Dance runs in our family. My sister and I grew up knowing how fond of dance my mother was, and at a young age started attending the same studio she did, focusing on ballet, tap, and jazz with other children of the same age group. The passion and emotion I saw in my mother as she helped teach us the different postures and steps transferred over to me. My parents even bought me a video compilation of Michael Jackson videos and so I could memorize and perform his routines.
Once a year we would have a grand recital at the Orpheum in downtown Omaha where we would perform several dances in front of thousands of family, friends, and fans. The scariest part of the experience was being on stage in front of all those people, with bright lights shining down on me, not being able to see the audience or how many people were watching. But it was also the best part. It helped me gain confidence and taught me how to express my emotions through “dancing like no one is watching.” Once you’ve experienced it, you can never forget that feeling.
I danced for the studio for 13 years, until high school brought a new set of interests and experiences. Similarly to how my mother still does arabesques across the house, I still dance every chance I get and cannot fathom a life without being able to express myself in that way. Whether it is professional ballet, street dancing, or busting a move at work – it is something I love doing and will continue to do for the rest of my life.
The arts have been a huge influence in my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Karli Kristina Burt was born and raised in in Omaha, Nebraska. She danced for 13 years starting at just age 3 for Pat Carlson’s Dance Studio focusing on ballet, tap, and jazz. She received her undergraduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is currently pursuing her masters at The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health. She is currently working at UNMC as an administrative projects associate. In her spare time, she enjoys being active and doing anything outdoors, especially if it involves boating, fishing, or being in the sun.
I grew up in a restaurant family. My mother and father served everyone, from the common man to Hollywood legends and heads of state. They simply loved to bring a smile to the faces of those who entered their restaurant. I always figured that I would follow in their footsteps. I simply didn’t have much skill at sports. In school, I was the definition of average.
Then, in 7th grade I was brought face to face with my future. My junior high director gave me a tenor saxophone and a tape of the great Stan Getz and asked me to play in the jazz band. From that day on I was obsessed with music. At first my passion was performing. I started playing with big bands when I was 13 and over the years, I have had the honor of playing for two presidents and hundreds of thousands of people on four continents. I have played with legends such as Tony Bennett, Lou Rawls, Natalie Cole and the Temptations.
But it was the influence of my teachers and mentors in college that instilled a passion in me to teach in higher education. Since 1996 I have been living this dream. First, at the University of Texas at Austin, then at the University of Tennessee and now back home at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Each day I get the pleasure of working with incredibly talented young men and women and help them discover their own voice…their own passion.
Over the years I have watched my students go out into the world to spread not only their wings but also their message through music. Some have become excellent educators in their own right. Others have toured as professional musicians. Each has added a special piece to my life. Teaching is technically my livelihood…but it is so much more than a means of support. It’s my life, my passion and my identity.
Paul Haar is active as both a performer and educator in the jazz and classical idioms. He has performed with such luminaries as: Tony Bennett, Lou Rawls, The Temptations and Michael Buble. Performed with the Austin Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Ashville Symphony and Omaha Symphony. As an educator he has presented clinics and masterclasses on four continents all to critical acclaim. A native of Fremont, Nebraska, Dr. Haar returned in 2004 to become the Director of Jazz Studies and the Associate Professor of Saxophone at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln.