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.
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.