Performers use the term “triple threat” to refer to someone who excels at all three disciplines: singing, acting and dancing. Here at Oldfields, one could consider Arts Chair Carrie Hammond another type of triple threat. Teaching, advising, and raising her two young boys, Ms. Hammond weaves her work and life together effortlessly, like ribbons on a pointe shoe.
Arriving on campus nine years ago, Carrie came from Dancemoves Studio of Dance in Whitemarsh, Maryland, where, after running the competition team for 13 years, she was ready for a change. “I realized the hours were 4-10 p.m. everyday. I wanted that time with my boys.” Anticipating a career change, Carrie enrolled in UMBC’s master's program, earned her teaching certification, and had her second son Zachary - simultaneously. She had never really considered working in independent schools, but Oldfields was introduced to her by her dance teacher, and she has not looked back. By the end of her first year at Oldfields, Carrie had 25 girls in her after-school dance program. She remembers the sense of accomplishment when she fit all of them on the OS stage for the spring concert. Although she was starting over, Ms. Hammond had already made her mark at Oldfields.
Growing up in South Baltimore, Carrie started dancing at the age of five and was competitively dancing by eight. She remembers spotting a flyer in the grocery store advertising dance classes, tearing off the number, and showing up in her very best Easter dress on registration day. With the help of an incredibly supportive family, Carrie quickly found a second home at Susan Ina’s Dance Studio. Carrie’s grandmother was one of her biggest fans. “She was a fixture in the dance studio, always sitting in the lobby right near the secretary.” Her grandmother would pick Carrie up from school, feeding her a bacon and cheese sandwich, her favorite meal. What started as a weekly ballet and tap combo class turned into two classes, and then three nights, and before she knew it, Carrie was dancing every day.
At Oldfields, Carrie chooses pieces that best fit her dancers- both by ability and personality. Her numbers are “serious in the fall, and more jazzy and fun in the spring.” Carrie started OS Dance Company, an audition-based group of the more experienced dancers, at the start of her second year. The group meets every Sunday night after dinner, working not only to prepare pieces for the winter and spring concerts, but to submit numbers for conventions and events in the area. Carrie’s dancers have been participating in the state-wide dance convention since her first year, when she entered a number from her ballet class into the gala and it was accepted. Carrie is always looking for opportunities for her girls to perform off campus. She says, “If I wanted to challenge my older girls, I needed to show them what was out there.” Carrie did not stop at the state-wide conventions. Four years ago, she started Independent Dance Network (IDN). With the help of AIMS, Carrie and four other dance teachers from independent Maryland schools come together each year for a dance festival. They hire outside teachers, lead workshops, and the dancers take classes in all genres. “It’s amazing for my dancers to see girls who really nail it, and then also to see those who struggle. And they meet dancers who do what they do at their own schools and get to share these similar experiences.”
Who inspires her? “People I have never met, and people who have taught me what I know.” Carrie’s biggest influence was her dance teacher Susan Ina. In her 60s now, Ms. Ina still teaches all of her classes in a leotard and tights. “She didn’t just teach you dance. She wanted you to take it with you - to go off to school, to study the arts, to become a dance teacher.” If you ask Carrie about her teaching, she will tell you that she cannot imagine doing anything else. Ms. Ina’s encouragement has stayed with her as she continues to educate and inspire young dancers, while also taking time to do what she loves most: be a mom (and the biggest baseball fan) to her two sons, Jackson and Zachary. OS’s triple threat with an epic soundtrack, Ms. Carrie Hammond has brought out the beautiful dancer in so many of our Oldfields girls.