From the East Coast to the Little Apple: Dance instructor shares passion at K-State

Kate Digby has choreographed over 30 dance routines for her company Digby Dance, which have been presented across the United States, Canada and India. (John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

Most adults have at least one funny story to share about themselves as a child. For Kate Digby, assistant professor of dance, one of these stories is what led her to her career in dance.

When Digby was three years old, she watched a recording of the ballet “The Nutcracker” on television for the first time.

However, she did not just watch it once. Digby said she watched this show every day for nearly a year until her parents agreed to put her in dance classes.

Digby hasn’t always lived in Manhattan, or even in the Midwest. She comes from a Navy family, and she said she spent her childhood moving around a lot. Most of her childhood was spent in North Carolina, but her high school years were spent in Massachusetts, where she attended the Walnut Hill School for the Arts.

Digby’s passion for dance was put on pause when she decided to study molecular biology and biochemistry in college, she said.

However, without dance in her life, Digby said she felt her heart pulling her back to the dance floor. The next year, she returned to her more intense life as a dancer and went to Boston University to study dance.

“It’s hard when you take even a month off from your normal dance routine,” Digby said. “Although I had kept up with a couple of hours a week dancing, I had to train my body back to what it had previously been used to.”

So, how did someone from big cities on the east coast end up in the Little Apple? It all started when Digby was accepted as a dance instructor at Kansas State University.

Digby said she, her husband and her two children flew to the Kansas City area, meeting Digby’s mom and sister in town before soon traveling to Manhattan to start her job as an instructor at K-State.

As any move will entail, there was an adjustment to a new life. Digby and her family moved to a home within walking distance of a park, elementary school, K-State’s campus and local stores to shop at.

As Digby adjusted to her new life, she said she found herself becoming comfortable in K-State’s community and with her students.

“I love how students here are so willing to jump in and not hold back,” Digby said. “They are balancing work, social life and some have other degrees they are pursuing, but when they come into dance class, they give it their all and are driven, focused and mature.”

Digby said she enjoys teaching all levels and all styles of dance. She is an instructor of modern technique, improvisation, composition, movement fundamentals and more. Each discipline holds a place in her heart, she said, and working with students at different points in their training brings Digby happiness.

“In my beginner classes, I am able to meet new students who may be taking their first class,” Digby said. “I am able to watch their technique and performance grow throughout the semester.”

Allison Griffin, senior in psychology, said she appreciates Digby’s dedication to teaching dance.

“Something I appreciate a lot about Kate is when you’re in her classroom or working on a piece with her, you can tell amongst the dancers the amount of respect they have for her,” Griffin said. “She invests in each student. She knows our strengths and weaknesses and tailors her classes to our specific needs. We all respect that so much.”

For students that are unsure if a dance class is for them, Digby encouraged any interested students to just come and check out the program. There are classes available for all skill levels throughout the year.

Digby will be hosting one upcoming master class through KanDance on modern dance Sunday, April 14, which costs $2 to attend.