It was an assignment she didn’t want that changed Kara Liotta’s (B.F.A., Dance, 2008) career path. In her Dance Pedagogy course, each student was assigned a form of movement to lead a class of their peers. Lyn C. Wiltshire assigned Liotta to teach yoga.
“I don’t know what she thought I could benefit from by getting yoga. I’d never done it before,” Liotta said. “I spent the semester studying yoga and taking classes. It’s funny because that class is what got me into yoga, and yoga got me into fitness.”
Liotta is now the creative director of Flybarre at Flywheel in New York City, creating and planning fitness classes that are taught across the country. She also works as a trainer for Nike and as a fitness model with more than 13,000 Instagram followers.
“Now , I’m very grateful for that experience,” she said, laughing at how upset she was at the time.
Wiltshire has stayed in touch with Liotta and recalls this, too.
“I remember her sitting in the office, looking at me wide-eyed. She struggled, but she taught one of the best classes in any of my pedagogy course,” she said. “She came up against her fear of something she didn’t know. What they don’t know doesn’t in any way diminish who they are. It means they just do not know it yet. It doesn’t mean you can’t know it.”
But that isn’t the only course from her time in Winship that Liotta pulls from to create ballet barre fitness classes.
"It is not a cardio dance workout but the form and fundamentals behind the class come from ballet fundamentals and training,” she said. “While I was at UT, there was a big focus on anatomy. When I train our trainers, I have to be smart about the body. Those anatomy classes were a huge help.”
A scroll though Liotta’s Instagram feed also makes it clear she still uses those dance skills in fitness modeling—her flexibility, turnout and perfectly pointed toes (even in sneakers) on full display.
"Because of my dance training I have greater flexibility and body awareness. I have skills that allow me to take great photos with proper form and clean lines. My training as a dancer makes me more well-rounded in my fitness career," she said.
Wiltshire said this takeaway is a main goal of the Dance program.
“What we really teach here is movement education. Dance is the artistic aesthetic applied,” she said.