Finding Balance

Finding Balance

Biology major and dancer Kendall Norberg choreographs the demands of scientific discovery and artistic performance.

Two photos of Kendall Norberg performing an experiment in a biology lab and dancing on stage
Right: Kendall Norberg performing at the annual Orchesis dance recital in January. Left: Norberg working in the lab on her biology research project.

Balance has been a key theme of Kendall Norberg’s life for as long as she can remember. Norberg is a fourth-year biological sciences major with minors in psychology and dance. She began taking ballet classes as a toddler and hasn’t stopped.

When she’s not grand jeté-ing across the floor or tip-toeing en pointe, Norberg can be found in the lab studying the effects of a polymer called polyethylene glycol on the stabilization of an enzyme called horseradish peroxidase — essentially attempting to develop paper tests for diseases that can be used by medical professionals in the field and in developing countries.

Norberg has to manage her time carefully to balance school, undergraduate research, Greek life, and dance. She’s also training with Cal Poly’s Orchesis Dance Company in preparation for several big performances. Still, Norberg makes time for her passion.

“I need to dance. It’s not a matter of if I can manage it or not. Dance is the way that I work out, it’s the way that I forget about stress, and it’s my escape,” she said.

Norberg says that in her younger years she spent more time in her dance studio after school than in her house. Her formative ballet studio was very strict, and so she found herself out of her comfort zone when she joined the dance classes at Cal Poly and took a mix of different styles. “It was very, very different than what I had grown up in,” she said. “It’s about not just learning dance but learning how to work with other people and the process of creating.”

Dance has been an incredible foundation for her studies, Norberg said. It has taught her commitment, determination and time management. Performing on stage made Norberg comfortable giving presentations, which she does frequently in her biology major. She enjoys the strength she has developed from being both a dedicated athlete and scientist.

Norberg plans to attend graduate school and is still deciding what field to enter. She pictures herself becoming a researcher and also teaching dance.

“I know what dance is to me. I know what being a woman in STEM means to me. And I feel very empowered,” she said.