Q&A with Performance Artist and CLA Alum Mette Towley

Portrait of Mette Towley,
Photo by Quinn Wilson

Known for her dynamic solo in N.E.R.D. and Rihanna’s “Lemon” video, Mette Towley is a performance artist and CLA alumna who majored in dance and earned a minor in cultural studies and comparative literature. Towley has performed as a company member in Black Label Movement and Ananya Chatterjea’s Ananya Dance Theatre before she began touring internationally as a dancer with Pharell Williams.

She has since appeared on stages alongside Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dog, Janelle Monae, J Balvin, and Jennifer Hudson, and she has been featured in numerous publications including High Snobiety and the New York Times.

Q&A: Mette Towley

If you could go back, what would you tell your undergraduate self? Do you have any advice for current TAD students?

I’d tell myself there are no limits. Stop caring so much. Stop worrying about what people think about you, including your professors. Know that your place in the world is defined by your work ethic, the choices that you make, and the dreams you choose to go after.

How has your time at the U influenced you as a dancer?

Because of the UMN dance program, I see who I am as a performer from many different vantage points and through many different lenses. I first came to the U with very limited dance training and could not imagine how my scholastic dance career would take shape. I never imagined I’d be working for my professors as an undergrad or presenting my UROP [Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program] research at national symposiums. All of that was possible because the U offered so many resources to help me take full advantage of my higher education.

What's next for you?

I’m so excited to be working on my first feature film this fall. I recently relocated to London to film. After years of doing music videos, the movie business is a thrilling new horizon!

This story was written by an undergraduate student in CLA.

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