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she lived how she wanted to

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Haruka Weiser was a second-semester, first-year dance student at the University of Texas at Austin. It was early this past April and she'd called her roomie from her dance rehearsal to say she was finished for the evening, leaving the theatre building at 9:30PM for her five-minute walk to her dorm.

She had only a few more minutes to live...

The Austin Police Department identified her murderer-rapist and arrested him quickly, a few days later. Her burned backpack and laptop and journal were found where he had been tracked by surveillance cameras.

Haruka had been a "tiny powerful little spitfire", according to a magnet HS friend in Oregon, who hadn't started dancing until she'd been 13, very late for a dancer... but she was a natural talent who'd excelled so quickly that by 16 she was dancing professionally with Portland Ballet. She'd won a full ride at UT, a scholarship with the College of Fine Arts.

The image that stays with me powerfully is of Ki, who also was "tiny" and "powerful", who also won tuition grants for her art, and also --- early in April of her Freshman year --- would suddenly never make any more art for us; her hands and limbs also lifeless, we would not be able to watch any more of her writing and photographic art as it was growing and blossoming.

Ms. Weiser is no student I ever actually met, but she serves as a symbol for me, a symbol of all the dancers I ever designed ballet lighting for... she also will never create any more beautiful performances to share with us. And it resonates more deeply because I have attended rehearsals in the same space as Haruka, walked the same pathways on campus as she did, late last century... this was well before I had even met Ki --- first, as a cyberFriend, and later on our visit, again walking the same pathways, this time with her right next to me. At UT, the Performing Arts complex is very near the central Tower center of campus and only about a mile up the road from my home theatre THE VORTEX, which was founded by three theatre grad students who had classes in these same buildings.

Another of Haruka's friends, Jade, commented that "She lived life how she wanted to, and that's how we all should be."

And strive for... each of all our days.

:Blessings Be from Brad / Silverplate88 co-Mod


These pics and others, and a full story about Haruka, appeared in the April 25, 2016 issue of PEOPLE magazine: