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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”

Midwinter Announcement!

Sunday night, the dance majors received a very exciting email from the director of the Department of Dance:

“I am very pleased to announce that this year’s Mid-Winter guest choreographer piece will be “Por vos Muero” by Nacho Duato.  Mr. Kevin Irving, assistant to Mr. Duato will be coming to cast the piece this semester and he will then return to set the work at the beginning of the spring semester.  This is very exciting for us all and continues the legacy of the masterworks that have been presented by the Butler Ballet over the past several years.”

Por Vos Muero:

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The past four years I have been at Butler, our Midwinter Dance Festivals have showcased pieces from the best choreographers.

  • 2012 Nacho Duato, “Por Vos Muero”
  • 2011 George Balanchine, “Walpurgisnacht”
  • 2010 Anthony Tudor, “Dark Elegies
  • 2009 George Balanchine, “Serenade”

I had the good fortune to participate in last year’s commissioned piece, and working with Deborah Wingert was absolutely amazing. (All dance students enrolled in Butler Ballet — i.e. almost all of them — are in the Midwinter show. The commissioned piece is not the only piece. Faculty members choreograph the rest of the program.) We don’t get to pick casting, obviously, and I’ll enjoy any piece I’m in, but I would love to learn Nacho Duato’s choreography, since we are learning the duets from Na Floresta in our Contemporary Partnering class and it is awesome. Video of Na Floresta:

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So much excitement!

What to Expect When You’re Auditioning

In this post, I’m going to walk you through the Department of Dance audition process. Dancers will take two ballet technique classes, both in flat shoes. Men will take one men’s ballet technique class, then join the females for a ballet technique class. Females will take two ballet technique classes, first with the Level 4 females (predominantly seniors), then with the Level 2 (predominantly sophomores).

The JCFA website claims your day runs from 8:45 am to 5 pm. Here’s what I remember from my audition day four years ago: (This might not be the correct order of events/wholly accurate/still the same four years later.)

  • Introduction to the dance department and the degrees offered
  • Tour of the fine arts facilities
  • Meet some of the faculty and staff
  • lunch
  • financial aid meeting for parents?? or something parenty?
  • 12:20-1:50: Class with the Level 4 women (auditioning females)/department men (auditioning males)
  • 1-2:30: Class with the Level 2 women (all auditioners)
  • time to poke around campus, campus tours, etc.

A bit about the audition classes themselves: These are the Level 4 and 2 normal technique classes with current students, so the auditioning students can see what the atmosphere is like on a day-to-day basis. The teacher conducting the class is the normal teacher for that particular class on that particular day (dance faculty rotate teaching schedules every few weeks, so your teachers vary throughout the semester depending which class you take).

The Level 4 class is predominantly seniors. This year (if I’m counting correctly) there are 14 senior women, 2 junior women, and 1 sophomore woman in the Level 4 class. Men take technique class together Monday, Wednesday, Friday and are combined with the ladies’ Levels 1-4 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On these days, we are joined by 4 senior men and 2 junior men, plus another junior lady who moves up to Level 4 Tuesday/Thursday. This is the general outline for who will be in your audition class.

The class will be in flat shoes, black leotard with pink tights inside the leo, no dangerous jewelry, etc. You will receive a number and be placed all in a line at the barre at one end of the room. The way we face at the barres, no auditioner will have to do the combination without seeing anyone for the right side, but if you are on the end, you will have to know the combination for the left. Other faculty members will drift in and out throughout the class. There are usually far more people observing the center than the barre work.

In the center, the teacher usually places the auditioning students on one side of the room with the other side used by the regular class. This is so the faculty do not have to search throughout the room to find you; you want to been easily seen so you can show off your nice technique. Lines usually rotate I think, so those in front and back switch off. Sometimes the class faces the mirror, sometimes the back wall. Just listen to the instructions in the class, and you will be fine. Butler students taking the class will help as well! I remember someone nudging me forward when I was auditioning.

After the first class is a ten minute break. Level 4 leaves for their next classes, and Level 2 ladies enter. You can get water, use the restroom, eat a banana, whatever during this break. Then you do it all over again! After the class is over, hand in your numbers and safety pins and pat yourself on the back!

Butler Ballet, Midwinter Dance Festival 2011.

Q&A: Dance Department

Last week I got a series of great questions from a high school senior looking into Butler’s dance major. I thought I would answer them here on the blog so other prospective students can see and comment!

Q: Is Butler’s dance program based in classical ballet? Most programs seem to be modern emphasis.

A: Yes, the dance department is grounded in classical ballet. I was struck by the scarcity of options for a serious classical ballet, liberal arts program when I was looking for schools four years ago. I take a ballet technique class five days a week, plus pointe, classical variations, and classical partnering.

Snow Corps, The Nutcracker, 2010, choreography by Cynthia Pratt

Q: What other techniques are you learning at Butler?

A: The semester counts here are out of seven, since I am taking my seventh of eight semesters. I have studied jazz (4 semesters), modern (7), contemporary partnering (1), Slavic character (1), Spanish character (1), and improvisation (1).

In less technical-movement-based classes, I’ve studied: Laban Movement Analysis, Teaching Analysis of Classical Ballet (of Jazz and of Modern are also offered), Body Placement (a sort of Pilates-nutrition-anatomy mishmash), and Choreography.

On the purely academic front, the Dance Department offers/requires: Masterworks of Dance, a history of music class, Music Theory for Dance, Design and Construction of Dance Costumes, Dance History, and Theory and Philosophy of Dance. Other related requirements include an acting class, piano, and voice.

Midwinter Dance Festival 2010, 1st of 3 in 17, choreography by Cynthia Pratt

Q: Anything you think would be helpful…

A: This senior mentioned double majoring, which I am doing with great difficulty. If you want to double major, my advice is to be realistic and to become intimate with the requirements of both departments and with the colleges of each department. The trouble I’ve run into personally is the language requirement demanded by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (for my English Literature major) — though it’s not required by the Jordan College of Fine Arts (the college of my primary major in Dance Performance). Look carefully at all your requirements and do the credit-hour math beforehand. You might, as this senior wisely mentioned, have to stay an extra summer or semester to finish.

Q: I live in Georgia, so scheduling a visit is tough. Can you give me some pointers?

A: Here are some questions you might want to consider before flying/driving to Indianapolis if you are from out of state or looking at the dance major:

– Do you want a liberal arts environment (versus a conservatory)?
– Do you want a program based in classical ballet?
– Are you open to learning all sorts of other techniques?
– Does Butler offer the classes you want, both in and outside the dance major? (Which you can check here…)
– Could you live in Indianapolis? Could you fly/drive a substantial distance for the holidays?

As I told this senior, if you have any other questions you want answered about Butler University, don’t hesitate to ask! If I don’t know the answer, I can find someone who does and get that information to you as you begin your college decision process. You might also like to peruse the departmental requirements or the Jordan College of Fine Arts Facebook page.

Core Requirements: Physical Education

Even though I’m a dance major, somehow I still have to take a gym class. Since I enjoy being active, this is not too painful of a requirement, though I still have to giggle to myself when the class learns how to stretch one’s gastrocnemius. It took me a while to fit the one credit hour class into my schedule (in terms of credit limits and then in terms of class times). This semester, I found a strength and conditioning class Monday and Wednesday mornings!

I actually like my class a lot. Because we are working with weights and cardio machines in the HRC (Health and Recreation Complex, Butler’s beautiful gym/health facilities), we can personalize much of the class (a blessing when a bunch of ballet classes follow). My biggest goal for the semester is to improve my upper body strength, and I’ve already noticed a difference! Whether you are taking a physical ed class or not, as a Butler student you have access to the HRC, since tuition includes HRC membership.

Take advantage of this. The HRC is beautiful, reasonably clean, and has a wide variety of programs including intramural sports, fitness classes like cycling or yoga, and personal trainers. There are massages available (for a fee), a pool with lazy river, hot tub, sauna, indoor track, free weights, student employment as a lifeguard etc… Best of all, it’s extremely close to the Apartment Village, where I’m living.

Also, I saw Blue II with his Bluemobile outside the HRC last week! He kindly posed for a photo.

One Week (and a half) In: English Department

Friday morning, it is, and about a week and a half of classes gone past. Last post, I gave you the news from the dance department — now we shall examine the world of my English literature classes.

  • I’m only taking two English classes this semester, one of which meets only once a week, so this list might not be too long.
  • Shakespeare — EN 363 — meets three days a week. My one complaint? The textbook is HUGE. I’m a dancer/English major. I’m not used to lugging around the real textbooks like the science majors. Even my physics textbook was not this large, and I did not have to bring it every day.
  • We are doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Shakespeare class. I can still quote large tracts of this play, thanks to a brief but obsessive period in high school. I have seen or danced in three different productions of the ballet, as well as trying to choreograph my own version with my friend in middle school. (Laughable — we spent four hours in my basement and produced two minutes of movement.) I have the suspicion that the class will become much more difficult when we switch to plays not so familiar. YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image
  • The other class is Financial Fictions in the Gilded Age. We read books about financiers in the post-Civil War period. I’m intrigued because the last American literature class I took from the professor turned out to be great fun. We usually get to read some shoddily written books from circa 1850.
  • I’m also doing an independent study on British stream-of-consciousness novels. (Sorry, Dr. Garver. I’m working on my paper as soon as I finish this blog post, I promise!) I’m trying to claim that, while being the underdog in a colonizer/colonized relationship stinks no matter how you parse it, being recognized as such by the colonizer grants the colonized some measure of power. I use the examples of East African colonies (recognized as colonies by the British Empire) and Wales (not recognized as acting the part of the colonized and denied a voice granted to East African subjects).

And that’s the news from the English department, one week into the semester. Shakespeare is about to get harder, Financial Fictions is going to get funnier, and my independent study paper will be written. Let’s work on this paper.

Butler’s Wildlife

There is an drainage pond on Butler’s campus, by the tennis bubble. I discovered it only this summer, since I never went to that end of Butler’s property until I lived at University Terrace. It’s made to collect rainwater so the drainage systems aren’t overwhelmed, and it provides a habitat for some local flora and fauna.

All this I learned from reading the rather handy sign. I must brag a little, however, and say I noticed the drainage area when I saw the incredible diversity of species clustered together. In my first honors class (the good one, not the horrible one), we talked about biodiversity in plant species when we read Biomimicry. Ever since, I’ve been especially attuned to places where the natural variation of plant and animal life is allowed to flourish.

Some classes are awesome like that.

I’ve been indulging my ecological side in following Butler’s own Center for Urban Ecology blog. Check it out!

Summer classes at Butler

The Butler campus is certainly busier during the Summer II session than during Summer I. I’m not sure why, but it looks like more happens. Summer I felt like life in a ghost town. The weather was nicer though, since it’s becoming hotter day by day — though still nothing like the humid Richmond weather!

The sky over the Butler Bowl during a beautiful summer day.

Summer I and Summer II are the names of Butler’s summer sessions. I’m here for part of Summer I and part of Summer II, since BSI runs on its own schedule. However, each summer session is six weeks long and offers different classes.

Fun fact: Classes during the summer don’t necessarily run for the full six weeks. I did not realize this at first. Classes that run only three of the six weeks might meet for several hours four or five days a week, while those that run the full summer session could meet only twice or three times a week. Does that sound like an easy schedule? Imagine doing a semester’s worth of reading and papers in four weeks. Yikes!

Summer classes are a great way to fulfill extra requirements if you have a busy schedule or are switching majors. Just look at the price tag first, because with housing and tuition, summer classes can add up!

Assessment Week #3

Every year, dance department students complete a self evaluation in the fall semester. This provides us with a chance to reflect on our progress, to put into words what we are trying to do with our movement, to identify areas we would like to improve. It is more important, perhaps, in that we are supposed to write how we are trying to improve specific things.

Topics we are asked to write on (in a few sentences for each section) include: technique, musicality, strength, flexibility, professionalism, and long-/short-term goals. (There are more… it’s fairly comprehensive.) I would not say that anyone particularly enjoys writing her self-assessment, but as a tool to focus our training, it is superb. I like to write mine early in the year: That way it is more of a plan of attack than a reflection on what areas I have concentrated my efforts. We turn our self-assessments in during our ballet technique final exam in the fall.

The faculty members, bless their hearts, read every single self-assessment. I think there are over one hundred students in the dance department this year. That’s a heck of a lot of assessing. This week, every student gets a fifteen minute appointment to meet with all the faculty at once. Faculty members provide feedback on our self-assessments, our classwork, and our performances. Even though the experience is slightly terrifying — have you ever been the focus of an entire department’s faculty all at once? — it’s good to get feedback.

I thought this year’s meeting was the most helpful one I’ve received: They talked about my classwork, performance, and what I wrote on my assessment, but they also introduced  a topic in a way I had not thought of before.

The other plus side of assessment week? The first four days see almost all our dance classes canceled. (Since the faculty meets with students all day, every day. It’s a grueling schedule.) I have much more free time than usual this week.

Of course, I just came from production/performance week for Midwinter Dance Festival, which means I have not done any meaningful amount of homework or housework or general life-organizing in a while. This week is shaping up to be busier than I thought it would be. (Though I should have know better.)

On the plus side again, I’m almost done with Moby Dick!

The White Whale...

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.

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.