Life after Community: Marly Spieser-Schneider


Marly Spieser-Schneider and her fellow dancers rose up from the audience as Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” began playing over the speakers. They were opening the Dance Body Spring Recital Spieser-Schneider’s senior year.

When Spieser-Schneider pitched the idea to Deborah Sipos-Roe, the Dance Body teacher, she was sure she wouldn’t like it. Spieser-Schneider thought she would say the dance was too goofy and the song was inappropriate. But to her surprise, Sipos-Roe loved it: she thought it was fun and wanted to have it open the show.

Dance Body had two groups within it: the dance class and the dance company. Spieser-Schneider spent her first semester at Community in the dance class, which met three days a week, and auditioned for the company second semester. The company took up both fifth and sixth block, so Spieser-Schneider spent her afternoons in high school dancing.

“It was so amazing for me because I could have that be part of my academic day,” Spieser-Schneider said. “I could be in algebra and then go dance for two hours.” Through the company they took classes taught by Sipos-Roe, learned dances for the company and choreographed their own. Students from Pioneer and Huron came to Community to participate in their dance company as well.

After graduating in 2005, Spieser-Schneider went on to study dance at the University of Michigan, where she graduated in 2009 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance.

Spieser-Schneider has submitted a grant to bring back a teen pre-professional dance group similar to Dance Body. Dance Body had a powerful impact on her. It was essentially a free studio, and a safe and fun space to explore dance and herself, and now Spieser-Schneider is bringing it back for the spring 2019 semester.

Spieser-Schneider hasn’t heard back about the grant yet, but she is willing to run the program either way. “If I get the grant, it will be easier to do costumes and things like that, we will have a little bit more freedom in that way,” Spieser-Schneider said. “But as long as I have space, I’m willing to run it.”

The class would have a similar concept that Dance Body had when Spieser-Schneider was a dancer in it. She’d like to include technical training, group pieces, and individual choreography. She also likes the idea of allowing dancers to teach their own classes.

The fall after graduation, Spieser-Schneider and her friend, Nikki Polizzi, packed up a car with plans to drive across the country. They took Highway 2 from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Seattle, stopping in Canada on the way. The pair drove to San Francisco, where Polizzi stayed while Spieser-Schneider continued her journey.

“I made it a project that — because I was doing a figure eight — in eight of the cities I stopped in, I made dances with people that I knew there or that I met,” Spieser-Schnieder said. “I ended up performing not all of them, but some of them.” She made dances in San Francisco, Seattle, San Antonio, Pittsburgh, New York City, Baltimore, Maryland, New Orleans, and Ann Arbor.

Spieser-Schneider didn’t get home until early December that year. In the spring, she went out to Vermont to audition for a small dance company that one of her professors connected her with. Spieser-Schneider got into the dance company and moved to Vermont in late June of 2010. In addition to dancing, she helped manage a deli, worked on a farm, and completed her certification to teach Iyengar yoga, which entailed a day and a half long test.

Spieser-Schneider came across the farming job on Craigslist. She worked on a small family farm twice a week doing whatever was needed, from weeding the garden to helping care for the animals.

The year before she moved back to Ann Arbor, Spieser-Schneider lived in New York City. While she was there she taught dance and became interested in education. She loved New York but wanted to be able to see her family more. Spieser-Schnieder decided to move home to Ann Arbor.

“I was in a place where I really loved New York, and I really loved Vermont,” Spieser-Schneider said. “But I was starting to feel like I wanted to be closer to my family. And the options were either I make a ton of money, so I can go home whenever I want, or I live at home and I visit these places.”

Shortly after she moved back, Spieser-Schneider’s close family friends retired from running the Community Farm of Ann Arbor. With a background in farming and education, and a dream to expand the educational aspect of the farm, she decided to apply.

Spieser-Schneider was hired and is now one of the farm managers and is the director of the educational nonprofit connected to the farm called “Chrysalis.” She works on building the nonprofit’s relationships with the Neutral Zone and The Corner Health Center. Through the organization she works to make healthy food, cooking classes, and health education more available.

“Good, healthy food is often only available to people with a lot of money, but it’s something I think everyone should have,” Spieser-Schneider said.

Along with the farm, Spieser-Schneider teaches Iyengar yoga around Ann Arbor. Over the summer, with the busy farming season, Spieser-Schneider struggled to find a time that worked for her to have a consistent class, so she has been subbing and running workshops. She hopes to schedule consistent classes at a studio over the winter since she will be less busy with the farm.

Through her work with the Neutral Zone and the Corner Health Center, Spieser-Schneider has discovered that she enjoys working in environments where the focus is on making resources available to people. Keeping this in mind as she moves forward, she could see herself working at somewhere like the Neutral Zone and Corner Health Center.

“I also have a lot of big dreams about nonprofits. I’m a bit of a stickler for what I want to do in the dance world,” Spieser-Schneider said. “I don’t really want to just work at a studio; that’s not really the environment that I’m interested in. And I don’t see myself wanting to be a college professor either. I like the idea of teaching at a public school or even a couple classes at a studio.”

As she moves forwards, Spieser-Schneider keeps her mind open to what may come next. “I know myself well enough to know that something very unexpected might come up and I may go for it,” Spieser-Schneider said.