Olivia ’12 RSS feed

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: May 2012

Getting a BFA

How useful is a college degree in dance?

It depends. It depends on your professional goals, your personal work ethic, and your degree plan.

Getting a college degree and then having a successful career in professional ballet/dance used to be an oddity — once upon a time, getting a college degree would indicate the opposite of employability. No more. Things are slowly shifting in the dance world; just as higher education is becoming more widespread in general, so too in the field of professional dance.

Where do you want to dance? Some companies and directors still dislike the idea of employing a college graduate. However, I think this tide is turning, and others embrace a more thoroughly educated dancer.

A college degree is not a certificate saying one has jumped through all the necessary hoops. A college degree is not a piece of paper representing four more years of training. Instead, it is an opportunity for a broad education, the possibility of learning not just technique, but technique in a variety of areas, history, acting, music, costuming, production elements, theory, choreography, improvisation… A college degree means you are exposed to a huge vault of knowledge sometimes unavailable to dancers who immediately jump to the professional world. Which brings us to the next point.

If you have ambitions of being a professional dancer, then you must have tremendous work ethic to make your time at college an asset. You can coast through college, just as you can coast through any other life experience — it is absolutely up to you to synthesize all the information you receive.  Attending college does mean taking yourself off the job market for four years. In a professional dance career, your youthful years are precious… since as we all know those ankles won’t hold up forever…

If you do go to college, you have to be committed. You have to inhale everything that is offered to you. If you do this, I absolutely think getting a college degree before dancing professionally is worth it. (I mean, this sort of attitude applies toward most things… But especially toward a college education in preparation for a career as a professional dancer!)

So when you think about whether or not you want a college degree as you pursue your goal of dancing professionally, consider your own skills, your work ethic, your commitment to a broad knowledge base (which, after all, is one of the biggest advantages of going to college), and the degree plan in question.

Do you want a program based in classical ballet? (Like Butler?) Do you want a program that also offers other techniques? (Which, in my humble opinion, and in the opinions of many other directors, is a very good idea.) Do you want a program with a focus on choreography? on pedagogy? on arts administration? A program that loads on as many elective classes as possible?

With the growing number of programs which offer a degree in dance, it’s slowly becoming easier to find a college program which will help, not hinder, your dreams of dancing professionally. I can say with certainty that I was not ready for the professional world straight out of high school. Now, with the diverse classes I’ve received in dance history, music, pedagogy, and so on, and with experiences performing a role like Swanhilda or a work like Por Vos Muero, I feel more ready than ever to start next season with Tulsa Ballet II, to try to produce the highest quality work I can, to perform as an artist, not as a tentative dancer holding her breath in hopes the piece will be okay.

Deciding to go to college before dancing used to be an unusual and not always helpful decision — but no more. Consider your situation very carefully when deciding if (and with what program) you want to study. But I can say I’m so happy I went to Butler for my BFA in dance performance!

The new dance BFA, BA, and BS degree-holders!

Sorry if this post sounds a bit admissions-pamphlet-y… I just like to think it’s my natural enthusiasm shining through!

 

After Graduation (i.e. Employment)

What does a dance major/English lit major do after graduation? After all, those two majors — a BFA and a humanities, liberal arts BA — hardly lend themselves to employment, right? WRONG.

This summer is shaping up to be quite a busy one. Besides my ongoing French independent study (which, yes, takes between two and three hours a day), I’m also preparing for two other short-term summer jobs. Also, I’m interviewing for another.

Also, I’m sorting through the mass of items I accumulated at Butler over the course of four years. This is what comes from never moving out completely, then suddenly transporting all of it home at once:

This was just the first load... Multiply by four, then square. That's how much stuff I am sorting/donating/etcing.

But back to the important things, those things your parents will ask you when you tell them you want to major in Dance Performance and English Literature… What kinds of jobs can you get?

This summer I:

  • am interviewing for a position as a substitute teacher at a local ballet studio. Teaching is always an option, even for those still in school, especially if you have taken pedagogy classes.
  • am dancing in the Southern Illinois Music Festival’s productions of The Firebird and Petrouchka.
  • am teaching movement classes at the Indianapolis Children’s Choir day camp.

Then in July it’s off to Tulsa to start with Tulsa Ballet II — time to return to the real world after four years of college. I suppose it will be a bit like my time as a trainee at the Richmond Ballet… but I guess I’ll find out when I get there. For now, I’m plenty busy writing pages of French, learning Firebird choreography off of Youtube, and developing the class plan for the ICC kids.

And those are the various odd jobs I’m doing this summer by virtue of my BFA/BA degrees! (Well, these are mostly from my BFA, but I like to flatter myself into thinking the BA helps me communicate clearly, an essential part of any job.) (Except, you know, these posts tend to be extremely rambling, so perhaps I’m not presenting myself to my best advantage. Oh well.)

Senior Week

As Steph already wrote, Senior Week is the last week between the end of finals and Commencement. Besides Commencing, I did a myriad of other things with my Butler friends.

For instance, I went to lunch with all the senior dance majors and dance faculty. Before we left, our very talented photographer friend was kind enough to take several class photos of us with some beloved Butler landmarks:

Later that night, I attended the senior champagne toast with President Danko and much of the rest of the senior class. Hink, our mascot, was also in attendance:

As Steph mentioned, we got letters we’d written to ourselves during Freshman Orientation. Others wrote about concerns, friends, housing… I did that too, but I also had formulated a theory of art, something about the audience becoming a living gallery after they leave the theater. It was interesting. It was also classic freshman-Olivia. Oh dear.

And I cooked for a last few times in my first kitchen with my boyfriend. We crafted an asparagus tart à la Forest Feast, though we used cream cheese instead of brie and crescent roll dough instead of puff pastry. Delicious:

On Thursday, I played with my friends on the mall. There was inflatable Twister, a moonbounce, those jump-y trampoline riggy things, a photobooth, a raffle, food (snow cones!), those huge human hamster balls, and, of course, Blue II and Trip. It was great fun:

It’s been fun, friends.

(Thanks for the pictures, Anna.)

 

Butler Commencement

So we graduated. The day was perfect — not the sweltering weather I’d been expecting, virtue of the example set by my high school graduation. We arrived in the West Gym in Hinkle Fieldhouse promptly at 9 am. I chased after various people to fix my graduation card, since they left off my honors in both my majors, though I have finished all the requirements except my French class for a core requirement… Oh well, I’ve been confused about my degree plan for semesters; why should it stop at Commencement?

So we processed, we listened to soulful speeches, and we sat for over an hour waiting for the JCFA, the sixth college, to be called. I played “I Spy” with a friend next to me. I clapped after my friends’ names; I smiled as my roommates passed by. Then it was my turn to stand and wind my slow way down the aisle, to mount the stage, to hear my name called, to receive my diploma cover and to shake President Danko’s hand, to run along the back hall of Hinkle in an attempt to get back to our seats before the ceremony finished. And we all clapped and processed (very slowly) out of the Fieldhouse onto the sunny, crowded sidewalks to take a class picture and find our families.

I said “diploma cover,” not “diploma.” Yeah, that last French class means I got a blank diploma until my real graduation in August. Whoops.

It feels surreal, like I haven’t actually graduated (well, I haven’t), like I’m not done with school yet (well, I just spent two hours on my French homework), like I’m still returning to Butler in the fall (well, I’m visiting during the summer)… I still feel like a Butler Bulldog.

I guess I always will be.

College: What I Learned

This past Tuesday, I took the Department of Dance’s comprehensive exam to qualify for high honors in my dance BFA major. (Ugh, the honors system is kind of confusing, is never fully articulated, and — for Latin honors — makes me really mad. Let’s not go there.) With a handful of other brave souls, I sat down to four hours and thirty-one pages of a test on all the required classes for the BFA major.

Required classes include:

  • Ballet Technique
  • Pointe
  • Modern Technique
  • Jazz Technique
  • Body Placement
  • Masterworks of Dance
  • Music Theory for Dance
  • Choreography 1
  • Choreography 2
  • Improvisation
  • Spanish Character
  • Slavic Character
  • Butler Ballet
  • Teaching Analysis of Classical Technique 1 & 2 (2 may be substituted for a different Teaching Analysis class)
  • Dance History 1 & 2

All the above had sections on the test. I was writing for the full four hours.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, actually. I know I messed up a few sections — for example, I totally had “B flat” as the answer to a key signature question, but I erased it and put “B minor.” Circle of fifths, you deceived me!

The section on Butler Ballet was last, and I (as well as many of the others) got rather nostalgic answering those questions. It was good to review everything I’ve learned over the past four years; studying for and taking the test brought all the pieces together, gave me a real sense of the breath and depth of what I’ve learned in my major.

Sentimentality.

And I finally saw Trip!

The Final Finals Week

I survived my last finals week of my undergraduate career! It wasn’t too bad, though I was pretty busy at the beginning of the week. The beginning of the week also marked my final Flip the Script!

Flip the Script is an event that SGA and the CPA (I think… please let me know if that’s wrong) put on during finals week. Basically, the teachers/faculty serve breakfast from 9-10 pm to the students in the Atherton cafeteria. There are usually raffles too, and this year they raffled off an iPad which my roommate really wanted to win. (But did not.) There were pancakes, hash browns, eggs, bacon, and pastries.

Battling my way through the crowds of people to get to the water cups really brings you back. I do not miss my cafeteria days — I’m so much happier not on a meal plan — but it was neat to relive the madness for a last time before graduating.

Also, the eggs were pretty good.

This year, both my English classes finished up before finals week proper began, so I wasn’t as stressed. I did study and take the huge comprehensive final for the Dance Department, plus I had French exams (written and oral), a Teaching Analysis of Classical Technique project and final, and a Theory and Philosophy of Dance final. By Wednesday afternoon, my load was much lighter. By Saturday afternoon, I was done!

I finished college!

Celebrating after our ballet finals!

Now, onto my French independent study

Une erreur

I need six hours of intermediate-advanced French so I can get my second major in English Literature, and I finished off the first three hours this past Wednesday when I completed our final exam. I am currently doing an independent study with another Butler French professor, and with that done I will graduate for real in August… which means I still get to walk in May Commencement. Oh, scheduling

Though my written final was on Wednesday, I took the oral portion on Monday with a partner. It’s not that bad. My French is very spotty, because I studied it for five years in middle/high school. That’s a pretty long time, but then I went another five years without speaking it. Again, that’s a pretty long time.

The point is, I remember a lot, and most of the grammar points that we covered, I had learned in the distant past. However, since it was a matter of recall… and I am no languages genius… I still struggled with certain things. Such as the phrase “free time.”

As I was playacting a skit with my partner, something typical about interviewing the other person for an apartment, I tried to ask what my partner did in his spare time. “Qu’est-ce que vous aimez faire dans votre amser sbâr?”

A beat. A pause. A quizzical look. Why was what I’d said wrong? It was, somehow, I knew. My teacher prompted, “votre temps libres?”

Yes, that was the French phrase for “free time,” one I hadn’t used that often.

Oh. It dawned on me. Welsh. “Amser sbâr” was Welsh for “free time.” I was speaking the wrong language! I hadn’t studied Welsh for two years, hadn’t thought about it really for months. Yet that phrase “amser sbâr” had been used often in the beginning of the Welsh course I followed, so it was apparently the “free time” that popped into my head first.

And then things got even more surreal when my French teacher said to me, in French, “That’s Welsh, isn’t it?” And then she said, “Beth dych chi’n hoffi wneud yn eich amser sbar?”

That’s perfect Welsh for, “What do you like to do in your spare time?” which I what I’d been trying to ask in French.

Mind. Blown.

France and Wales playing rugby. Also, a great metaphor for my addled brain.

Senior Ballet Final

I mentioned before that the senior ladies and men each do something silly at their last ballet final. I was busy helping organize ours all last week, hence the silence on the blog front. All our hard work paid off — it was EPIC.

To review: The seniors usually play some sort of prank during their senior final. Senior men are in a men’s technique class with all the men; most of the senior ladies are in the Level 4 class with a certain percentage of non-seniors. Anyway, this means there are two different senior final performances/pranks/silly events.

Through the years: My freshman year, I think the graduating seniors dressed up as animals for their senior final. My sophomore year (the year of the Olympics), the senior class assigned each professor as country and had a “Team Cholewa” or “Team Reid.” Last year, the seniors convinced some of the basketball players to come in with tutus, and they did a few basketball-related things, dribbled the balls, drew a game plan on the chalkboard, etc…

Through the years again: After much deliberation, we decided to do a “through the years” skit, chronicling events from our four years in Butler’s Dance Department! By chance, the curtains happened to be up in Studio 310, since Butler Chamber Dance was performing in the Studio Theater later that night. We unfurled one of the curtains to make a backstage area; we met for three consecutive nights to brainstorm, write the script, and practice. We even made t-shirts with nicknames on them so we would all match!

The skit went over really well, I think. The faculty (plus a good number of other dance majors) came to watch. We were a little nervous that people would not be able to follow, or that it wouldn’t be funny, but as soon as one girl walked out, dressed like one of our old teachers, Tong Wang, everyone was on the same page.

The events we chronicled:

  • Our first placement class, taught by Tong Wang
  • Our first Nutcracker with the Butler Ballet — including the tour to Marion and the campus Norovirus plague
  • The fact that we lost 12 members from our freshman class — but gained one more from a transfer! (some of the former dance majors were kind enough to return to take part in this beginning of the skit!) (this was also Hunger Games – themed)
  • An “injury-runway,” notably including a reenactment of a girl hitting a door whilst in a wheely chair and another getting her jaw stuck open.
  • Our sophomore year Laban Movement Choir
  • Our summer discovery of a video of two of the faculty participating in a public service announcement — complete with a rap which I practiced for a very long time.
  • Our junior year Glee Flashmob in downtown Indianapolis
  • The Ice-pocalypse
  • Our senior year’s new teacher’s entrance. He kindly agreed to participate and really hammed it up to music from Grease.
  • Audition season
  • And a sappy speech at the end

It was great fun! If you ever have a chance to do a “looking back over the years” skit, it’s a lot of work but well worth the effort. I will miss everyone in my ballet class dearly!

We made senior T-shirts!

Of Geese and Men

There is so much I still want to tell you: about my French exam, about my last ballet final at Butler, about the departmental comprehensive test, about the last Flip the Script, even about basic things like Butler Ballet and a freshman dancer’s schedule and mahjong nights and how to make your own gelato.

Instead, I’m going to talk about geese.

I saw a goose by the pond as I trekked to my 8 am French final this morning. Not unusual. There’s often a duck or goose or two hanging out in front of the carillon bell tower. However, I happened to take a closer look and was rewarded with the sight of two small, surprisingly yellow chicks waddling around in the grass! I turned around and pointed them out to the girl who was walking behind me (whom I did not know but who, I am certain, appreciated the sight).

Right, okay, baby geese in the grass, cute but not quite enough for a story. Then. I was headed back to my apartment after the final when I saw the same adult goose by the pond. This time, however, he was right up on the edge of the sidewalk, and he’d brought his wife to sit in the grass directly against the concrete, and the two babies were nestled against her. Once again, adorable.

Except they might have chosen a less-frequented path for their powwow, since the male goose spent the whole time guarding his family, snapping and hissing at passers-by, many of who decided to cross the street entirely. The brave ones still stepped off the sidewalk. This goose meant business.

I tried to get a picture but I was too far away perhaps.

Once I saw a goose perched on top of ResCo. You don’t often see geese perching. They’re rather too heavy to sit in a tree, so I only ever see them in flight or on the ground/in the water. This one was lording over the quad like a great feathered gargoyle. Anyway. Enough about geese.