Katherine (Sammons) Tyler '08

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RU alumna dances her way to success in Nashville

Whether she is choreographing a dance routine for a pop music tribute band or rehearsing for a national beverage commercial, Katherine (Sammons) Tyler '08 said she is often reflecting on her experiences at Radford University.

Upon graduation, Tyler, a double-major in political science and dance, moved to Nashville where she has found success as a choreographer, a percussionist and, most recently, as a dancer with the national-champion winning indoor football team, the Nashville Venom.

Tyler came to RU from Roanoke, where she attended Glenvar High School. Much like her post-college career, she was an active undergrad.

She was involved in theater, the Young Democrats and the intercollegiate riding team. She still rides, shows and competes today, she said.

She recalls "fond memories" of studying with dance instructors Margaret Devaney, danah bella and Deborah McClaughlin.

"I'm constantly thinking back to classes I had with them," Tyler said. "They made such an impression on me."

 A highlight, Tyler said, was working in the RU production of "Pippin," for which Devaney did much of the choreography.

"It completely consumed my last semester of college, but it was amazing," Tyler said. "It is my all-time favorite musical, and to actually be performing it my very last semester – that was a really cool thing."

Tyler took most of her modern dance classes with bella. Having grown up in a studio taking tap, jazz and ballet, she said it was Bella who introduced her to the contemporary style of dance, "a totally new experience for me," Tyler said.

Tyler recently sent the RU instructors an email to update them on her whereabouts and to thank them for their dedication.

"I feel like these professors are so invested in their students. I feel like they really care," she said. "And that's probably why I do still keep in touch with them."  

Tyler carried her newfound dance knowledge to Nashville in 2009, where she changed her last name from Sammons to Tyler and started snagging dance and choreography gigs. She played the drums for pop/rock artist Kelsie Cameron, was a back-up dancer for a Prince tribute band and was cast in a national Bud Light commercial, which is scheduled to air this fall.

In January, she tried out for and made the Nashville Venom dance team. The team was new to the league and quickly set themselves apart from the pack. On July 12, they won the 2014 PIFL Championship game, 64-43, making them the first professional team to bring a championship to Nashville.

If her schedule doesn't sound busy enough, Tyler also holds s job in IT project management, which helps with cost-of-living expenses, a reality most artists must face, she said.

"It's difficult to be a working artist," Tyler said. "It's doable, but it's difficult. Any artistic field, you have to be really passionate about it to make it."

Tyler has definitely proved passionate about her dance career – rooted in a passion for Radford University.