This Falcon set to be a Bruin and a Commodore

Senior, Blue Brigade 1st Lieutenant headed to Nashville to continue academics at Belmont, dance at Vanderbilt


Dave Winter

Falcon made history in a couple of ways. She became the first Blue Brigade dancer to join a college dance team since Sophia Salo in 2019, and she became the first Blue Brigade senior to hold a signing day ceremony on campus, according to her director Nancy Searle.

Helen Martin, staff reporter

As the first Blue Brigade member to join a college dance team in three years, Olivia Falcon knew she had to exceed expectations. Falcon was unsure of her plans until the end of her junior year, when she was first introduced to the prospect of continuing her dance career following graduation by joining college-sponsored dance teams.

When I found Belmont, I loved the school, I loved the area, I loved everything having to do with it.

— senior Olivia Falcon

“I didn’t know that there was an opportunity after high school to do something that wasn’t drill team,” Falcon said.

After four years of Blue Brigade and previous training at various dance studios and Fulmore Middle School, Falcon was ready for a change. Unsure of where to look first, she enlisted the help of former Blue Brigade co-captain Matthew Vargas.

“When I started going to clinics hosted by various college dance teams, I talked to him because I knew that was something he was interested in,” she said. “I started going to his classes over the summer and started pushing myself and told him ‘Hey, don’t let me go easy.’”

This dedication was inspiring to best friend and teammate Malakhi Washington.

“She’s an amazing person, one of the most talented dancers I know,” Washington said. “She is an inspiration.”

Much like Washington, Blue Brigade director Nancy Searle applauds Falcon’s ability to work no matter her circumstances. Searle cites this as the reason Falcon was able to become an officer, and how she wanted to just keep going up.

Falcon poses with her parents after signing her letter. Her father Robert Falcon challenged all of the seniors in the room—including Olivia—not to let high school accomplishments be the greatest achievements of their lives. He praised Olivia for putting in the work to be a great dancer since age 5, an effort that paid off with a national championship with her studio dance team. He ended the ceremony with a surprise for all the Blue Brigade dancers in the room—Olivia among them. The Falcon family is funding a $1,000 scholarship that will be awarded to a senior Blue Brigade dancer next year and each year after that. Estefani Tevalan-Alvarado.

“She always pushed herself. Being an officer wasn’t enough, she always wanted be the best she could,” Searle said. “ It wasn’t ‘I’m an officer, I’m here, I’m just going to hang.’ She would always push herself to still improve, still do better.”

A strong leader but also a talented dancer and a reliable friend, Falcon is a social chameleon, able to fit in with anyone. Since sixth grade, she and Washington have been inseparable, partly due to what Washington describes as “cords tied between us.” Ms. Searle agrees, noting that Falcon easily made friends with whomever she was around.

Olivia is an amazing person, one of the most talented dancers I know. She is an inspiration.

— senior Khi Washington

“She always made it a point to reach out to those that she didn’t hang out with,” Searle said. “I feel like with some kids you can picture exactly who they hang out with, but Olivia isn’t like that. She has close friends but she makes friends with whoever’s around.”

Despite her confidence in dance at McCallum, Falcon was nervous about being able to find a college dance team that was a good fit. To find her new home, she took extra steps to secure her spot in different coaches’ minds, ready to be the first on their list no matter what.

“Meeting coaches is really important,” Falcon said. “You never know if you’d like it until you’re in their shoes, in their facilities, seeing how they run,” she said. “Put yourself out there because you’re not going to get exposure if you don’t.”

Between more performance-based schools like UT and competition-heavy ones like Western Kentucky, along with many others over the country, including her future home at Belmont and Vanderbilt, Falcon had big decisions to make. The final choice rested on location. She knew she wanted to be in a city she loved, and while Austin and Milwaukee provided good schools, Falcon knew she belonged in Nashville.


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“When I found Belmont, I loved the school; I loved the area, I loved everything having to do with it,” she said. “It was overall a lot more compelling to me to go there, even if I can’t dance while I’m here, hey I’m in Nashville. I’m somewhere where I’m happy.”

Falcon’s situation is unique, however. She is heading to Belmont University, planning to study journalism to pursue a career in broadcasting and joining the Vanderbilt dance team.

“I knew that I wanted to go to school in Tennessee, but I wasn’t sure I would find a place that would work,” Falcon said. “Whenever I visited Belmont, I talked to some girls in the bookstore and found out they had a partnership with Vanderbilt.”

With some kids you can picture exactly who they hang out with, but Olivia isn’t like that. She has close friends but she makes friends with whoever’s around.

— Blue Brigade director Nancy Searle

Through a collaboration between the universities, she will study at Belmont while simultaneously dancing with fellow Bruins along with Vanderbilt and Lipscomb students.

Not only was Falcon the first Blue Brigade member to pursue collegiate dance after high school since Sophia Salo joined the Texas State Strutters in 2019, but she was the first Blue Brigade dancer to host a signing day ceremony.

Falcon, accompanied by Blue Brigade members and close friends, hosted her signing day on May 15 in the library. There, her father Robert Falcon also announced that the Falcon family will be establishing a $1,000 scholarship that will be awarded to a Blue Brigade senior every year.

The ceremony was orchestrated by Searle who thinks Belmont is the right place for Falcon too. Searle says Belmont is a place where she’ll be able to find her footing and then forge a path of her own.

“I can easily see her fitting in and not acting like a new member,” Searle said, “It’s exciting to see where she’ll go with that.”

The transition from Texas to Tennessee will be a difficult one, though, even if she’s ready for the change. After growing up in Austin, leaving behind the same things she’s seen for the past 18 years is proving to be a struggle.

“I’m just going to miss the familiarity,” Falcon said. “It’s really hard to know that next year I’m going to be somewhere completely different.”

Falcon will be leaving her friends, family, and everything she recognizes for an entirely new life. Despite this drastic change, Washington believes she’ll thrive.

“[She’s] going to do amazing things, and I can’t wait to see [her] continue and get better,” he said.