Elise Wulff

Clinician, Actor, Choreographer

2009 Alumni

Biography

Theater and Psychology, 2009
Boston, MA
Clinician
Artistic Associate/Resident Choreographer, Heart and Dagger

Current Activities

Since graduating from Emory, I’ve pursued a career as a clinician working with children, young adults, and adults with autism spectrum disorders, specifically Asperger’s Syndrome (and similar diagnoses). I started working with special needs children as a Drama Therapist and, now, I work as the lead behavior therapist in a special education program for middle school students of the same demographic. I also work for Mass General Hospital’s Aspire program, a year-round support program for children and young adults with Asperger’s and similar profiles. I also see clients privately to offer support with in-home therapeutic interventions for the individual and the family. Outside my clinical work, I coach both field hockey and lacrosse and choreograph the school musical.

The year I graduated Emory, I moved back to Boston and was invited to become an Artistic Associate/Resident Choreographer to help start a new theater company called Heart and Dagger. Our mission is to produce modern works with an emphasis on dance and creative use of movement. As we close out our second full season, we are thrilled to report exponential growth in ticket sales and an outpouring of positive feedback and support from the Boston community. Our last production, ‘Polaroid Stories,’ by Naomi Iizuka (my full-length directorial debut) was hailed as “THE production to see this summer.” When not producing, directing, choreographing, or acting with Heart and Dagger, I perform as featured dancer and vocalist with Voices of Hope (www.voicesofhopeboston.org), a nonprofit organization that raises money for cancer research through musical theater cabaret performance. With this group, I have been a dance and vocal soloist at Symphony Hall and the Shalin Lui Performing Arts Center.

Highlights at Emory

Not a day goes by that I do not credit my experience with the Emory theater department for laying the foundation for my current success. In my time at Emory, I was president of the our chapter of the National Theater Honor Society (Alpha Psi Omega), President and PR chair of the student musical theater organization (Ad Hoc), a performer with Theater Emory, and a work-study student for the theater department.

In retrospect

My Theater Studies degree truly prepared me for life after graduation. As a professional, I use the skills I developed and honed in my time with the Emory theater department in every moment of every day. I was trained to care for my voice, body, and mind and taught to understand them as invaluable tools. Because of that, I present myself maturely and confidently in both public and private venues. Frequently, senior professionals call upon me to represent my programs at public speaking opportunities because of my vocal clarity and expressivity.

My academic experience in the theater department at Emory was of the highest quality, with emphasis on objective analysis and innovative creativity. We must understand the past to assess the present and prepare to move into the future. I carry that with me in all clinical work I perform. During artistic productions, I was asked to collaborate with professionals (those on the faculty and those invited to audition from the greater community) of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences. I was always treated with the utmost respect, as a performer and student, and the faculty and staff expected nothing less than the highest standard of excellence in the classroom and beyond.

To prospective students

The structure of the theater department at Emory gave me opportunities to learn and immediately apply classroom training to professional scenarios. Students in the theater department have copious opportunities to perform in an impressively diverse range of theatrical productions. Professors acted as coaches, mentors, and peers during productions, which gave them the opportunity to offer direct support and feedback to integrate the education of the classroom into relevant practice. In addition, the exposure to the professional setting allowed me to build my leadership and collaboration skills years before peers in other majors. In any production with the theater department, professors and all faculty and staff taught me the value of my opinion and, more importantly, how to express myself so that others are best able to understand my thoughts and perspective. I learned time management and how to prioritize both my professional and personal life to feel rewarded in both. It was only upon graduating and entering the ‘real world’ that I realized how significantly more mature I was than those of a similar age with regards to these skills, a direct result of my time with theater at Emory.

The theater program at Emory gave me a home away from home where I was enthusiastically challenged and encouraged to find my own path – personally and professionally. Faculty and staff put tremendous effort into developing a relationship with each student, and those relationships immediately impact our dedication to both our studies and associated creative endeavors. When it came time for me to consider concrete career opportunities after Emory, my advisor and other faculty provided countless hours of individualized support to examine my strengths and weaknesses and discuss how I could translate those into a rewarding professional path. I credit the theater department at Emory with setting me on the path to personal and professional success.