“You were able to bring your own energy to class and discover it for yourself.”

Hettie Barnhill '06


Broadway dancer Hettie Barnhill lights up the stage and performs community work.

Broadway dancer Hettie Barnhill is a sensation, both on and off the stage. A performer in the Tony Award-winning and Grammy-nominated show FELA!, the Tony-nominated Leap of Faith and technically advanced musical Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, 30-year-old Barnhill was honored with the NAACP Leaders Under 40 award in the field of arts and culture in 2011.

She also received the Rising Star award from the Young and Powerful for Obama Group—twice—for exceeding career expectations at such a young age and for her devotion to community outreach, including work with A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit organization that uses art therapy and performing arts to end violence against women and girls. Barnhill was the only award winner representing the arts.

The East St. Louis, Ill., native attributes her success to hard work and Columbia, which she was able to attend through scholarships.

“Coming from East St. Louis, I was taught that there are no free handouts,” Barnhill says. “My family, friends, church and schools helped mold me into who I am today.”

She says Columbia led her down the right path and enhanced her connection to her passion: dance.

“You were able to bring your own energy to the class and discover it for yourself,” Barnhill says, referring to courses instructed by Erica Wilson-Perkins, a source of inspiration. She learned structure and improv at the same time, which later shaped her dancing. Diversity continues to be a part of Barnhill’s style, as she performs modern, tap, jazz and ballet.

Aside from Broadway performances and community work, Barnhill dances with The Just Movement Collective and Balance Dance Theatre, and has choreographed for MTV, BET, International Wow Theater and NBC.

Adapted from DEMO magazine, issue 17

Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

Looking for an event near you?

If you can’t make it to campus, don’t worry! We have a full schedule of events all across the U.S. and around the world.