To earn her black belt in Hen San Ryu karate, Cassidy Dangler spent three grueling days running for miles, meditating and doing karate for hours in the cold October rain of her hometown of Waterville, Maine. And she did it when she was 10 years old.
“It was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do,” says Dangler, a sophomore majoring in music theatre. “Whenever I’m having a hard time, I think, ‘If I can do that, I can handle this.’ Martial arts gave me the confidence to pursue theatre and come to South, which is life changing for someone who hopes to move to New York and pursue acting.”
Dangler brings this same commitment to the stage in the roles she plays. “You have to let yourself go completely,” she explains. “It can be very emotionally draining, but very rewarding.”
Besides martial arts (she now has her third degree black belt), Dangler started dance lessons at age four. Always a performer, she discovered a passion for acting and singing in high school. She represented Maine in the Distinguished Young Women program in Mobile, and through that program found South.
“I fell in love with the campus,” she says. “And there’s more opportunity here to get main stage experience. I was cast in a musical production of The Addams Family soon after I got here.”
Dangler’s campus activities include Chi Omega, SouthFit, and several honor societies, but acting remains her foremost passion. She says what she loves most about acting is the chance to be someone else.
“When I’m on stage I’m living in it,” she says. “It’s so fun being another character and affecting an audience — making them laugh, cry or think.”
Dangler was named “Best Newcomer” in the theatre program as a freshman, and last summer got her first professional job at the Peach State Summer Theatre in Valdosta, Ga., performing in the ensembles of Les Misérables and The Little Mermaid. Last fall, she starred in her first nonmusical drama, the University’s production of Boy Gets Girl, which she describes as “an intense and amazing experience.”
After she graduates from South, Dangler hopes to work in shows at Disney World and eventually move to New York City.
“Broadway is my goal, my dream job,” she says. “There’s something about seeing how you’re affecting the audience, to make people happy or think about serious subjects, to take someone into a story and take them to a different world. That’s what I love.”