Mia Ingram ’21 NEWS Reporter
If someone could embody the Energizer bunny, it would be Jennifer Nelson.
Nelson, Class of 2013, is a graduate not only of the school but of its vaunted dance program and she returns regularly to her alma mater to serve as a guest choreographer.
Fellow alum and dancer Rose Olsen ’19, who worked with Nelson twice during her time at the school, said, “I had great experiences with Jennifer Nelson at Mercersburg. She was incredibly high energy, friendly, and focused while working with us in the dance studio.”
Nelson’s dance career took off here at Mercersburg, where she even performed a dance with a star football player. She then went on to study dance at Southern Methodist University.
Nelson’s favorite style of dance is ballet, which may be hard to believe for some, since she is so energetic, and ballet is more of a controlled craft. She calls it “the vegetables of dance,” since learning ballet first can later help with learning other styles.
Mercersburg Academy is still a place that Nelson holds dear, and she has returned to set pieces for the PGA dancers over the past few years. he said, “ I’m constantly amazed at how much passion, positivity, and grit each dancer carries. It’s really not about the technique – it’s about the sense of community and willingness to learn that makes good dance.”
Because it is currently hard to get gigs and opportunities in person during the pandemic, Nelson has mainly focusing on TikTok and Instagram in order to grow her platform, which has opened up many new opportunities and caused her to become a bit of an internet sensation. She really loves TikTok’s ability to give the dancer “dc,” or dance credit, since within the dancing industry many people have their work stolen. Nelson also loves that unlike auditions “where people get cut because of their size, skin color, access to training or money for fancy clothes, on Tiktok you can post a video in pajamas and the next day become an Internet sensation.”
Nelson went viral for dancing with her mom on the app, which got her featured in the very prominent publication Dance Magazine. Although it is based in the United States, it features famous dancers from around the world, but it also raises awareness about younger dancers who are trying to make a name for themselves. To be featured is truly an honor for dancers, as it provides a much larger audience.
Nelson said, “A colleague reached out to me about a NY Times writer doing a piece on Tiktok dancers. I’m just one of many incredible dancers featured so I’m humbled they used my photo as a full page spread. This clout has opened doors of opportunity for me as well.”
Nelson offered a final piece of advice for everyone in the Mercersburg community. “Be bold, be kind, and be unapologetically yourself. I would’ve never pursued my dream if I didn’t take risks while at Mercersburg, like choreographing a duet with the star of the football team. The sky’s the limit – you can do it!”
(You can follow Nelson on Tiktok at jennifermika_ or Instagram at jennifermika_)