Senior Carson Simpson prepares to move forward in artistic journey

University of Iowa dance and business double major Carson Simpson will graduate in May. He looks forward to his future arts administration endeavors, but back fondly on the four years he spent dancing at the UI.


Isabella Cervantes

Carson Simpson poses for a portrait at the Field House in Iowa City on Friday, April 29, 2022. Simpson is a double major in dance and business, and is a part of the Iowa cheer team. Recently, grad schools have reached out to him for arts administration.

Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

From a high school theater kid to a passionate dance major, and now as a future arts administrator, University of Iowa senior Carson Simpson has had quite the artistic journey.

Whether Simpson’s taking the stage or advocating for arts education, the performing arts continue to be a key value in his life.

Simpson will graduate from the UI this May and is currently considering graduate school options for arts administration. He has applied to programs at the University of Southern California, Boston University, Yale, and New York University.

Simpson didn’t begin dancing until his junior year of high school. To add a competitive edge to his theater involvement, he said he wanted to be a “triple threat” — meaning he could act, sing, and dance.

Once Simpson started dancing, he said he never looked back. Beginning in ballet, tap, and jazz classes, Simpson especially fell in love with ballet because of its straightforwardness and lack of interpretation.

“For me, I love the rigor, I love the discipline of it,” he said. “Especially in ballet, I like the black and white of it. There’s a long line of history with ballet that I fell in love with.”

Shortly after starting dance, Simpson decided he wanted to study it in college. He prepared for his UI dance audition with private lessons and made it into the program.

Simpson said during his sophomore year of college he decided that though he loves the dance world, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be a professional dancer.

Related: Student Spotlight: First man on the UI dance team

By the spring semester of his junior year, Simpson landed an internship with Mark DeGarmo Dance, an organization aiming to bring arts education to New York City public schools. Simpson was responsible for creating a showcase and fundraising, an experience where he said his passion for arts management and administration came to light.

“That’s where I really think I found my niche arts administration thing. I really value education and I really think it’s important for kids to be exposed to the arts at a young age,” he said. “As I continue on, that’s a big emphasis that I want to have within arts administration, is just the education aspect.”

Simpson plans to move to a large city like New York or LA, and said that he is nervous and anticipates some culture shock. However, he looks forward to the “vibrance” and “liveliness” of performing arts in a big city, Simpson said.

For his final year at the UI, Simpson joined the cheer team after a friend told him they were looking for more men.

“I wanted to spice it up,” city, Simpson said. “I wanted to try something new, and the spirit squad and being a cheerleader allowed for a performative aspect that I really missed with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Balancing a dance degree, a business degree, and being on the cheer team his senior year, has at times been difficult to manage, Simpson said — but it has also been more rewarding than anything else.

“I’m really happy with how my senior year went,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”