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New Grad Brings Chemistry to Dance

Jaob Lyon

July 2012


The sound of applause, the heat of stage lights, the fluttering of a nervous heart and... bubbling test tubes?

Not the traditional mix, but it fits with the non-traditional life led by Jacob Lyon '12.

The combination of chemistry and ballet may seem incongruous, but Lyon thinks they actually go hand in hand. "Bringing a little science to the art and a little art to the science keeps things in balance," he explained.

Lyon, 33, earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry from St. Ambrose in May, just days before the final performance of his 10th season as a full-time member of Ballet Quad Cities.

Lyon began dancing ballet at 18, just as something to do with a friend. While working as a dance counselor in Vermont, he learned of an opening with the QC company. Two weeks later, he packed all his possessions, headed west and began work at the company where he would also meet his future wife, Courtney Lyon, the artistic director of Ballet Quad Cities.

Now he is a beloved member of the company, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

He started his educational career in his late 20s, realizing his body would not always allow him to dance, and said his passion for chemistry comes from a desire to make the world better "through science as well as art."

Dancing helped his studies. "I believe that the creativity required to be a good dancer can help a scientific inquiry when problems need imagination," he said.

In the fall, Lyon will begin graduate studies in chemistry at the University of Iowa, but will continue to dance as his schedule permits. He will carry what he gained at St. Ambrose wherever he goes. "It gave me an appreciation for a big slice of what life has to offer," he said.

Emilee Renwick

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