Editorial by: Emily Zager
I had the pleasure of discussing the art of dance with classically trained ballerina Liz Grams of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Liz, 23, is a graduate and dance team alum of Marquette University and currently works as an account coordinator for a public relations firm. She has enjoyed studying dance, exploring the industry and performing for the past 20 years.
Her devotion to dance began at a young age. “I got involved with ballet when I was three, and it just took off from there,” Grams explains. “I’ve tried and done everything: ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern and pointe.” She is classically trained in ballet, which is her preferred style and passion.
When Grams was a seventh grader, she traveled to Orlando and enjoyed many exciting events that Disney World had to offer. While there, she witnessed the Universal Dance Association (UDA) College Dance Championship. She remembers “watching those girls, and realizing that that would be all I want to do with my life. So, from that point on, that became my goal.” A bright and ambitious young dancer at the time, Grams decided she would work towards earning a spot on a collegiate dance team.
While studying at Marquette University, Grams’ dance career flourished and thrived as she continued taking classes and began performing with the school’s official dance team. She cites Sarah Zeisser, a jazz and hip hop choreographer at Marquette, as another major inspiration in her dance career. Zeisser is the former coach of the nationally ranked University of Wisconsin-Madison Dance Team. She coached at Madison, owns her own studio and is also a certified yoga instructor. “She’s definitely one of those ‘do-it- all’ types of people, and an all around good person to be around and learn from,” Grams says.
Grams ultimately fulfilled her goal and propelled her dancing dreams forward. She auditioned and made a Division I college dance team at Marquette University, and continued to actively perform and support her squad for the entire duration of her college career. Throughout four years, Grams strengthened her leadership skills as captain of the team and loved traveling the country with the select team. “It was everything I ever wanted,” she smiles.
Currently, Grams has geared her talents towards the public relations industry in Milwaukee. She misses the fast-paced nature of her dance journey, and seeks balance and happiness through both worlds. “It’s been difficult keeping up with dance now that I’m in the real world,” Grams expresses. “But I’m definitely always keeping active, always stretching, and staying limber. I think dance helps you learn how important it is to take care of yourself as a dancer and as a person. That’s just something I’ve taken away from the art overall.”
Going to the ballet and keeping herself in tune with the industry are important to Grams’ lifestyle. “I still really love and appreciate the art,” she says, and it’s apparent how much joy dance brings to her life. She has contemplated thought about the possibility of joining a professional team, but her ideas are still up in the air. “My career is definitely number one right now, so, we’ll see where that may take me.”
“One of the most influential teachers for me was Lori Romito,” says Grams. Romito, a former performer and faculty member of the Milwaukee Ballet, taught Grams for four years, and helped to hone her technique. Romito shaped Grams’ craft “in the best possible way, and helped me fine-tune my skills. She was definitely a huge inspiration and a really positive person in my life.”
Grams appreciates the way her dance career has evolved, and is grateful for many defining opportunities and rewarding experiences. She enjoyed performing throughout several Marquette University basketball playoff berths, which gave her the opportunity to dance in front of large crowds in celebrated arenas. One moment that stands out for her occurred while Marquette’s men’s basketball team was playing in the Big East Tournament. “I was in New York, on the center court of Madison Square Garden. It was one of those amazing moments that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Contributor Emily Zager is a 24 year old dancer and account executive currently living in Milwaukee, WI. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago and has trained in dance for over 20 years (ballet to ballroom). Nothing brings her more joy than the art of performing. She thrives off connecting with the world around her, whether in a face-to-face conversation or through social media.
Besides dance, Emily’s favorite things include traveling, sports, and spending time with friends and family.