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About Me:

My name is Olivia and I am a senior at Butler University. I spend most of my time in Lilly Hall as a BFA Dance Performance major. When not in rehearsal or ballet class, I write papers for my English Literature second major. In my super-abundant, never-lacking, this-is-highly-sarcastic spare time, I attempt to cook in my apartment kitchen, watch Youtube videos of ballet, knit sweaters that never seem to come to an end, and read books both silly and serious. If I could take any class at Butler just for kicks, I'd go for DiffyQ.

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Archive: January 2011

Skewed perception

What has the Midwest done to me? Yesterday was full of sunshine, slush-free sidewalks, and a notedly absent wind. It was practically balmy! I stopped by a friend’s room on the way to the car–we were going to study at a coffee shop before doing some grocery shopping–and asked to borrow a lighter coat. My heavy winter coat just seemed to get in the way.

Freshman year snow day

“It’s 34 degrees,” I said with some surprise, checking the weather once we were installed in the corner of the Monon Coffee Company in Broad Ripple. My friend’s sweatshirt, serving as my jacket, hung from the back of my chair. (Great service today, Monon Coffee. I got the decaffinated Earl Grey, though I’m also partial to their green jasmine tea.)

The response came with a smile and head shake. “Look what the Midwest has done to you.”

I paused, considered. “Oh no! This feels warm just because it’s not freezing!” Since when has thirty-four been balmy?

Doomdoomdoom. Headdesk.

Sigma Rho Delta’s annual gift

I just imitated a helicopter. Clearly, this weekend came in the nick of time. To retrieve my sense of dignity I will tell you about Sigma Rho Delta’s annual gift.

I am a member of Sigma Rho, the honorary dance fraternity. It is open to all dance majors and minors who hold a certain GPA and perform service hours to the department. Since the organization is a service fraternity, it was only natural that talk of a yearly endowment or donation would have been in the works for some time.

Last year, as the pledge trainer, I attended officer meetings and was part of the discussion of the annual gift. We discussed who should receive it, on what terms they should receive it, how much they should receive… The list of concerns seemed to stretch into infinity, and I was joining the conversation late, as this idea had been bandied about for a while. Then, at the end of my sophomore spring, Sigma Rho did it: It donated a portion of its proceeds at the Nutcracker and Swan Lake boutiques to help fund the dance department’s first-ever summer trip to China.

This year, however, we have gone outside the university. Our philanthropy chair visited various dance schools and institutions, and at the last chapter the organization voted to donate $6,000 to the Jordan Academy of Dance. While JCAD is officially affiliated with Butler, Butler does not provide the dance school with any money, and JCAD has to pay rent for its space at the edge of Butler property.

As our Sigma Rho president wrote to the associate director of JCAD, “We were blessed this year to have the most successful Nutcracker boutique in our history, and because of this, we are able to donate $6,000 to the Jordan Academy of Dance. The mission of Sigma Rho Delta is to sustain the purpose of dance within our department, the University and within our community. We hope that with this gift your organization will be able to further the dance education of your students and contribute to the richness of arts in Indianapolis.”

Donating such a large sum is a huge success for Sigma Rho and owes thanks to officers and members both past and present. Strengthening the community beyond the Butler Bubble is an important aspect of college life that we sometimes forget, being so busy and wrapped up in our own issues. I’m proud to say I’m part of an organization like Sigma Rho Delta.

Up in smoke

I don’t smoke and doubt I ever will. Personally, I think it’s rather icky, and I can’t stand the smell. However, I never really notice too many students smoking on Butler’s campus, which is why the email we received a few days ago was pleasant but unexpected.

Once I had read the email, I began to recall conversations concerning the smoking ban discussion that occurred last year. Here’s what’s happening, according to the message from the Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and chair of the Smoke-Free Campus committee, Mary Andritz: “The University has modified its smoking policy to allow smoking exclusively in a small number of designated outdoor areas on campus and prohibit smoking while walking on all campus property. The designated areas are in locations outside of frequently traveled pathways and entrances to buildings.”

What do you think? I approve of the new policy. While I would like to ban smoking simply because I dislike the smell of smoke and the fear the health effects of second-hand smoke, I understand there are numerous issues with enforcement and safety and even civil rights. (Though what of my right to breath smoke-free air?) I think this will be a good compromise to protect the health of both smokers and non-smokers. Thoughts? Praise? Vehement disagreement?

Balanchine all week long

I do love me a Balanchine ballet. I performed in Serenade with the Richmond Ballet trainee program when I was a senior in high school. When I was a college freshman, the upperclassmen performed it at Butler. I was so jealous, since dancing in Serenade had been one of the defining moments of my performing life.

Now I am rehearsing Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht, a slightly more obscure ballet requiring twenty-five dancers (twenty-four of them women). Last week was the first week of classes, and it was definitely a tornado-on-the-rampage sort of week. Learning choreography requires (for me) a particular sort of mental concentration and physical exertion different from rehearsal of previously learnt material.

I described my first day back for the spring semester in the last few posts. Wednesday was day number two, and it saw another few hours of rehearsal after classes. I have a night class which meets Wednesdays on the literature of the American Renaissance (EN 341). Reading, reading, reading. We’ll tackle Moby Dick in three class periods.

On Thursday, there was the Intro to the Discipline of English class again (I rotated groups in true TA-style) and Romanticism (I still have neutral feelings on the class). Then ballet, then pointe, then… no rehearsal. Ms. Wingert worked with some of the other groups. I did homework like a fiend.

Friday was much the same: Dance history, our first choreography II class, ballet, and rehearsal until five o’clock. We finished learning Walpurgisnacht. The final section Ms. Wingert called “Fire in the Beauty Parlor” since we run around with our hair down. It’s great fun. I really enjoy moving in that particularly expansive, Balanchine way.

Saturday was more rehearsal; Sunday was more rehearsal. We don’t normally rehearse on Sundays, but I understand that we had to make the best use of our time with Ms. Wingert before she flew back to New York. I loved working with her, and I appreciate the opportunity to perform Balanchine choreography, since companies must apply to the Trust to license each ballet. But boy, are my toes sore today!

I hope this also explains the rather pathetic lack of photos in my blog. I have not had time to take new ones, so I’ve been using old ones I saved for this sort of situation… except sometimes they don’t quite match. Like today’s:

This is the HRC, the Health and Recreation Complex. I used the hot tub and pool to great advantage this past week. However, the lawn is currently covered in snow, not sitting all nice and green like it was when I took this picture.

Working all the time

This title is a phrase one of the dance professors likes to use, and this week, it has been very true. (This post is also the final section of the story of my first day back, horribly dragged out into infinite blog posts. Sorry.)

The Dance Department is honored to welcome Ms. Deborah Wingert from the Balanchine Trust. Ms. Wingert watched our ballet class (the first after break… ofgh!) and chose twenty-five women and one man for her staging of Walpurgisnacht. Meanwhile, we had a pointe class. Then those of us in the piece had rehearsal. For a very long time.

Ooof, I’m so terribly sore, and my toes might fall off, but I’m really excited to be working with Ms. Wingert. She is tall, graceful, and horribly kind, and she intersperses teaching choreography with little anecdotes about the people and events surrounding New York City Ballet. “My friend Wendy,” she says causally, of famed dancer Wendy Wheldon. Ms. Wingert worked with George Balanchine, and her insight on his choreography is invaluable. She even spoke up in favor of my hair color after one of the professors asked me if I had dyed it.

(Only a little bit…)

In all seriousness, I cannot speak highly enough of her, and I’m glad we get the opportunity to work with her as we rehearse for our Midwinter Dance Festival in February.

You might say my first day back was a bit of a whirlwind. I’m glad I read a biography of Balanchine earlier this year! I love (most of) his choreography. Serenade: Still my favorite.

Dancing in the springtime

The springtime? I am dancing in the new spring semester, since it’s snowing outside and the sidewalk salter/snow plow is performing complicated maneuvers outside my bedroom window. Figure eights. Loop-di-loops. Higgs boson outlines.

XKCD comic by Randall Munroe

Erm, my nerd moment is over. Back to the first day of classes.

After a forty-five minutes break for lunch, during which I located a microwave and reheated some curried tofu and chickpeas with spinach over rice, I had ballet. However, I did not get the memo that I had been switched into a different class. Not only was my registration wrong, but I was informed while I collected the million hairpins I had dropped in the middle of the hallway.

Despite the embarrassing nature of the information transfer, this was good news. Immediately afterward, I was intercepted by another professor: My pas de deux registration was not going through because I had to add the class by paperwork because I was giong over the credit limit. Whew.

When I finally made it upstairs to the ballet studio, we greeted a guest from the Balanchine Trust who has come to set a commissioned piece on the Dance Department students for our Midwinter Dance Festival concert.

Annnnd, I promise I will explain more, but I really need breakfast. I should also probably try to finish the reading that’s due in two hours. Thus far I have completed one book of poetry, a novella, thirteen poems, and one article. I have one article left. So much reading! I have never taken three English classes before, and I fear this is reflected in my rushed blog posts. Oh well.

Welcome back, ballet feet

Yesterday was the first day of classes, and all was a bit of a whirlwind. I had five classes/rehearsals, and apart from getting out quite early from my first class of the day, I was touting a full schedule. Welcome back, ballet feet. Nice to see you again, ballet arms.

EN 185: This was my first class. I must say, 9:30 is the perfect time to start class. I have a 10 o’clock MWF and 9:30 TR–I have such late classes this semester!–and I am currently in pajamas, eating cereal, writing this blog.

EN 185 is the Intro to the Discipline of English class in which I am the teaching assistant. I’m supposed to have times I’m available for appointments for writing and revising help. Maybe the day before an essay is due, I’ll hang out in Starbucks when I have time in the morning. I feel incredibly official, albeit slightly nervous.

EN 366: My Romanticism class ran for its full time yesterday. We read–guess who?–William Wordsworth. What a surprise. (Not.) I liked the professor, though I do find it odd that we will have a final exam in the class. I’m accustomed to writing long papers for English class culminations. With my BSI proposal and my never-ending revision of the Irish Lit paper (still!), I suppose I should be grateful not to have another long paper on my plate. Or in my mug of tea. My cup runneth over.

Whoops, cereal is gone. I shall continue the meandering tale of my first day back at Butler later. Time to put on real clothes and join the rest of society.

The salt of the earth is in my kitchen, on my floor

It snows at Butler. The maintenance crew puts salt on the sidewalks so students and faculty don’t fall down when moving from building to building in the freezing Indianapolis winter. This is much appreciated, since I like to retain the use of both legs. Dancing is much easier with all limbs fully functional.

In this case, I don't think even salt would help remove the snow.

However, salt gets stuck to shoes. Shoes walk on the kitchen floor. Ergo, the kitchen floor gets coated with salt, and it’s disgusting.

After scrubbing and scrubbing at the kitchen floor on my hands and knees with Magic Eraser, with vinegar, and with soapy water, I hit upon a solution. Put a mat next to the front door and remove wet, salty shoes upon entry! Simple, neh?

My two remaining roommates–the troublesome one having left for Nantes for a semester abroad, leaving us bereft but thankfully free from the horrid, horrid cupcakes she forced us to eat–were kind enough to agree to go along with this plan. I shall inform you of our progress.

The physics smackdown is over. Let the war with salty floors commence.

The Butler ducks don't have to worry about salt in their pond by the bell tower. I took this picture when I was a freshman and liked pretending to be a nature photographer.

When Arborio rice is necessary

Classes start in one week! Some students have been back on Butler’s campus for a while now for Greek recruitment. I, however, have been savoring the last days of winter break with my family. This requires a lot of sleeping. And reading, knitting, Skyping, tea-drinking, and dinner-eating.

Risotto, anyone? I tried to make this dish with a friend back during Fall Break. Apparently, brown rice is not a good substitute for Arborio rice. My mom, however, has the recipe down to a science and demonstrated her skills when my godfamily came to visit. Let me tell you. We feasted. And then we played in our firepit on the patio in our backyard.

And we ate it all.

With luck and a bit of bookish help, I will no longer make errors like my Fall Break, ill-conceived rice swap. My parents gave me a great book at Christmas called Recipe Substitutions. As one might expect, it contains ingredients and lists of possible substitutions. I immediately noted that brown rice is not listed under arborio rice. That would explain my al dente risotto.

Anyway, if you are the friend, family member, or frequent victim of a new college cook, a book like this is one good gift you might try. I rarely have all the correct ingredients. I rarely have immediate access to a grocery store to rectify the error, not having a car. I also rarely have the good sense to decide whether an ingredient may be swapped for another or not.

Determined to stay on topic

This post WILL be about my apartment’s living room and restroom areas. It will. I got rather off-topic last time talking about one of my favorite things–books. I should be fine this time as long as I don’t mention books, ballet, rabbits, knitting, or playing with Playdough. All favorites of mine. All highly distracting.

Here is the other side of my living room area in my residence place where I live on campus with three other junior girls in Butler’s Apartment Village. As I said last time, the living room area–unlike the bedrooms–comes completely unfurnished.  We had to provide all you see in the picture: sofa, coffee tables, decorative vase, decorative pillows, decorative roommate.

The living room area is carpeted, and one wall (the one you see the background of the above picture) is painted a dark sort of gray. It’s really pretty and would match pretty much anything. Nice touch, Butler. It’s nice not to be surrounded by white walls all the time. Very homey.

Also, the central window is HUGE. I managed to miss it in the above picture, but the photography documenting our Christmas decorations will do nicely.

My bedroom is just behind the grey wall, and one of my roommate’s is next to mine. Two other roommates are on the other side. For each set of bedrooms is one bathroom and one sink area. Thus we total five sinks (because there is one in the kitchen) in the apartment. That’s a 1:1.25 human to sink ratio! (Right? Oh dear. It will really embarrassing to have passed calculus-physics only to mess up that comparison.)

There are two sinks just outside each restroom, one for each resident. Will you believe it, this is first time I’ve ever had a sink to myself since I was three years old? The freedom to be as tidy or as messy as I want is intoxicating…

I stayed on topic! Hooray! Thus ends my protracted tour of my residence this year. If you’ve missed the beginning posts, I’ve listed them below. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to lurk on Skype.