Paula MacDougall Profile


Ava Burrows

Paula MacDougall has been the advisor of WHS dance club for 29 years now. When Paula first took over Dance Club there were 8 members…that quickly grew to 25. Over the past 26 going on 27 years she has had as many as 65 students in Dance Club.

MacDougall was five when she started dancing. She attended Sylvia Reynolds School of Ballet. There were only ballet classes offered there. MacDougall attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, studying physical education with a concentration in dance and gymnastics. While there, she toured Italy, Greece, and Iran along with the University Dancers.

She started teaching Physical Education in 1975 at Clark Lane. She moved to the High School in 1983 but did not take over the Dance Club until the 94-95 school year. MacDougall is also an accomplished choreographer. Along with teaching Dance Club, she also taught modern/contemporary dance at the Dance Extension in Waterford for years.

MacDougall’s favorite style is Modern. Although she believes the term is hard to define and is lost now. MacDougall describes that the old Modern Dancers are now replaced by Contemporary Dancers. She loves Modern because, “I feel it is more gutsy and emotional and not so “vertical” all the time.”

MacDougall loves to give students the opportunity to love dance the same way she does. She states, “I love seeing the happy faces on all the students when they dance.” Previous Dance Club member and current assistant teacher of the club, Lauren Knowles talks about Paula and what she has learned from her. Knowles slates, “Paula demonstrated what dedication and passion looked like.” She explains that Paula hasn’t just taught her valuable lessons about dance but in life too.

Knowles describes that Dance Club has always had a very special place in her heart. It helped her grow immensely as a dancer, performer, and choreographer. She says, “I wanted to help continue the outlet for dance at the high school.”

She says that she can’t pick a favorite dance but she says that she has been impressed with many of the student choreographed pieces. MaDougall describes that her favorite finale was the Mary Poppins finale. She says, “We literally told the story in like 15 minutes. We had kites flying in the auditorium. It was great.”

Unfortunately, Dance Club numbers have been dwindling, The club had only 14 members this past year but still put on a great performance. MacDougall says, “I encourage many of you reading this article to consider joining Dance Club. Dance experience is not necessary. It is great fun to be part of a performance. Come and give it a try. Listen for announcements in September!!!!”