On Wednesday, Feb. 7, Upper School students sat down with alumna Hilary Thomas ’94 to hear about her professional journey. Both founder and artistic director of Lineage Performing Arts
, as well as a science teacher at Flintridge Prep, Thomas spoke about the unconventional path that led to her satisfaction through her work today.
Thomas started out as a ballet dancer in Pasadena and performed in and choreographed many productions during her time at Poly. When faced with the tough decisions regarding her life after high school graduation, she felt she had to choose between professional ballet and college. She ultimately decided to pursue psychology and dance at Santa Clara University. This choice, along with her discovery of her love for modern dance, provided a new perspective on how she could incorporate dance into her life.
Upon graduation from college, Thomas was unsure of her next steps but, as always, came back to dance. After putting together a dance show to benefit Young and Healthy in Pasadena, Thomas and her fellow performers were inspired by the success of the program and donated shows to other organizations — ultimately touring the country to raise awareness and funds for a wide variety of nonprofits. After years of hard work and dedication, the traveling show transformed into Lineage Performing Arts Center
, a nonprofit in its own right that started in 2010. Thomas described the organization and its space as “meaningful and rewarding, a true home for artists.” She is passionate about the idea that dance is for anyone and everyone. “Dancing can bring you joy that you didn’t know you had,” she remarked. “It is so important to make it accessible to all people.”
In addition to working as the artistic director for Lineage, Thomas also teaches seventh grade science and eighth grade human development at Flintridge Prep. Thoughtful and creative, she often uses her science background to come up with innovative ways of incorporating dance into people’s everyday life. After researching the human brain and the therapeutic effects of dance on people with Parkinson’s disease, she created a class at Lineage called “Brain in Motion.” Starting as a group of just three students, the class has since grown to almost 30 people of all ability levels. Thomas loves to bring people from different communities together in a safe and healing place.
Thomas closed her talk by imparting some advice to Upper School students: “Just say yes to everything in the beginning. My choices guided me in ways that I couldn’t imagine at the time, and my life has evolved because I was doing what I love.”