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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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Goodbye, Butler!

August — new students arriving on campus. I’m way overdue to stop blogging, haha. Time to bid a fond farewell to the school I’ve loved so much for the past four years. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts here, and I hope I’ve helped illuminate some of college life at Butler University. I’m miss it for sure. There’s only one thing to say beside thank you, and that is…

Go Dawgs!

Dance majors of 2012 -- photo by Anna Peters

Butler Best Memories: Senior Year

This brings us to senior year, and to the end of my time at Butler. Senior year wasn’t always easy, but I finally felt like I could put all the pieces together. I felt more aware of what I did not know and what I had learned; I started to look outwards, toward life outside of a structured school environment. Senior year was both incredibly busy and extremely reflective. In short, I became a sap. Good memories and great friends will do that to you.

Well, before senior year technically started, I stayed in Indy for nine weeks of Butler Summer Institute, researching Anglo-Celtic literature. This is probably the most ambitious/difficult thing I’ve attempted in academics — and while I didn’t wholly succeed, I learned so much from the process. I’m extremely grateful to my mentor, the English Department, and the BSI program for the opportunity. I reference my experience constantly in conversations. If you have the scholarly inspiration and the time, I would highly recommend applying to participate in BSI.

So began my last year at Butler with the first of many lasts — my final Block Party. I worked at the Butler Catholic Community table, greeting friends as they passed by, thinking about the year to come. (Also, whether it was going to rain or not. If I remember correctly, it did, and we had to seek shelter in the student union.)

Sigma Rho Delta (as well as many non-Sigma Rho dance majors) went to the Indianapolis Gala performance again in the fall. I had mixed opinions about the bill, and being able to discuss artistic choices (read: argue about them) with other dancers was lovely. It’s like the old stereotype of college you find in slightly dated books: people sitting in a tiny room, talking late into the night about philosophy and artistic ethics and what causes they plan to march for over the summer. Okay, it didn’t go quite like that, but when I’m seventy, I bet I’ll remember it through these sepia lens of nostalgia!

Then came the last Freshman Retreat with the BCC. Here the leadership team shows its true colors. I began to realize how important I found the BCC about halfway through my four years at Butler, and if the last three months are any indication, it will continue to grow in importance as I look back at my time in Indy. (Same with character classes, dance history, piano classes, and modern classes, actually — and I’m sure many others will appear as the years wear on).

Halloween came, and I finally got it together enough to make a real costume. So far, I’d considered my most successful costume to be the Boy Scout uniform borrowed from my dad my sophomore year. However, I didn’t actually make it, so it probably shouldn’t count as much as my bird costume this year. I think I had as much fun making it as I did wearing it. Ahoy, maties! (Also, I never would have finished it in time if my boyfriend had not helped — thank you!)

In the spring… the Super Bowl came to Indianapolis. It was madness, kind of like March madness, except colder.

And I continued the fine tradition of knitting during the Super Bowl and finally FINALLY finished my lace circle which is large and beautiful and the most finicky thing I’ve ever knit. Cue awkward picture — notice the eyes, blurred from weaving in the million ends of lace-weight wool.

All January to March, I flew and drove and scuttled every which way to auditions. It was exhausting, but having gone through it once makes it not nearly as intimidating. (Ish.) It was a beautiful spring day in Tulsa went I traveled to audition for Tulsa Ballet II, and the weather matched my mood and relief when I got a contract with their second company. Advice for auditioning: Be respectful but be confident. You are a human being and deserve to be treated with dignity. Treat your fellow dancers with the same respect and kindness you would like to receive.

Our last performance with Butler Ballet was bittersweet indeed — as particularly emotional friends were quick to make known. You can see the traces of tears in our smiles. My senior year of dancing was full of ups and downs: injuring my foot during Nutcracker rehearsals in October, rehearsing for Por Vos Muero which is much harder than it seems at first, learning Swanhilda in Coppélia... All these opportunities taught me more than I realized at the time. Even just in the first two weeks at Tulsa, I’ve thought about that last year of dancing at Butler and made little choices throughout my days based on what I learned. I’M SO SAPPY, I’m sorry. But it’s true.

Also, my experience with Coppélia was so much fun, I still find it a bit surreal. There were about four days of actual freaking out in the two months of rehearsals, but the rest… I was oddly calm. I think it’s because I was allowed to act outraged or mischievous or in love or uncertain. Also, I gained a heck of a lot more stamina.

Thus we skipped our way through the four years. I met beautiful people, danced in amazing pieces, learned the difference between major and minor scales. I realized I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was, which probably made me a bit wiser. I gained immeasurable confidence, and though I still lack some necessary restraint, I think I’ve learned the trick of being happy most situations. Like I said in the beginning of this sappy post, senior year was the year of putting together the pieces. Maybe that is the liberal arts are supposed to do.

I hope you gather from this that going to college as a dance major was absolutely worth it in my opinion. I think it was the right choice for me, and I’m so happy I ended up at Butler for the experience.

Butler Best Memories: Junior Year

Sorry for the hiatus — just finished my first week in Tulsa Ballet’s second company! (And I’m already grateful for the broad training I received both in Richmond and at Butler. All those character classes and modern classes make the challenges I’m meeting here fun rather than overwhelming.)

But junior year awaits:

I loved living in the Apartment Village. As much as I learned living with roommates for my first two years at Butler, having my own bedroom in AV instantly made me much happier. To have a private place to de-stress and soak up the quiet was a marvel. Also — the kitchen. Getting off the meal plan and making my own odd food creations was great. I highly recommend soup. It’s really hard to mess up soup.

The same cannot be said of risotto. This risotto I made with my friend over Fall Break was crunchy. This is because you cannot use brown rice instead of arborio. Also over Fall Break, I stayed and worked on my long paper for my Contemporary Irish Literature class, which I thought at the time would be my senior English essay. Thus began that long saga. : )

To further define junior year, I could not omit physics class. When I wasn’t writing my Irish Lit paper or working on choreography or dancing, I was doing physics homework. This is noteworthy not only because just yesterday I used my understanding of angular momentum (no joke — it helped my assemblé en tournant in the Raymonda variation I’m learning), but also because I fell in l.o.v.e. with my homework buddy who even now patiently explains science to me.

And then it was winter and my roommates decorated the apartment and we all generally reveled in the having of a living room again after two years in the dorms.

In the beginning of the new year, it was freezing. My homework buddy/now boyfriend and I bundled up to brave the Icepocalypse. And I wrote my proposal for Butler Summer Institute for hours when I got home after rehearsal for Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht each night. I remember these few months were busy and full of blessings — and bitterly cold.

Spring finally showed up shivering on the doorstep, and it brought another round of March Madness. Again, Butler’s basketball team made it to the championship game. Again, the campus went wild with spirit events and communal viewings.

In the end, I presented my first paper at Butler’s Undergraduate Research Conference, performed my first solo as Fairy Miettes-Qui-Tombant in The Sleeping Beauty, prepared for a summer of research with BSI, made it through my first ever teaching-assistantship, and even found time to make a couple loaves of bread.

Butler Best Memories: Sophomore Year

Sophomore year was tough. Tuesdays and Thursdays were full dancing days and began with music theory at 8 am! However, I had some of most memorable experiences during sophomore year. The photo journey through four years as a dance/English major continues:

I lived down the hall from the girls who would become my apartment-mates for the following two years… and to start the year off with a bang, we walked to the French Festival near campus (after going in the wrong direction for several summer streets and having to call for directions).

Sophomore year also marked the beginning of my more dedicated involvement with the Butler Catholic Community, an organization still near and dear to my heart. The priest on campus, Fr. Jeff was an integral part of my time at Butler. This picture is from the Freshman Retreat, where I helped play with play-dough and do the dishes, among other things.

Who could forget Y, Ball, Eiffel Tower? The Laban Movement Choir, part of the University’s Mahler Project, was in the autumn of my sophomore year, and I was immensely proud of the fact that I attained my goal of convincing (forcing) at least ten people to participate in the mass movement performance with all the dance majors. Here are some very good friends indeed demonstrating some of the poses from the piece.

I became a Butler Blogger my sophomore year and was full of grand ideas to make a video about Butler’s squirrels. So apart from the relentless dance schedule and my obsessive photographing of Butler’s dorms, food, and events, I hunted squirrels. Sometimes I filmed them. Occasionally I interviewed my friends about them — no joke! I still have the footage. (I also still have footage of my explanations of good study places — next to the little waterfall and in the laundry room, and that was as far as I got). Sometimes I stopped my bike and pulled out my phone to take a picture of a squirrel. I was crazy. Also…

I was obsessed with my bike, which I received as a birthday present early in the school year. I rode it everywhere. It was great.

And I dressed up as a boy scout for Halloween to go raid the school function’s candy and walk through a fraternity’s very creepy haunted house. Note the penknife. Then at midnight… I started NaNoWriMo.

Blogger Cathryn and I both participated in NaNoWriMo this year, which was the last time I tried to write a novel in November. Maybe I’ll revive the tradition this year?

Nutcracker came, as it always does, and I had to spray-dye my hair black to dance the Chinese soloist. For some reason, I was convinced my hair would fall out or turn brittle and break and I’d have an unwanted page-boy after the performance. (My hair is very thin and fine and breaks easily.) So I remember standing in the tiny ResCo shower stall, conditioning my hair for the third time, leaving in a smattering of the formula for bedtime, despite the fact that it was not leave-in conditioner. Whether due to the non-hair-breaking nature of the spray dye or due to my tender ministrations, I emerged from the performances with a full head of hair.

In the spring, I made icosahedrons with the rest of my Laban Movement Analysis class and tried to learn to play the castanets for Spanish Character. Sophomore year was full of discovery, shall we say.

Come March, basketball fever swept the campus as Butler’s basketball team played its way to the championship games… which were actually held in Indianapolis that year! We even got the morning/early afternoon excused to go to a pep rally downtown (though it was back to barre immediately afterwards). This was the first time I really paid any attention to sports, and participating in all the merriment with the rest of my friends was exciting! However, I remain a fair-weather fan, mustering the energy to watch the games only when everyone else around me is doing the same. (SHAME)

I still count Swan Lake as one of the hardest things I’ve done. Rehearsing for Little Swans, I had a serious case of the nerves (see post). A fire alarm went off in my building the night before opening night — glory. Still, I had a blast. And my tendonitis went away as soon as the performances were over.

So that was sophomore year, the year of bunked beds and falling out onto the floor each morning, of the giant Sigma Rho Delta binder for my pledge trainer duties, of knitting and GHS classes, of castanets and improv, of working all the time and learning more than I actually realized I was learning at the time.

Butler Best Memories: Freshman Year

Commence my last few posts for this blog before I officially graduate in August… and commence trips down memory lane. Freshman year was an emotional roller coaster as I gradually adjusted to college life.

Move-in was stifling. Students from the Greek houses (I think) and orientation guides helped my parents and I shuttle boxes and boxes from the car. The best part about move-in? The sense of camaraderie. The worst? The heat and lack of AC in the freshman girls’ dorm.

I bonded first with the girls in my dorm unit, some of whom I saw periodically over the next three years, some of whom I didn’t. Regardless, we were all fabulous dancers, as you can see from our impromptu hallway dance party.

And I voted in my first election ever, having turned eighteen just in time. Don’t forget to fill out your absentee ballot request!!

Freshman year, there was basically a lot of merriment. For instance, we dressed up as spies for our unit picture.

We even got a snow day when Mother Nature decided to dump a good three feet of snow onto the campus. This snow day was much more pleasant than the snow days when I was a junior: I worked at least seven hours a day on my BSI application when I was a junior. Also, that was an ice storm, and people broke bones. The freshman snowfall was just snow — perfect for frolicking.

And finally, how could I forget my dance class? I don’t have any pictures of Nutcracker, Midwinter, or Cinderella to show (got to keep things profesh!), but we all went to the Flying Cupcake (these cupcakes are the Butler student gift of choice) after our spring ballet technique final. So much fun!

Freshman year, explore the city and the campus. Take full advantage of opportunities to do silly things (safely and legally, of course). Make friends in a variety of social circles. And don’t forget to study!

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.)

 

Foodie Indy Review

Foodie Indy: eat well. eat local.

There is an orange pack of what looks like playing cards titled “Foodie Indy.” Twenty dollars each, the packs contain 52 gift certificates of $10 to 52 different Indianapolis-area, locally-owned restaurants. There’s a minimum purchase required for each certificate (usually $30, which cannot include alcoholic drinks, taxes, or some specials/other certificates).

If you are going out with a group, this is perfect. Even if you want a romantic dinner for two, this lets you splurge a little AND try a new, locally-owned restaurant. So far, I’ve gone to Monon Food Company and Asian Grill. Both were tasty. At the Asian Grill, I tried crab cakes and a curry dish; I had some rather tasty tea. At the MoFoCo (as they like to call themselves), I tried Hawaiian tacos, tomato parm soup, and mushroom pizza. And carrot cake. And really good coffee. (I was sharing all this food, mind you.)

The downside to the Foodie Indy cards? Many of the restaurants are in Noblesville, which is decidedly north of Indianapolis and requires a longer car drive.

It really should be called “Foodie Indy/Noblesville.”

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

The calm before the soup battle

On the second to last day before the last semester of my undergraduate career… I made bread. Lots of bread. Seven loaves of bread.

Soda bread

Okay, okay. One of the loaves was from the day before, when my boyfriend and I decided to make Irish Soda Bread. Then we discovered Irish soda bread uses baking soda, not yeast — hence the name. What to do with the yeast we carefully procured from our local Kroger?

The answer to that question is obviously “ciabatta bread.” We made a sourdough starter, biga, and let it rise for twelve hours overnight. Then we mixed in more flour, let it rise some more (I did laundry in the interval), formed numerous small loaves (two with cheese inside), let it rise yet longer, and baked them.

Good crust, check. Fully baked, checked. Reasonably uniform for a free-form loaf, check. Fluffy inside, check.

Fluffy inside!! On the rare occasions I make bread (see past blog posts), it’s usually rather dense. The soda bread would be exhibit A. Despite tasting like a buttermilk biscuit (since the only liquid came from buttermilk), it had the same super dense texture I’ve come to expect.

Exhibit B would be the German beer bread with caraway seeds I made over winter break. Dense. Also, I had to hold this huge meat thermometer to check the yeast’s water temperature. It was too hot so I placed it on the windowsill so the winter wind could do its work. This process looked ridiculous.

I am so cool.

End flashback. This ciabatta bread — the one with the starter — is actually somewhat light and fluffy compared to the usual homemade bread texture. Success!

Biga starter

Also, I had a Soup Battle with my boyfriend today, wherein we both made soups from celery, onion, and carrots. The kitchen was a bit crowded, but both soups — which turned out surprisingly different — was delicious… especially with the bread we pulled straight from the oven.

A successful conclusion to the Grand Soup Battle

Games: Salad Bowl

Once again, biggest thanks to my godfamily for teaching my family this awesome party game! I wanted to post this on my blog because it’s perfect for a college student since all you need is some paper, writing utensils, and a bowl/other container.

How to Play Salad Bowl

Arrange yourselves in a circle. Every person has three small slips of paper. Pick a letter of the alphabet. Each person write a word, phrase, or short sentence on the piece of paper that begins with that letter. For example, when I played the letter was B and some selections were “Blarney stone,” “Blackbird sing in the dead of night,” and “Blimps blow up.” Place all pieces of paper in the bowl.

The person across the circle will be your partner. This game works best with an even number of people, but in event of an odd number, someone can double up and have two partners.

There are three rounds in this game.

Round 1. This is sort of like the game Taboo. You have one minute to get your partner to say exactly what is on the card you draw from the bowl. You may not use any of the words actually on the paper (articles like “the” are excluded from this rule). If I were trying to describe “Blarney stone,” I might say, “It’s a rock in Ireland which people kiss for luck and the gift of eloquence.” Once your partner has guessed correctly, keep the slip of paper and draw another. Continue until your time runs out.

Continue passing the bowl around the circle in one minute increments until there are no more pieces of paper left. Total how many slips each partnership has. Replace all pieces of paper into the salad bowl.

Round 2. You have one minute to act out the slips of paper you draw. Whereas last round you used only words, now you must use only actions like charades. The more abstract phrases will be harder to work out this round, but all players should begin to remember the phrases from playing the last round. Begin the salad bowl from where it last ended in Round 1. Continue in 1 minute increments until all pieces are drawn. Total up partners’ slips. Replace papers.

Round 3. You have just 30 seconds to guess with each partner. Instead of describing in words (Round 1) or charades (Round 2), you may speak only one word. For “Blarney stone,” one might say “kiss” or “rock.” Once chosen, the word may not be rescinded. Continue around the circle until all papers are drawn. Total up papers earned.

Whichever team has the highest number of cumulative points wins the game!

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