When MTV asked Eve Mason, 2008 dance and business graduate, to teach dance on an episode of MADE, she accepted a new student with red hair like herself and no dancing experience.
“I did think I could have an impact on this girl’s life in some kind of way and it’s five weeks out of my entire life,” Mason said. “Why not just take the opportunity and experience?”
MTV first contacted Mason the first week of November and then interviewed Mason, who lives in L.A., over Skype. Mason said within the next three to four days, she was offered the opportunity.
“They told me that (Laura) wasn’t looking to be a professional dancer, but looking to express her emotions and tell her story through movement,” Mason said. “I wasn’t aware of what her story was until I got here.”
At their first rehearsal, Mason asked Laura why she wanted to become a modern dancer. She told Mason that dancers have confidence and can express themselves — two missing aspects in her life. Her low self-esteem, Laura explained, stemmed from her poor body image issues, which resulted in an eating disorder two years before. Mason helped Laura not only learn a dance routine, but also how to accept her body.
“It was a lot of confidence building and a lot of me making her force herself to look at herself in the mirror and watch videos of her dancing, and giving positive feedback on them and some corrective criticism as well, because it’s not just, you know, rainbows and flowers because we also had to work on something.”
To help Laura feel more comfortable with her body, Mason took Laura to a dancewear store. Laura tried on tight, revealing clothing at the store.
“I wasn’t trying to be too forceful in having her dress a certain way but just enough so she would be comfortable and a little bit outside her box to help her start appreciating her body,” Mason said.
In the dressing room, Laura told Mason if she was thinner she would feel better about herself stating that she wants to be able to see her ribs and hip bones. These feelings, Mason said, she thought, were in Laura’s past. She contacted professionals to see how she should handle the matter.
“I also think it was good that I was her coach because I am a curvy woman, and I’m fit but I’m a curvy woman,” Mason said. “I think it was a really good thing for her to see because a part of me was afraid that she wanted to be made into a dancer to be that then because in her mind dancers were that thin.”
After helping Laura through her emotional process, Mason realized she had to take some of her own advice even though Mason said she has never had an eating disorder.
“My words of wisdom to her actually helped me out a little bit in accepting who I was and my body and I am very happy with it,” Mason said. “Saying it to somebody else and having somebody else believe it made you realize that you needed to think the same consistently.”
After a total of three weeks of rehearsal, Laura performed her piece in front of an audience.
“I felt really proud. I felt like she was my little sister,” Mason said. “She did something she truly did not believe in herself doing. There was a moment before she went on stage that she looked at me and said, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ I knew she could.”
Mason said she left the experience as a more patient dance teacher. Mason lives in Los Angeles where she works for a dance company, Hollywood Vibe and teaches at three different dance studios. She also dances with the MSA Agency.
Mason’s friend, 2007 dance graduate Alexandra Wright, said that during Mason’s time at Webster, she was very respected and admired.
“Eve is sort of like a Webster dance legend. She’s the best of the best,” Wright said. “Everybody knew her and how talented she was. I don’t think there was a doubt in anyone’s mind that Eve would be extremely successful.”