Student pursues career in ballet and psychology


Midland junior Justine Tuma rehearses for the University Theatre Dance Company's performance on Feb. 11 in Rose Room 127.

Justine Tuma is known in the dance community for her flawless ballet performances at Central Michigan's University Theater Dance Company.

“Neither of my parents were dancers, but they were into the arts, so when my brother showed interest in dance, it was natural for me to follow," she said.

The Midland junior started dancing at 2 years old for a recreational program. Tuma said she followed in the footsteps of her older brother, who was also a dancer. Tuma is majoring in psychology with a dance minor, and has plans to use both in her career after college in dance movement therapy. She is also has interested in dance choreography.

“I won’t only be in a studio dancing, but I’ll be able to incorporate dance into my everyday career," she said.

Tuma primarily performs ballet, but she has fun doing contemporary and modern pieces as well. 

“Justine's choreography is thoughtful, fluid and a good representation of a growing and grounded art practice," said Dance Program Coordinator Heather Trommer-Beardslee.


Midland junior Justine Tuma rehearses for the University Theatre Dance Company's performance on Feb. 11 in Rose Room 127.

Tuma began her dance career at Dean/Black School of Performing Arts in Midland. Her passion for dance continued as she moved onto high school and started to compete. 

Her dance coaches have had a huge impact on the dedication she puts into the sport. Tuma said her teachers inspire her to remember who she is dancing for. 

“I always have to make sure that I am dancing for myself and that I enjoy it,” Tuma said.

Along with schoolwork, Tuma was the dance teacher’s assistant and started teaching others. 

Now, Tuma spends most of her time between classes rehearsing for the dance company concert that is performed this spring. 

“One of Justine's strongest qualities is her ability to express movement," said Ballet Teacher Andrea Purrenhage. "She digs deep into the choreography and stays true to the emotion of each (piece).” 

Tuma is also working on collaborating with another student to choreograph a dance.

"I would love to choreograph professionally for dance studios and possibly own one myself one day," she said.