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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 “dance finals”

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!

This is a super dramatic metaphor about marathons

The three weeks after Thanksgiving break seem like a marathon. Here is how this comparison would go: The first third, we’re feeling good, getting water at the water stops, waving at the people lining the street holding hand-made glitter signs and ringing obnoxious cowbells. This is The Nutcracker.

The second week has those blisters those start to burn, long stretches without any cheering fans, the cramp in my left calf, the knowledge that even though it hurts now, there are still 10.2 miles to go. This is the week of dance finals, memorizing classes and finishing self-assessment papers; this is the week before academic finals, when my life is in a disorganized pile after The Nutcracker but I still have a ton of papers to write.

I’m on mile 24 now. I pushed through the cramps and blisters and opened a few more. I drank my Gu (this is real, I promise). There are people lining the street, holding small children who have insisted on displaying those enthusiastic signs, though they have them crooked so the message becomes obscured. (It doesn’t matter, we know they contain words of encouragement and love.) That cramp is killing me, and I know there are still 2.2 miles left. But I’m so close, and all my friends are running beside me.

Some of us will cross the finish line sooner, some later. Some of us have huge hampers of laundry to wash when we’ve finished the run. (Me.) Some of us have been done for a few days and have come back to stand on the sidelines to cheer the runners onto the finish line.

This is super dramatic.

On Monday, I finished a thirteen-page research paper for my Financial Fictions class in effectively three/four days. (Sorry, Dr. Swenson.) After I turned it in at 6 pm on Monday, I finished my Teaching Analysis of Classical Ballet project. Then I studied for an hour, went to bed, studied for another hour in the morning, then took the final. (Sorry, Professor Bryam.) Then I started to write my Theory and Philosophy paper, which I turned in eight minutes before it was due at 5 pm. (Sorry, Professor Laurent.)

Now I’m writing my short Shakespeare paper and studying/preparing for that final on Thursday. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit how close to the wire I came with some of those assignments… But I’m ready to finish off my last fall semester of college!

Good luck to everyone studying for final exams and writing final papers, to everyone preparing applications to grad school, to all you high school seniors finalizing/prepping college applications! We are almost there!

I’ve never run a marathon, by the way. I’m sure it shows.

Yes, we participated in the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot volunteering crew this year as per family tradition!

More Dance Finals? Duh

I only discussed the format for the modern, jazz, and ballet technique dance finals last post. We have some sort of final in each class we take. This year, I also had pointe, classical partnering, and contemporary pas.

My pointe class meets twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursdays. (That doesn’t sound like a lot of pointe, I know, but you wear your shoes for rehearsals, partnering, variations, sometimes ballet technique…) During finals weeks, pointe class meets at its normal times. Since we have two teachers, we have two finals. We don’t memorize these finals like we do for ballet and modern — basically it is an ordinary class, except the professors take notes in a sinister, wide-ruled, spiral notebook.

~sinister music~

The classical partnering class meets on Wednesdays, and we had our final the week before the week of Nutcracker runthroughs, which was the week before Thanksgiving Break, which is the week before the show. In the dance department, November and December are dictated by the performance schedule.

Our pas final is usually half of a pas de deux we’ve been practicing for the last two or three class periods. I’ve done the first and second halves of Diana and Acteon, the first part of Don Q (up until 3 min in the video below), and the first half of The Sleeping Beauty wedding pas. We go in groups of two pairs, and we’re graded on our performances.

YouTube Preview Image

For contemporary partnering, we learned six short pas from Nacho Duato’s Na Floresta. The last two classes, the professor assigned each couple one pas at random and taped us performing the entire chunk, couple by couple. I love Duato’s choreography. It feels so organic; it’s detailed, yet free, restrained at the same time it gives itself in abandon. This sounds super cheesy, but it’s the best way I can describe it. I’m so excited we are performing his Por Vos Muero during this year’s Midwinter Dance Festival.

And those were some of my dance finals.

Dance Finals

Dance class finals consist of a juried exam, wherein the students learn a specific class from one of the teachers and dance it in front of a table of faculty members. The main challenges of the juried class? Memorization and endurance.

It’s actually not as hard as one might think, memorizing the various ballet exercises. The faculty does a pretty good job of helping each class prepare, and the class generally reviews together on its own. The trouble comes in all the little details: I’m in the first line of three for the first exercise, and I run in from and exit toward stage left, and this exercise has four counts in between groups, and we begin in B+… And so on.

Endurance becomes a factor because, having memorized the combinations, there is very little time between exercises. This is how the juried ballet, modern, and jazz classes are condensed from an hour and a half (or an hour for jazz) to forty-five minutes. The only juried final I remember where endurance really became an issue was freshman year’s spring semester. It was stifling in the room, and I’d forgotten my water bottle. Gazillion degrees + nonstop ballet - water = not the easiest of classes. I prevailed, however, and even survived sophomore and junior years to boot!

My second to last dance technique final is this Friday, and I have such clogged sinuses I can’t breath when we cambré back. This was a big issue toward the beginning of my modern final yesterday afternoon, when we do overcurves, undercurves, and turns in tilts… But as per usual, if we push through, a dance class ends up being fun. When I dance, I feel better — even physically, odd as that might sound.

I suppose I should channel some of this enthusiasm into English paper writing as well.

Lilly Hall, where the dance studios live

Story from the vault: During my sophomore year, spring final, I had a lot of momentum after a burst of chaîné turns. I started to clear the center, going in the direction I had been traveling. Of course, I was supposed to leave the other way. I realized this, ran the tightest arc of my life, banking into the turn furiously, and ran off in the correct direction. I could hear one professor laughing out loud, and I had to laugh with him. After that, any lingering nerves were gone, natch.

Under the mountain

I am writing from under a veritable mountain of homework (unlike Steph, who actually climbed a mountain!). Reasons for mountain formation:

1. The Nutcracker: Our last show was this past Sunday, and we took lots of senior pictures, and I did not get as emotional as I thought I would, but I cried after our modern final today because the modern teacher is going on sabbatical. I feel good about the performances I gave — I’m never quite satisfied, since there always seem to be areas to improve — but the faculty had some good things to say. I felt calmer and more in control on stage this run than ever before… and I had a lot of fun as well. But I’m horribly behind on homework now.

2. Finals week: I’m also under a mountain of work because academic finals are next week. I have two English classes and two dance academics… I’m most concerned about the big English paper I have due this coming Monday, where I’ll be talking about Edenic metaphors in Frank Norris’ The Pit. Key phrase: “I’ll be.” As in, “I have not yet.” As in, my paper is thus far just a bullet-pointed version of my project proposal.

Oh dear.

One of my doodles from freshman year... It still speaks to me.

Dance finals are this week, too, and I’ve finished half of my pointe final and my modern final. We did contemporary pas and classical partnering before The Nutcracker, so I just have one more pointe class and my ballet technique final to go! More about dance finals later, I suppose.