Marla Edwards – Choreographer

Marla EdwardsMarla Edwards, the child of two history majors, grew up thinking history was boring. She was more interested in the pliés and pirouettes of classical ballet.

A dancer since childhood, Edwards finished high school in three years and was selected to train at the Houston Ballet Academy. At the end of the two-year program, she was invited to join the company of Ballet Arkansas. Today, she is the Ballet Mistress at the ballet company.

“After I stopped dancing, I knew I wanted to get my degree, so UALR was an obvious choice.”

Edwards graduated from 2006. Her major: history, with a minor in dance.

“If I had to pick a favorite class, it probably was a class on the Holocaust by Dr. (Thomas) Kaiser. I have had an avid interest in the Holocaust since I read Elie Weizel’s book, ‘Night’ in middle school. Dr. Kaiser was tremendous.”

Another favorite class was a seminar on the 1930s led by Dr. Vincent Vinikas.

“I had a personal interest in the class because I have copies of my grandmother’s diary from the 1930s when she was a young wife and mother. It was so fascinating to really see how she lived during this difficult time in our country’s past, and to compare her life to the broader historical perspective.

“The seminar format was interesting and invigorating. The ability for the students to discuss what we were reading and studying brought excitement and many new facets to our studies,” she said.

Edwards was a bit sad to have missed out on UALR’s new undergraduate dance program, but she is excited at the career choices dance majors will have, even when their performance days are over.

“Having a dance background and being able to teach dance is a very marketable skill,” she said. “The UALR dance program is bringing a great caliber of new people here that will help bring more dance education to the state.”

Q&A with Marla

What led you to UALR? I was led to UALR first when I was dancing professionally with Ballet Arkansas many years ago. We used the studio and theatre for our rehearsals and performances. My husband was also a UALR graduate, so it was an easy desicion to earn my degree here. I also have the desire to get my Master’s of Public History and UALR is the only university to offer this in the region.

If you could talk to anyone, alive or dead, who would it be? Why? I would want to talk to Elie Wiesel. He is a Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize Winner. His book “Night” is what inspired me to first love history.

When I was a child, I was always … dancing! In the living room, kitchen, anywhere I could find a small space to move!

What one word would you use to describe yourself? Optimistic.

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