Student Spotlight: Student faces adversity with hip injury, leading to risky senior project

Student Spotlight: Student faces adversity with hip injury, leading to risky senior project

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A theater major at the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology suffered a hip injury, forcing him to find a different senior mastery project since he couldn't dance anymore.

He decided to think outside of the box, and in typical theater fashion, he went big.

"I chose four different musicals, which were Hairspray, Chicago, Les Mis and Rent. I was going to take a number from each of them, choreograph it and showcase it. Well, it ended up I took five or six numbers from each of them and I choreographed an entire show," senior AAST student Connor Britt-Tripp said.

His hip surgery limited his senior project plans in dance, so he decided to try out a different role in a risky project.

"I went to Mr. Leighton and I was like, 'Can I direct a show?' and his original response was no because that's a huge thing," Britt-Tripp said.

He added students have asked to direct a production before, but it fell through. This time, Britt-Tripp was determined. He said AAST doesn't focus on dance as much as acting, and he wanted to bring his passion for dance to the forefront as part of his project.

"The coolest thing to me was bringing my vision to life. I got to see my work put on the stage and, you know, people performing that and my choreography and the ideas that I had, and I had never had that before, so that was definitely something," he said. "But being a director is definitely something I might want to do one day."

Britt-Tripp said with the help of his teacher, Mr. Leighton, he pulled together a show in a month-and-a-half. It became an entire production, long enough for a 10-minute intermission as his senior mastery project.

He had a cast of 23 fellow theater students who danced to numbers choreographed by Britt-Tripp. They did each others' makeup and found costumes in the school's theater closet and Goodwill.

Britt-Tripp's 11 years of dance experience paid off, in that he was able to teach the dances to others. He also learned a lot about himself during the course of the project.

"I learned that when I put my mind to something I can see or have a vision, there's no limits," he said.

Britt-Tripp came to AAST from another Grand Strand high school two years ago. He said there, theater wasn't as encouraged as the arts are at his current school. He's thankful for the chance to freely be himself, and it's helped him get to where he is today.

"Coming to this school has turned me into this person I never thought I'd be. You know, when I went to that high school, I was scared of who I was and telling people who I was," Britt-Tripp said. "Being a dancer I was, you know, at that school a lot of people weren't OK with guys being more feminine or being a dancer, and at this school they welcomed me with open arms and let me be the person who I was without being judgmental."

Britt-Tripp plans to head to New York City in the fall for college. He said he wants to go to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy or Marymount Manhattan College, but hasn't decided. Dance will be his focus, and he hopes to grow his talent by working in theater on cruise ships after college.

Then, he plans to someday make it on Broadway, or become a choreography teacher.

"If you live your life in the shadows, in the dark, you're never going to get anywhere," he said.

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