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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 “college”

What to do during your summer

Whether you are a high school junior/senior thinking about college, a college student in-between semesters, or someone just out of school, summer offers precious time to study and to play. The Butler Admissions guest blog wrote about some great suggestions for spending your summer, and of course I have to add my two cents! ;)

I’ve done things a bit differently every summer since I graduated from high school. Let’s recap, shall we?

  • Summer after I graduated from high school: I was lucky enough to travel the world with both my grandparents and my nuclear family, then to dance for a good chunk of the rest of the summer at home.
  • After freshman year: I was a nanny three-four days a week and danced on my off days.
  • After sophomore: I attended a summer dance intensive.
  • After junior year: I participated in Butler Summer Institute doing English research… and danced.
  • After senior year: So far I’ve finished that last French class required to graduate, danced in the Southern Illinois Music Festival, and am currently teaching movement classes to children. Soon I will move to Tulsa, OK!

In the process of doing each of these different activities I’ve come to appreciate the importance of two things: work and play.

Those two about cover the gamut of options, n’est-ce pas? But really, working, whether it be as a nanny, researcher, dancer, or teacher truly drove home the lessons I learned in class. Even if I didn’t quite understand everything said in my Teaching Analysis of Classical Dance class last semester, I am now remembering little details, seeing them played out in front of me. Even if I didn’t always realize the lessons in professionalism and technique my dance classes at Butler imparted, I found myself drawing on them for reference while dancing in southern Illinois.

However, as a type-A all the way, I was surprised to realize the equal importance of playing. After my summer of BSI and English classes and the stress of trying to keep in ballet-shape while conducting a huge research project, I entered senior year a bit tired. No worries, right? However, by the second semester, I think I had burned out a little with my English studies. Dancing, no problem. (Which is good news, since that’s what I’ll be doing full time next year!) Writing another English paper? The thought kind of made me gag. Already with a few weeks break, I’m back on my reading diet of Dylan Thomas… but I want to hold off on that paper for a few more months at least.

So take a risk this summer, be it structured (a job, a class, an internship, a research project, a volunteer position) or not. But don’t forget to veg a bit! Butler (or any other institution, I imagine), will have you hopping for the full academic year, and it really is vital to take those lazy days to rest and read and bake cookies in your pajamas. Personally, I like cleaning my room with a book on tape. Whatever floats your boat.

Playing in the park!

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!

 

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!

Ruminations on Being a Senior

The last second day! Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the count-downs. I wasn’t this nostalgic in high school as a senior. I think I feel closer to some of my friends here in college because I actually live with them, whereas high school’s senior year had me living with my family, attending half-days at my high school with my school friends, and dancing the rest of the day downtown with the Richmond Ballet. Not that I love my high-school-era friends any less. The schedule just didn’t exactly facilitate a lot of hanging out.

I’m busy at college, but I can work in my socializing with things like making dinner, cleaning, doing laundry — because I live with all my friends, who of course perform the same chores in the same space. I have a feeling this might be the biggest adjustment I’ll face when I leave school. Plus a more rigorous schedule. Plus, you know, the job thing.

However, what I might miss, high school seniors can surely anticipate. College is fun. As my Grandpa says, it’s the best time of your life, and everything goes downhill afterwards. Now I hope that isn’t quite true, but college has been very good to me. Commencement is in May. Yikes. We’ll both count down to ends of our senior years — and let’s hope we can find some excitement in what comes next!

Requisite graduation photo

Home Sweet Home

I’ve finally home! After Nutcracker, then dance finals, then academic finals (aka writing papers till I drop), then a lovely weekend at Butler, then taking dance resumé photos in Cleveland (story for later), then a flight through Atlanta to Richmond (as per usual), and I finally made it home to my sisters and parents and rabbits and so on. And my comfy bed. Cannot forget about that, no no no.

More and more I envy those students who can drive home. Airlines don’t offer direct flights from Indianapolis to Richmond, so I’m always connecting through Atlanta, Cleveland, Charlotte, Chicago. Next thing you know, I’ll be going through a really out-of-the-way city like Santa Fe.

This is the first time in over a year I haven’t been in school. I entered junior year, with the personal decision to prep for my TA position over winter break by reading the first half of The Sound and the Fury. I came out of the class loving the book, but that first attempt at understanding William Faulkner’s take on “a tale told by an idiot” stands in my memory as one of the more frustrating things I’ve done.

Then spring semester of junior year. Then the first few weeks of summer, where I tried desperately to catch up on the BSI reading I knew I had to finish before starting BSI. Then BSI. Then early work for an English independent study. Then this fall began.

Where did all that time go? Into writing papers, suggests the list above, but also into dancing and learning what constitutes stereochemistry and cutting out paper snowflakes with my roommates and baking banana bread…

Good memories, good memories (BCC at Block Party)

The last year and a half were exceedingly busy, but I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences. Well, maybe a foot injury here or there, yet events have an uncanny way of sorting themselves out in the end.

It’s so so good to be home. Also, to write in sentence fragments because this won’t be graded.

Family Shout-Out

I have to backtrack a little to The Nutcracker. I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing about it… but I want to acknowledge all the family members who traveled (some so far!) to see and support me. I’m so grateful I was able to see you! Also, Grandma, those cake pops were delicious — especially the peppermint one. I cannot wait to see everyone next week during my winter break.

Cake pops!

A note about traveling: Looking at out-of-state schools? When I was in high school, making decisions about college, I knew I wanted to go to Butler. It has a serious, classical-ballet based dance program with a good English department in a liberal arts setting — and this is not a common combination. Just keep in mind, though, that travel will increase the cost of an out-of-state school, especially depending on how often you go home. Friends who live in California might spend a shorter break with family/friends closer to Indianapolis; I’ve traveled home to Virginia for Fall Break only once. Distance did not alter my admissions decision, but it is still an important factor to consider… especially since those acceptance letters should be arriving soon for Early Decision admissions!

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.

Tips for College Living: Schoolwork

Though Butler’s fall semester started only three weeks ago on August 25, we have already received a lovely vacation. Thank you, Labor Day. I labored a bit, appropriately, reading a book for my Financial Fictions English class called The Incorporation of American — so learning about laborers. The homework load still is not too bad early in the year.

What was true in high school becomes even more so in college: There are periods of madness and stretches of relative calm. The beginning of year is especially strangely peaceful to the dance major, because rehearsals have not begun for The Nutcracker. The underclassmen had their auditions today, and the cast list should be up soon enough. Then rehearsals begin in earnest. Add the month-in English paper deadline, and soon I’ll be busy.

Another high school-translates-to-college fact: Procrastination. It gets worse, not better, so try to stay on track your senior year! Because I have some down time, I blog more infrequently. When I get a bit busier, the blog posts will pick up (unless it’s production week, when we push aside even productive procrastination in favor of pancaking shoes and spacing ballets).

Unlike high school, a college schedule affords you the time to complete schoolwork during the day. No longer do you work for six straight hours, break, then do homework. Instead, you might have an hour or two free in the morning (unless you are a freshman or sophomore dance major — then you are busybusy). The common tale? Go to the campus Starbucks to work on that paper… and talk the entire time with friends.

This freedom is both refreshing and challenging. As a new college student, find what works for you, of course. I would recommend, however, you luxuriate in the calm moments, avoid procrastinating in the truly hectic moments, and at least try to get some schoolwork done before 9 pm.

The Last First Day

My parents always took the first-day-of-school picture. I did not like this very much; thus I’m pouting or forcing a smile in most of these photos. Now I’m at the end of the road — a senior in college. Graduate school, if it is indeed in my future, should not come for yeras. This is my last first day of school.

Looking at my schedule yesterday, I realized my last first day will actually be rather difficult for someone a bit out of shape. My classes:

  • Strength and Conditioning (my last general requirement to be fulfilled — a gym class)
  • Jazz class
  • Shakespeare (the class with the largest textbook I’ve ever purchased for college — the complete annotated works)
  • Ballet technique
  • Modern class
  • Pas de Deux (or partnering)

This last day seems like it will be too busy for much nostalgia. Good luck to all new students entering college, all high school seniors beginning their last year, and all college seniors faced with the prospect of Real Life. See you on the flip side!

2057 pages of Elizabethan goodness

 

Focus on Schwitzer

Schwitzer Hall is the all-female, freshmen residence hall on Butler’s campus. I lived there with a roommate my first year at Butler. Last post, I compared Schwitzer to ResCo (where I lived as a sophomore). A bit more about Schwitzer:

  • Three floors (plus a basement), four units on each floor. The first floor, for example, was 1 West, 1 North West, 1 East, and 1 North East.
  • Laundry room in the basement.
  • Only a service elevator.
  • Communal bathrooms, one for each unit.
  • Mostly doubles, but singles and triples are available.
  • Mostly new students, but I remember a unit of sophomores in the basement.
  • Main lobby with mailboxes, front desk, piano, chairs, and restrooms.
  • Extremely sociable… at least my unit was!

Here are some of the activities I remember from my freshmen days with my Schwitzer unit, 1W (or “one dubb,” as we liked to say).

A canal-side show.

Attending a Hispanic festival with my RA.

Riding the fairground rides that were randomly set up on Butler's campus (I forget why).

Movie night in my freshman dorm room.

Decorating for Halloween. Faculty members bring their kids through the residence halls for trick-or-treating!

Voting for the first time in the presidential election with my RA as a witness.

If you are about to move in to Schwitzer, you are indeed set to have a fun first semester.