Each June, Dartmouth Now profiles a number of students who are about to graduate.
Trained as a classical musician from the age of 6, Sean Gao ’13 of Houston, Texas, has become a devotee of dance—and not classical ballet. Gao is a swing dancer, and even gives lessons in this improvisational social “samba” with a boogie-woogie beat.
“I first started dancing when I got to Dartmouth and not a day before,” says Gao. “I went into it because of a girl I liked, but stayed because I found something special in the dance. I was bitten by the dance bug.”
Gao speaks of having had “a metric ton of classical training,” studying and performing on the piano worldwide, but this left him “unfulfilled and confused.” As dance slowly took over his life, Gao’s harmonic horizons broadened.
At Dartmouth, he stopped pursuing performance piano and dipped into jazz. He studied composition during the 2012 Music Foreign Study Program in London. “There, I was exposed to a lot of digital music and digital composition and performance,” he says.
In addition to music and dancing, Gao’s work as an audio/visual technician at Collis Center both paralleled and complemented his interest in the digital and technical aspects of music making.
“After Commencement and until early September, I’ll work full-time as a day manager at Collis and then decide where to go from there,” he says. “I want to give myself some time to see if pursuing music will work. I’ll likely try to find environments to encourage the production of music.”
Recently, Gao has been exploring some deeper dimensions, such as why people dance; why they make music; and just what music is. “With such knowledge as may be gained, I will hopefully pursue my passion of making music as a producer.”
But counterposed to his artistic endeavor, his academic major at Dartmouth has been economics, and he poses the question, “Where does economics fit into this?”
“I don’t plan to be an investment banker or work on Wall Street,” says Gao. “But I do like calculating efficiencies. It’s useful for the future and, if my own music business endeavors fail, I might just use this experience to go to business school.”
Read additional profiles of members of the Class of 2013: