As a dancer, Calvin Biesecker is always thinking one step ahead: planning where he’ll land and how he’ll get there – and how that step will launch him into the next and get him where he wants to go. 

It’s no surprise, then, that he landed at the College. He knew it was exactly the move he needed to make. 

student practices tap in CATO dance studio

Calvin Biesecker practices in a dance studio in the The Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts. (Photos by Catie Cleveland)

“It just became the perfect match,” says Biesecker, whose family trips exploring coral reefs had cemented his decision to major in marine biology. “I saw that the College of Charleston was one of the best in the country for marine biology, so that was a huge factor for me.” 

There were other factors, too – such as the fact that his mother, Charlotte Wasmer Biesecker ’89, had danced as a student and could attest to the many dance opportunities the College and city had to offer. 

But when he was accepted into the Honors College’s Charleston Fellows Program, it was done: “I was like, ‘Well, that makes my decision really easy!’” 

And it’s been easy to find his footing since he arrived on campus. Not only has the rising junior been inducted into the Honors Society of Phi Kappa Phi and named to the President’s List multiple times for his academic excellence, he’s made connections that have propelled his dance career.  

Biesecker began dancing at a young age growing up in High Point, North Carolina, eventually moving into the competitive dance world and winning national awards in hip-hop, jazz and tap. It gave him a creative outlet and an appreciation for life – and taught him discipline, commitment and responsibility, too.  

My experience in dance has been an integral component of my life,” he says, “and the College has provided further incredible opportunities for my growth, development and enjoyment in dance.” 

A connection he made through the School of the Arts, for example, led to a job opportunity at the Musical Theater Center in Mount Pleasant, where he has been teaching hip-hop and tap classes.

“I really enjoy teaching,” says Biesecker, who is also active in the CofC Dance Alliance Club. “It’s given me some new skills and new experiences.” 

But it was another opportunity that came out of a SOTA connection – an unpaid gig performing as a lobby dancer for the North Charleston Pops orchestra – that pushed him to the next level. The orchestra later hired him for a show at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. The job

gave Biesecker more creative control than he’d had before: He wasn’t just choreographing his own routine – he got to choose the piece the orchestra would play, as well.  

Biesecker decided to perform to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” specifying that the orchestra speed it up to a certain number of beats per minute to make it more manageable for a tap routine. 

Calvin Biesecker at CATO dance studio

“Choreographing something that long was a big shift for me,” he says. “But I thought I could do enough with my feet to have enough of the tapping on top of it to make it a good piece – for me and the orchestra.” 

A month before the show, the North Charleston Pops contacted him again, this time asking if he’d be interested in partnering with another dancer for a Michael Jackson hip-hop number at the January performance. He lept at the opportunity, and he and his partner – CofC alumna and local dancer Jordan Benton ’20 – worked hard for three weeks to choreograph and perfect their “Billie Jean” routine.  

By opening night, Biesecker had learned everything he needed to put on a great performance – and have fun doing it. 

“I was able to perform live, for a huge crowd, with a beautiful orchestral accompaniment of my choice,” he says. “It was by far the most incredible and biggest production I have ever been a part of – just like this crazy, superstar experience!”

It was another step in the right direction.