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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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Posts Tagged “classes”

If only I’d known

This is one of those horribly sappy “letters to myself” posts. Please excuse me, but I really want to tell myself:

Freshman year

  • Yes, you can sleep through that noise in your room, in the adjacent room, in the hall.
  • No, you cannot be so uptight. Be kind and sincere and considerate.
  • Be a better roommate.
  • No, you don’t need to bring your entire tea set to college. Or so many shoes.
  • No, you don’t need to ask so many questions after every jazz class. You’re a dancer. Use your body to figure it out.
  • You shouldn’t try to jump a pas de bourrée. You’ll only end up breaking your toe.
  • Please, please don’t wear those shoes with that skirt. You look like a clown.

Sophomore year

  • Yes, you can sleep through that noise.
  • Yes, you will eventually figure out how to roll the castanets.
  • Yes, you really can do homework/talk/sleep/ponder theories of the world while every other sophomore dance major is also trying to roll the castanets.
  • No, your hair will not fall out when you have to spray it black for Nutcracker performances.
  • That’s not how you rond de jambe en l’air.
  • Yes, your bottom leg will still be functional after Swan Lake, Act II. Yes, that’s tendonitis.
  • Yes, you will finish a double major. Stop stressing.
  • However, you should check with the head of department about requirement confusion.
  • Yes, your stick figure cartoons are amusing in your Music Theory, Choreography, and Global and Historical Studies classes. Now pay attention!
  • Please, please use your knitting savvy and make a tutu base that actually fits your torso instead of bunching up all the fabric on a too-big pattern.
  • On that subject, don’t use pastel, variegated, mohair yarn for your very first lace project.

Junior year

  • No, you really can’t juggle.
  • No, you won’t die if the apartment is slightly messy.
  • No, you shouldn’t use fifteen people in your very first choreographed piece.
  • Yes, that girl really is going to ride on the wrong side of the road. Wait just one minute and the two of you won’t collide.
  • No, fifteen minutes is not three-quarters of an hour. Yes, that boy in your physics class really does like you.
  • Your Irish Lit paper is too convoluted.
  • Yes, you really will get through Choreography II. No, you shouldn’t try to make a piece that’s entirely petit allegro.
  • You don’t actually have to learn the proof of standard deviation.
  • Please, please don’t be so ambitious about your BSI project. You can’t prove that thesis, no matter how hard you try.

Senior year

  • Don’t fouetté like that! You are going to sprain your toe, then inflame your tendon, then miss your chance to dance the Sugarplum Fairy. Just back away slowly…
  • No, it’s not the end of the world when that does happen.
  • Yes, you should ask for help with the Por Vos Muero music before rehearsal starts in January.
  • Your French teacher speaks Welsh. Ask her about it before the final exam.
  • Talk to your family more often.
  • Everything will work itself out in the end.
  • That leotard is on inside out.

Turning points in my life always turn me sappily reflective. It happened with high school, too. What interesting things have you learned throughout the course of high school/college/your young adult years that you wish you’d known beforehand?

** Oh, and one more: Don’t put potato peels down the kitchen sink. It will clog. **

Professionalism

As of last week, I am a grown-up dancer, earning my living in the most improbable of ways… the arts. After this week, I will also be able to add “teacher” to my life experiences list, since Monday was my first day helping with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir day camp. This makes me profesh, correct?

As ones enters college, it behooves him/her to think about beginning to practice the professional attitudes that will demonstrate maturity and help get the job done. Though you will be student in college, there is no reason you cannot act like a professional. If there’s one thing I learned during this most recent year’s audition season, it’s that you command more respect if you act in a professional manner which indicates you feel you deserve said respect. Basically, act mature, and people will treat you as such.

The Butler Department of Dance has a Professional Practices class you must take as a new student. I know there is a pharmacy equivalent, and the Intro to the Discipline class acts as a sort of professionalism class for the English Lit and Creative Writing Majors. And of course, it’s only way after the fact that I appreciate the class…

  • Maturity means stifling small complaints. If you see error, point it out respectfully and only to effect some sort of necessary change, then stop. Don’t complain for the sake of complaining.
  • Maturity means remaining calmer, more focused, and more eager to learn than you actually want to be or than those around you are. Maturity means getting it right quickly and consistently. Maturity means occasionally taking on extra tasks with a smile.
  • Maturity means showing respect for the job at hand, whether it seems too daunting or too little. No work of art lacks worth, and the more of yourself as an artist you can pour into a project, the more fulfilling it will be, both for you and for those around you.

This summer, I’m plunging headfirst into the real world, and old, tired sayings are gaining reality and importance the more I shed that snakeskin of student. More than ever, I wish I had internalized the gravity of a positive attitude sooner.

College will be challenging, with its incredibly multi-faceted demands on time and energy. However, a positive attitude manifested in mature professionalism really does make a difference, providing the biggest returns on the effort you give to your college (or professional) activities.

So life, bring on the next challenge!

Ugh, sorry to sound so preachy. But with all the earnestness I can muster, this really is true.

Dance Department Basics: Butler Ballet

Butler Ballet is the name of the Department of Dance’s “performance component” (as it says on the official website), the title of company putting on productions in Clowes Memorial Hall and soon the Howard L. Schrott Center. For instance, I danced in the Butler Ballet’s performance of Coppélia this past spring. It is also the name of a class the dance majors take most or all of their semesters at Butler University: I have “Butler Ballet” as a class on my transcript each semester.

As a class, Butler Ballet has a class code, credit hours, and ultimately a grade. Currently, it meets:

  • Monday 4:40 – 5:30
  • Tuesday 3:40 – 6
  • Thursday 3:40 – 6
  • Saturday 8 – 5

This is not to say that we are in Lilly Hall from 8 am to 5 pm every Saturday… only sometimes! Butler Ballet, though scheduled as a class, is more of a potential class — you may be called at any (or all) of these times throughout the semester.

If I had to generalize, I would say I had several hours on Saturday, full Tuesday and Thursdays with maybe an hour or half hour gap in the rehearsals, and Monday rehearsals some of the time. However, it really just depends on the role. Dancing Swanhilda in Coppélia, I not only had full Butler Ballet times, but also extra rehearsals on Wednesday afternoons. When Kevin Irving visited Butler to set Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero, we danced from 3:30 – 6 on Monday, 2:10 – 6 Tuesday/Thursday, and 3:30 -5:30 on Wednesday, plus Saturdays. However, rehearsal periods in normal circumstances are limited to the periods set forth by the Butler Ballet class schedules.

And that’s how Butler Ballet rehearsal periods work.

My homemade tutu lasted for about two years — and now is completely dead, falling apart and saggy, the tulle torn. Oh well.

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!

 

Why I’m not blogging much/a note on knitting

How, how, how am I already behind after having a full day to catch up? Next week I have all my normal homework due, plus I have to:

  • teach the center of a ballet class in my Teaching Analysis class (requires a lot of prep)
  • workshop the introduction to my BSI paper (which I am completely rewriting — sob! — which means this introduction is currently experiencing existence problems)
  • do a group project in French class (group projects take longer than solo projects, since you have to arrange meeting times, etc)
  • do a research project for my Theory and Philosophy of Dance class. The topic remains completely unspecified, which means this won’t be stressful, but I still have to do it.

Also, I’m going to Kansas City this Saturday to audition for Kansas City Ballet. (Just learned they’re doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream next season! Ah! I love.)

A side note:

I might just have finished this during the Super Bowl:

Better photo to come...

And perhaps will start this (I usually only knitting while traveling, since I can’t concentrate on most homework in airports):

Make Up Your Mind Racerback Tank from Julie Crawford

Kind of like a snow day…

The week after the week after. The following items are related.

1. Midwinter production/performance week, check. Evaluation week (i.e. the week I apply to many jobs), check. Coppélia-rehearsals-begin week: in progress.

2. I didn’t intend to be writing many blogs this week after seeing our rehearsal schedule combined with the terrifying prospect of whipping my BSI paper into shape.

3. This winter has been extremely temperate. Last year, we had two snow days thanks to the ice storm which coated the campus and its environs. The “Icepocalypse,” we called it. This year, there are no snow days for us, which suits me just fine. I like warmer weather.

4. The reason I am writing now and not frantically finishing English homework?

All dance classes have been unexpected cancelled. Snow is not the reason. Instead, we must blame the Lilly Hall sewage system backup which flooded a basement mechanical room last night and resulted in all the water being shut off/bathrooms being closed.

Facebook has been rather amusing, with all the sewage jokes. You fill in the blanks — I’ve included one of the tamer examples below.

Still, I’m a bit conflicted. I enjoy being lazy, I promise! But I’m disappointed/waiting for the backlash of the missed day: I had over three hours of rehearsal scheduled, and learning new material is always exciting. Plus, I’m sure we’ll have to make up for lost time over the next few days.

One thing is for sure. This is probably the oddest reason classes have been cancelled.

This was the last first day

This was the last first day of my undergraduate education. Except, as people have been quick to point out, there will be a last first day in January, a last first day in February, a last first Wednesday of the fourth month of study, etc.

Basically, I’m getting sentimental, but only a touch.

I had Teaching Analysis of the Classical Technique 2, ballet, rehearsal, and my senior essay class today. Besides catching up with friends after the winter break, the day was a whirlwind of learning choreography. Kevin Irving is currently at Butler University to set Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero for the Butler Ballet’s Midwinter Dance Festival, so the first day back in the dance department was full speed ahead as usual.

The Tulsa Ballet in Por Vos Muero

Then I had my Senior Essay class (soon to be renamed as “Advanced Academic Writing” which really sounds much more impressive) and dredged up the past with my BSI paper.

I should tell you more, but I’m ready to drop. Time to get ready for the last second day!

Senior English Essay

Thinking about becoming an English major at Butler? You’ll need a senior essay to graduate, whether you are a English Literature, English Creative Writing, or even an English-concentration education major.

What is the senior essay? It’s a long paper on a topic of your choice. These are usually written in a 400-level seminar class and honed in the “Senior Essay” class, which will soon be known by the much cooler name of “Advanced Academic Writing.” I will take this course, along with a class taught by the head of the department and her colleague on Midrash. I am so excited for the Midrash class, and I’m sure I’ll plague you with details once that gets underway.

Back to the Senior Essay. Having taken quite a few upper-level English courses by this late stage in my college game, I had a variety of papers to chose to polish into senior essay readiness.

I went with BSI. Since I put so much effort into the project this summer, I’d like to finish it. Novel idea, huh? Wales and Ireland, I shall presently make my great return!

 

Sophomore Dance Major

Of all my years, the sophomore dance schedule was the most challenging for me. Sophomore year is tough overall. I have the theory that it’s the weed-out year. If you are not happy taking so many dance classes, then a dancing career probably is not the right choice. I would want to learn that sort of thing about myself sooner rather than later.

When I was a sophomore I took:

  • Ballet Technique (2 semesters)
  • Modern Technique (2 semesters)
  • Jazz Technique (2 semesters)
  • Pointe (2 semesters)
  • Improvisation (2 semesters)
  • Spanish and Slavic Character (1 semester each)
  • Music Theory for Dance (2 semesters)
  • Choreography 1
  • Laban Movement Analysis
  • Piano
  • Voice class (2 semesters)
  • Butler Ballet (2 semesters)
  • Costuming class
  • GHS — Global and Historical Studies (2 semesters)
  • American Lit 1
  • Intro to Acting
  • Honors Class: A Brief History of Love and Friendship
  • British Lit 2

Basically, sophomore year was crazy. If you meet a sophomore dance major today, give him or her a hug. I’m told the School of Music is the same way. Sophomore year in the JCFA must be the equivalent of COPHS clusters. Maybe?

Laban class, unite!

 

The last scheduling conflicts

As a wanna-be double major, I’ve dealt with my fair share of scheduling conflicts. I really dislike scheduling my classes, since often the process ends in frustration. As the semesters pass by and I fulfill more and more dance requirements, the frustration diminishes… and though scheduling my last semster of classes as an undergraduate still held a few “gosh-darn-it!” moments, it was much, much easier than scheduling during my sophomore year.

With only one semester left, I don’t have that many required classes unfulfilled. I plan to take:

  • Ballet Technique
  • Pointe
  • Classical partnering
  • Butler Ballet
  • Theory and Philosophy of Dance
  • English class 1
  • English class 2
  • French

It looks like I will finish my Dance BFA degree (well, that was never really in question) and be just one class sort of obtaining my English Literature degree. The class in question? French.

When you major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, you must take six hours of a second language as part of your core requirements. JCFA majors do not have to do this. With a second major in LAS, however, I need six hours of French.

I visited France with my cousin. Does that count?

The sad part of this story? I’ve been confused about my requirements both for my dance degree and my English degree since the first semester. Part of this is my fault; part of it is not. Either way, it’s frustrating — especially since I thought by testing into a 300 level French class, I had fulfilled that LAS core requirement. Not so.

I somehow have three extra hours this spring (because I was confused about my dance degree plan, mostly), and I shall take a French class. And then what? Graduate just three hours short of my second major? Take French this summer and graduate a semester late? I’m not exactly sure how everything will work yet.

BUT THEN one of the English classes I planned to take was cancelled, and my dance schedule really doesn’t allow for many English class options… so I’m not sure still what my spring semester will look like.

Ah, scheduling…