Dancing Across the Bay

Posted on Sep 10, 2015

FOCBWhat do ballet slippers and hip boots have in common? Vanessa Van Duesen.

Vanessa, a resident of Cape Elizabeth and a sophomore at Barnard College in New York City, interned with us this summer. During the school year, she is a dancer in the elite Columbia Ballet Collaborative and has studied with the Portland Ballet in the pre-professional program and apprenticed with the professional company.

Vanessa has been working closely with Research Associate Mike Doan, doing daily and monthly assessments of water quality, filling in for vacationing volunteers at sampling stations around the Bay, and monitoring the acidity of clam flats. Vanessa also assisted other researchers, who are assessing eelgrass restoration, green crab predation, and the presence of pesticides in coastal sediments.

In past summers, Vanessa participated in intensive training with the Washington (DC) School of Ballet, Boston School of Ballet, and Gelsey Kirkland School of Ballet in New York. Her experience with Friends of Casco Bay has made her rethink her next summer internship. She’d like to continue doing research on the biochemistry of the ocean.

After graduating with a degree in Environmental Science, Vanessa confesses that she’d like to perform professionally “just for a while.” After all, how many ballerinas can pirouette in waders?