Graduation Profile: Finding a place that fits

Vashti Goracke, B.F.A. in dance, Class of 2015

Vashti Goracke has a bittersweet relationship with dance. Some days are good, some days are bad. There can be lots of pain. But she wouldn’t trade anything for the ability to tell stories and say whatever she’s thinking and feeling through dance.

Goracke’s journey through college has been a rocky one. After a difficult-to-diagnose injury at a different school, the Kansas City senior in dance took a year off to heal. When she returned, the school wasn’t going to let her graduate. Determined to graduate with a degree in dance, she set out to find a more encouraging and open environment to hone her passion.

Within two weeks, Goracke had gone from thinking she would have to stop dancing to moving to Lawrence and starting classes at the University of Kansas.

“I loved the dance faculty at KU. They were so encouraging and welcoming,” Goracke said.

Goracke (far right) performs a solo in "Human Next: Phase Two" during the University Dance Company Concert, fall 2014.
Goracke (far right) performs a solo in “Human Next: Phase Two” during the University Dance Company Concert, fall 2014.

She was lucky to have a smooth, but quick, transition. She found something else at KU as well – physical therapy for her injury.

“The injury I have is PTSD of the muscles, and the environment I had been dancing in was not good for me,” Goracke said. “But here at KU it was extremely different. Here, they push you and aren’t easy on you, but it was a whole different attitude about dance. It was inspiring and fun again.”

Here, Goracke also found an environment welcoming of her other passion – film. Where previously her interest in integrating dance and film had been rejected, she again found the opposite here.

“I’ve found that KU is really out of the box as a school, and I think that’s part of being at a research institution,” Goracke said.

Goracke is actively pursuing both of her passions after graduation. Her ultimate dream, to tell cinematic stories from beginning to end without words, through movement only, is already in the works. She started her own production company, YACO Productions, in 2009 to make dance more approachable and easier to access for the general public.

Goracke performs as Clara in the Lawrence Arts Center's production of "The utcracker."
Goracke performs as Clara in the Lawrence Arts Center’s production of “The Nutcracker.”

“I don’t want to take people away from the stage, but I think it will help drive them there,” Goracke said. “A lot of people don’t get to see concert dance in a creative way, but maybe in the future they could.”