January Arts Spotlight: Mia Hennum ’22

In the past year and a half at Vermont Academy, Mia Hennum ’22 has participated in basically all of the performing arts VA has to offer. She has starred in multiple shows, is part of the dance team, she sings in the vocal ensemble and was a member of the Fall Morning Mist team. 
Head of Theater Arts, Mr. Dan Burmester, said, “Mia is a leader in our theatre program. She is a dynamic performer with passion, dedication, and love for this art form. Due to Mia's presence the people around her, our shows and programs are elevated. We are so lucky to have her here.” Vocal Instructor, Ms. Ashley Storrow added, “Mia is a wonderful balance of absolute joy and positivity when singing with focus and dedication to the craft!” 

Dance Coach, Ms. Amy Lanterman noted, “Mia is a very talented dancer. Her passion, determination, and experience add a great deal to the dance team. She is supportive of her teammates, and her hard work during practices and respect for the instructors make her an example for the other dancers. Mia is a dynamic performer and her natural grace and flair are evident whenever she steps on stage. Mia is a star!” 

Digital Art Teacher and Morning Mist Producer, Ms. Meredith Friel said, “Mia was a wonderful new addition to the Morning Mist this fall! She brought energy, creativity, and a sense of confidence to every practice and shoot. Mia came up with one of the community's favorite segments, where she asked people to finish the lyrics to various jingles, songs, and viral videos. I was always impressed with her willingness to go out on a limb and try something new. I am excited to see how she continues to grow as a creative force on this campus!”

What arts are you involved in at Vermont Academy?

I am involved in a lot of different arts at Vermont Academy. I have participated in vocal ensemble for both my freshman and sophomore year, along with doing Almost Maine, Begets: Fall of the High School Ronin, Check Please, and The Internet is Distract-oh Look a Kitten!  I also take part in the amazing dance program here in the winter -- which I am the co-captain of. 

When did you first figure out that you had a passion for the arts?

I was fortunate enough to be able to grow up in the theater since I was a toddler because my mom is a theater director at MoCo Arts in New Hampshire. So I got to see the older kids thrive in the art environment, whom I looked up to so much. 

As I have gotten older I have seen talent blossom in my role models and wanted my talent and skills to grow too. My parents encouraged me to be interested in all types of after school activities like lacrosse and soccer, but nowhere felt like home, like the stage does. So when I had to make the choice in middle school of what my priorities were for after school activities, I knew it was acting, dancing, and singing. I have been fortunate enough to have adults and peers support me as I have grown as a performer and MoCo for fostering my love for the arts. 

What arts do you participate in in the Keene area? 

A majority of my arts participation is at MoCo Arts. I partake in the teen musical theater where we put on musicals such as Footloose, Legally Blonde, A Christmas Carol, and Rent. I have always dreamed of having a lead in my mom’s musical theater program for as long as I can remember, which has pushed me to get better. I have also participated in MoCo’s straight musical theater program last year and I played Emily in Our Town and Alice in You Can’t Take It With You, both shows are classics that were such an amazing experience to be a part of, especially because You Can’t Take It With You was a multigenerational show. 

In the summer I take part in an arts summer camp at MoCo called C.A.K.E. where we put on the production of Matilda and I played the role of Matilda. But I also was in a Berklee musical theater intensive this past summer. Finally, I take dance classes at MoCo year around, those classes focus on ballet, modern, hip hop, and jazz.

What art class has been your favorite at Vermont Academy?

I am a sophomore so I haven’t been able to take many types of art classes during the academic day. But I do participate in vocal ensemble year around which is so much fun! It is so nice to have a break twice a week to just sing and create beautiful music. I also do dance at VA in the winter, which makes me so happy because it is a great group of people that I get to enjoy one of my favorite activities with. (I will admit gladly that dance is not a sport, it’s an art form, but it still takes a lot of athleticism haha.)

This fall I also participated in Morning Mist as my afternoon activity. I had a lot of fun and was able to get a great introduction to the digital arts and its importance in the modern-day. 

What is your favorite medium?

My favorite medium, without a doubt, is acting. Not only is it a medium of art that allows me to express myself in ways more than words can describe, but theater has been a warm home that has welcomed me in some of the toughest times in my life. 

It is both a feeling of being my most authentic self when I perform, but also getting to escape to someone else’s life and experience. I feel this freeness to express myself and every part of me feels comfortable on stage. Every fiber of my being rejoices when I get to hear the audience laugh, applause, or bring tears to their eyes, there is no other experience like it. 

I have also had such amazing experiences and learning moments that I could only have been a part of with theater. Being an actress and a cast member also brings great leadership qualities and community building moments that I hold very dear. Getting to dive in a role that I get to explore and make my own experience of is the most fun, especially when it is hard work. Theater makes happier than anything else.

What is your favorite performance that you have been in at Vermont Academy?

My favorite performance at Vermont Academy… a hard question! If I had to choose, I think it would be Begets: Fall of the High School Ronin. Not only was my part of “Inside Girl” such a fun challenge to tackle but I am also just so proud of what I accomplished! 

I had three back-to-back performances in May. The Vermont Academy performance was my second performance in May, and instead of feeling defeated if I messed up a line or two, my whole cast gave me a round of applause for being able to manage all (what felt like a million) lines that were ingrained in my head. The cast of Begets also made it so much fun, I was also more familiar was the arts community, and I got to see other community members experience the magic that I feel in the theater. 

My heart soared for the classmates who I could share that joy with. The show was so goofy and I got to see my friends and classmates grow as actors on stage but also create such a fun supportive theater community like no other, it was an amazing experience.

What is your favorite thing about Vermont Academy?

My favorite thing about Vermont Academy is how supportive everyone is. In a big middle school class, I was a little ostracized for being the theater girl. Anyone who knows me I always talk about being awful at sports, it is almost funny how bad I am. But with the arts do, I could recite monologues or dance for hours if anyone would let me. So when I came to Vermont Academy I was really nervous I would have the same experiences here as I did in middle school, but I feel the opposite. 

After Almost Maine I prepared myself for my classmates to make jokes or ignore me, but instead I was crowded with “congratulations” and “good job!” from every person. VA cheered the Almost Maine cast on, just like they did for our varsity sports teams which meant so much to me. So despite the fact that I will never make a goal in soccer, I feel just as successful and important in the arts at Vermont Academy.