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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 “high school seniors”

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

New Year, New School

Happy New Year’s Eve! For high school seniors, this is especially poignant, since the year will mark your graduation and subsequent first months in college.

I ran into a high school senior at the Jewish Community Center yesterday, where we were both taking a ballet class. She asked me about Butler, and we spent the better part of an hour talking about colleges. As a college senior, I was surprised by how I could look back over four years and see the large sweep of events — how this aspect of the liberal arts was wonderful (physics class), how this part was really obnoxious (mixed-up degree plans). Thinking about colleges inspired me to create this list.

List of 6 Qualities You Should Consider When Deciding Where to Go For College and How Butler Relates to the Aforementioned Attributes:

1. Degree Plan

We attend college in the hopes of learning more about our areas of interest in the hopes of getting a job in the hopes of attaining some personal goal, whether it be personal fulfillment or world-changing innovation. So make sure the college you pick will let you take the classes you want.

Also, make sure the college is up to your caliber. You want to major in pharmacy or dance? Butler provides a challenging environment for both areas of study. I considered attending another college when I was a senior, but the brochure for their English Department contained typos and I was not overly impressed by the professionalism or talent of the dance department. Butler was different — it offered a solid English program in a liberal arts setting where I could concentrate on a high level of classical ballet.

2. The Food

Do you have dietary restrictions? Are you vegetarian? The first two years of study at Butler mandate your participation in a meal plan, and Butler isn’t the easiest place to be vegetarian. There are always options — but having visited my sister’s college, I must say that Butler really could not be considered a leader in environmental issues. This means vegetarians at Butler will be able to find something to eat, but they’ll have to work a lot harder than if they went to a place like Dickinson.

However, Butler is revamping its main dining hall in Atherton Union over this winter break. I also haven’t been on a meal plan for two years, so things might have changed. I know several people who are vegetarian, and they did just fine. Now, if you are vegan… not sure. I know the university has concentrated on this aspect of campus life, and they are trying to improve. Talk to the dining services if you have concerns.

3. Cost

These aren’t always the most fun aspects of a college to consider. Who wants to calculate how far into debt one will have slipped by the end of four-ish years? Cost should not be prohibitive, especially in terms of applying for college. After that acceptance letter, you can always discuss financial options with the Office of Admission and Financial Aid. Money sometimes equates reality, however, and a college decision might come down to cost. Sad but true.

4. Location

Always dreamed of living in the Midwest, where the corn fields stretch across a very flat plain and one may spot windmills? (Windmills! I say. We don’t have those on the East Coast!) College offers the chance to see a new place, to live with snow or alligators or windmills. (Note: I’m exaggerating here. I don’t know of any windmills directly in the Indianapolis area, but the drive to Chicago has certainly/clearly left a great impression on me.)

A word on location: You should factor the cost of travel when looking at quality number three…

5. Teaching Style

This becomes extremely important for a dance major, though I’m not sure how much it applies to other disciplines. I’m sure there are connections, but I’m too lazy at the moment to seek them out.

Do you want to focus on classical ballet? Balanchine? Modern? A balance of the above? Butler’s first focus rests squarely on classical ballet, but the curriculum is wide enough with jazz, contemporary pas, theater dance, modern (no straight style, but taught by a former member of both Paul Taylor and Martha Graham’s company) (this professor is truly one of the gems of the dance department, corny as that may sound), and so on to create a versatile dancer.

6. Breadth of Study

Perhaps this is just my liberal arts background talking, but I think one of the pillars of higher learning is breadth of study. Concentration on a major all but guarantees depth, but the liberal arts mindset — a real liberal arts which both requires and inspires students to do more than brush past outside fields of study — provides context for the primary interest.

For example. The liberal arts requirements mandated I take a science course. A trick of the university scheduling offered PH 201 as a course which would fulfill that requirement. The opportunity to take a higher level science course and the requirement that I take at least five hours of science let me explore something completely different. If the class had not been mandated, I would never have taken it. If the classes that fulfilled the science requirement were not rigorous, I would never have gotten so much value out of those five credit hours. I acquired a deeper appreciation for the elegance and complexity of the world and rekindled my high school love of math as well as my long-time love of science.

Taking classes in physics might not be appealing if your only interest seems to be ballet. You might want only to dance, not to sit in a classroom memorizing names from dance history or singing solfege in a piano studio. The same applies to other areas of study at Butler. But Butler’s great strength does lie, I believe, in the liberal arts, and in the range of study it affords its students. Go for the liberal arts institutions. You’ll come out of four years knowing things you never expected to learn.

Who wants to receive exactly what one bargained for?

Tips for Looking for Dance Colleges

High school seniors looking for colleges left me comments recently with some truly awesome questions. Among them was “What universities would you recommend for a dancer aspiring to dance with AAADT or Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company [or pick-your-company]?”

First of all, I must say I think classical ballet training is essential for any dancer aspiring to join a professional company. The strength and articulation developed, the attention to detail, the conditioning the body receives… I’m biased, of course, my first love being classical ballet, but this is by no means an uncommon opinion.

Butler Ballet's Nutcracker at CMH.

However, if you know a certain company holds a dear place in your heart, the best thing to do is to get on the company’s website and look through the dancers/artistic director/staff bios. My answer to the senior who posed the question above was: “If you want to look at what sort of dancers the company directors have been hiring, you should look at the company bios for both Alvin Ailey and Complexions. For instance, a quick glance through the biographies of the Alvin Ailey dancers revealed that many had graduated from the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program in dance. You can then look at the schools that appear — or at the curriculum of the schools as compared to Butler’s degree plan or to other schools’ courses.

Obviously, going to a a certain school provides no guarantee of a job offer, but by looking at the dancers in the company you can get a sense of what sort of person the artist director likes to hire. I firmly believe jobs come in the largest part based on your actual dancing, on your performance during an audition. However, these are some questions I’ve been considering as I look at companies for which I plan on auditioning this spring. They would apply equally well, I think, to the college search.

  • What sort of training do the dancers have? Are they all Balanchine? ABT? Taylor?
  • What diversity of technique do the dancers have? Do their bios stress only ballet training, or do they list techniques as varied as tap, African dance, and flamenco?
  • How much experience did the dancers have before they were hired? Does the director hire them straight out of high school? College? Do they feed in their dancers from an affiliated school? Do all their dancers have performing experience with other companies prior to being hired?
  • Are any of the dancers college graduates? Though I think the practice of hiring only super young dancers (so they can mold them or whatever) is a bit antiquated, some companies still think twenty is too old. The good news is that hiring college graduates has been more of a trend.

I hope these questions help both dancers looking into professional companies and dancers looking for college programs that will help them prepare for their ideal companies. You can also look at a list of the companies Butler alumni have joined. (And there’s another one here for some reason.)