Unscripted: Dancing to a different beat

Meet Miranda Heckman.

February 19, 2018

The evolution of dance.

Miranda Heckman created a one-of-a-kind dance performance featuring the Spokane River thanks to a community of campus support.

Senior Miranda Heckman (‘16, B.A. Biology; Minor, Dance) is a multifaceted student. She likes the sciences, especially biology. She thinks she would make a great high school teacher. And she has always loved to dance.

Much of why she came to Gonzaga was for the University’s close-knit community. Even so, she was surprised by how much encouragement she received when she approached Dance Program Director Suzanne Ostersmith during her sophomore year with an idea for a theatre performance based on her three academic loves: biology, teaching and dance.

This early support quickly grew into yet another example of the Gonzaga community—faculty and classmates—striving to help another Zag reach her full potential.

Miranda’s choreographed production, “The Dancing Spokane River,” was designed to visually depict the life of the river, teaching about its fish and their habitat, hydroelectric dams, and how to sustain this natural treasure. Miranda began writing her script under the steady guidance of Ostersmith, but others soon joined in to help.

One of Miranda’s fellow students composed an original music score. Dance class students collaborated on the performance. While researching script details, Miranda also got help from science professors, some even volunteering to view practice performances to ensure her scientific accuracy. Performance costumes were thoughtfully designed by dance lecturer Leslie Stamoolis. Miranda even developed lesson plans for classroom use to complement the production.

The play went live in local elementary schools in spring of 2015, receiving rave reviews from teachers and students alike. It not only put a spotlight on Miranda’s many talents, it guaranteed her a future filled with possibilities.

  • Academics
  • Service & Community Impact
  • Arts & Culture
  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • Biology
  • Dance