they don’t experience it the same as the people who are in it… I have passion for it, so it comes out like art.”
Meridith King can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org