Carol Bristol-Henry Ph.D. Dance Student Known for Her Contributions to Compton

By Elizabeth Romero, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing

Carol Bristol-Henry, an incoming PhD student in Dance History and Theory, has already made a name for herself in the city of Compton, California. Known as the "teacher who always has fresh flowers in the studio," Bristol-Henry started her career of teaching in Compton in 2000 at Compton High School.

After seeing Compton morph into a city known for its "criminal acts, ultimately leading to the neglect" of the youth, Bristol-Henry added after-school dance lessons, along with her normal teaching position. Bristol-Henry states that "several students confided in me about not having alternate activities to gangs and other risky behavior, and that dance was their only reason for showing up to school every day." From a small size group of only three students at her after-school lessons, Bristol-Henry’s lessons quickly began to grow. Word spread, and prospective students from Watts and Carson began arriving.

She named her after-school program the Compton Dance Theatre Foundation in order to gain more funding and enable the program’s rapid growth. From its start in a high school auditorium, to a commercial space, to a brand new room given by the city of Compton, Bristol-Henry still believes it’s amazing "to see the pride the dancers feel when they walk in."

Just as Carol Bristol-Henry provided an avenue for students to display their creativity and to find a new outlet of activity, so UCR will provide her with a new channel for her own growth. As she takes on the field of Dance History and Theory, and as she becomes a fresh flower in the dance studios and seminar rooms of UCR, she will be able to bring her knowledge back into the city of Compton, to her students, and to the many others she will meet.

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