WMS people

Alumni Spotlight: Emily McArdle, ’99


I remember half-joking in middle school about wanting to be a starving artist when I grew up. Although I’m not starving, I am one of those extremely lucky people whose career happens to also be a lifelong passion. One particularly memorable Washington Montessori field trip was to The Warner Theater in Torrington, CT where we saw the Washington-based dance company Momix, perform Baseball. I had always loved dance, and seeing a professional company showed me that it could also be a career. Thus, I aspired to become a starving artist.

Thanks to my parents’ sacrificial support, I was able to not only train in both ballet and Irish Dance (at the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts and the McArdle School of Irish Dance), but also to receive an unparalleled education from Washington Montessori School, and later at The Taft School.

Upon graduating high school, I realized my dream and spent half a year on tour with Momix. Three weeks in California and a month in Europe gave me my first taste of the touring life, and I was captivated. The dancing was fun and challenging and I was learning at the young age of eighteen what it means to spend life on the road. There were certainly challenges that came with living, working, and playing with the same ten or so people for months at a time. It takes patience, willingness to compromise, and an open-mindedness to all different types of life and work habits; all virtues that had been part of my education at Montessori through working so often with other students.

After a brief hiatus from the touring life, which I spent training and dancing at the

Washington Ballet in Washington, DC, I found that I missed Momix work. I also began to crave the sense of adventure that tour brought.

Returning to Momix, I performed in their newest show at the time, Lunar Sea. The next three years took me to such interesting and amazing places as Hawaii, Chile, Brazil, Italy, Spain and Russia, as well as bus rours across various sections of the lower 48 states. In this time, travel became as strong a passion as dance.  I loved going to a place for a few days or a few weeks and exploring as much as possible before it was time to pack up and move on to the next place. I made friends with theaters crew members, restaurant owners, and other locals in various places and continued to be thrilled by my work.

Just over a year ago, I left Momix to pursue something a bit different. I joined the national tour of a new musical, called Magic Tree House: The Musical. Based on a book series for beginner readers, it was an opportunity for me to try something new.

I learned a little about acting and singing and worked with a whole new group of people. As a relatively large show, we traveled with a larger crew than I was used to on Momix, which changed the structure and dynamic of tour life. Always happy to be learning, performing, and traveling, Magic Tree House: The Musical was really just an extension of my work at Momix.

After nine months on the road, the end of Magic Tree House was bittersweet. I am now left wondering what to pursue next: dance, musicals, perhaps finally go to college? Although looking ahead to the next chapter of my life leaves me a bit apprehensive, my overall disposition is one of excitement. I know that whatever my next job is, wherever it takes me , I will never lose my love of theatrical arts, or my desire to constantly be on the move.