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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 “senior sentimentality”

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.

If only I’d known

This is one of those horribly sappy “letters to myself” posts. Please excuse me, but I really want to tell myself:

Freshman year

  • Yes, you can sleep through that noise in your room, in the adjacent room, in the hall.
  • No, you cannot be so uptight. Be kind and sincere and considerate.
  • Be a better roommate.
  • No, you don’t need to bring your entire tea set to college. Or so many shoes.
  • No, you don’t need to ask so many questions after every jazz class. You’re a dancer. Use your body to figure it out.
  • You shouldn’t try to jump a pas de bourrée. You’ll only end up breaking your toe.
  • Please, please don’t wear those shoes with that skirt. You look like a clown.

Sophomore year

  • Yes, you can sleep through that noise.
  • Yes, you will eventually figure out how to roll the castanets.
  • Yes, you really can do homework/talk/sleep/ponder theories of the world while every other sophomore dance major is also trying to roll the castanets.
  • No, your hair will not fall out when you have to spray it black for Nutcracker performances.
  • That’s not how you rond de jambe en l’air.
  • Yes, your bottom leg will still be functional after Swan Lake, Act II. Yes, that’s tendonitis.
  • Yes, you will finish a double major. Stop stressing.
  • However, you should check with the head of department about requirement confusion.
  • Yes, your stick figure cartoons are amusing in your Music Theory, Choreography, and Global and Historical Studies classes. Now pay attention!
  • Please, please use your knitting savvy and make a tutu base that actually fits your torso instead of bunching up all the fabric on a too-big pattern.
  • On that subject, don’t use pastel, variegated, mohair yarn for your very first lace project.

Junior year

  • No, you really can’t juggle.
  • No, you won’t die if the apartment is slightly messy.
  • No, you shouldn’t use fifteen people in your very first choreographed piece.
  • Yes, that girl really is going to ride on the wrong side of the road. Wait just one minute and the two of you won’t collide.
  • No, fifteen minutes is not three-quarters of an hour. Yes, that boy in your physics class really does like you.
  • Your Irish Lit paper is too convoluted.
  • Yes, you really will get through Choreography II. No, you shouldn’t try to make a piece that’s entirely petit allegro.
  • You don’t actually have to learn the proof of standard deviation.
  • Please, please don’t be so ambitious about your BSI project. You can’t prove that thesis, no matter how hard you try.

Senior year

  • Don’t fouetté like that! You are going to sprain your toe, then inflame your tendon, then miss your chance to dance the Sugarplum Fairy. Just back away slowly…
  • No, it’s not the end of the world when that does happen.
  • Yes, you should ask for help with the Por Vos Muero music before rehearsal starts in January.
  • Your French teacher speaks Welsh. Ask her about it before the final exam.
  • Talk to your family more often.
  • Everything will work itself out in the end.
  • That leotard is on inside out.

Turning points in my life always turn me sappily reflective. It happened with high school, too. What interesting things have you learned throughout the course of high school/college/your young adult years that you wish you’d known beforehand?

** Oh, and one more: Don’t put potato peels down the kitchen sink. It will clog. **

Butler Commencement

So we graduated. The day was perfect — not the sweltering weather I’d been expecting, virtue of the example set by my high school graduation. We arrived in the West Gym in Hinkle Fieldhouse promptly at 9 am. I chased after various people to fix my graduation card, since they left off my honors in both my majors, though I have finished all the requirements except my French class for a core requirement… Oh well, I’ve been confused about my degree plan for semesters; why should it stop at Commencement?

So we processed, we listened to soulful speeches, and we sat for over an hour waiting for the JCFA, the sixth college, to be called. I played “I Spy” with a friend next to me. I clapped after my friends’ names; I smiled as my roommates passed by. Then it was my turn to stand and wind my slow way down the aisle, to mount the stage, to hear my name called, to receive my diploma cover and to shake President Danko’s hand, to run along the back hall of Hinkle in an attempt to get back to our seats before the ceremony finished. And we all clapped and processed (very slowly) out of the Fieldhouse onto the sunny, crowded sidewalks to take a class picture and find our families.

I said “diploma cover,” not “diploma.” Yeah, that last French class means I got a blank diploma until my real graduation in August. Whoops.

It feels surreal, like I haven’t actually graduated (well, I haven’t), like I’m not done with school yet (well, I just spent two hours on my French homework), like I’m still returning to Butler in the fall (well, I’m visiting during the summer)… I still feel like a Butler Bulldog.

I guess I always will be.

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!

The Final Finals Week

I survived my last finals week of my undergraduate career! It wasn’t too bad, though I was pretty busy at the beginning of the week. The beginning of the week also marked my final Flip the Script!

Flip the Script is an event that SGA and the CPA (I think… please let me know if that’s wrong) put on during finals week. Basically, the teachers/faculty serve breakfast from 9-10 pm to the students in the Atherton cafeteria. There are usually raffles too, and this year they raffled off an iPad which my roommate really wanted to win. (But did not.) There were pancakes, hash browns, eggs, bacon, and pastries.

Battling my way through the crowds of people to get to the water cups really brings you back. I do not miss my cafeteria days — I’m so much happier not on a meal plan — but it was neat to relive the madness for a last time before graduating.

Also, the eggs were pretty good.

This year, both my English classes finished up before finals week proper began, so I wasn’t as stressed. I did study and take the huge comprehensive final for the Dance Department, plus I had French exams (written and oral), a Teaching Analysis of Classical Technique project and final, and a Theory and Philosophy of Dance final. By Wednesday afternoon, my load was much lighter. By Saturday afternoon, I was done!

I finished college!

Celebrating after our ballet finals!

Now, onto my French independent study

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!

Coppélia Performances

Oh my goodness, this past weekend’s performances of Coppélia were completely overwhelming — in the best of ways. Putting the experience into words is so difficult. Of course things didn’t go perfectly. The last night, when I finally got all the fouetté turns at the end of the ballet, I almost ate it on the pull in. It’s never perfect.

But while I am not satisfied with the performances (if I were satisfied, I don’t think I would be trying to produce art), I am overjoyed and overwhelmed and (though sad it is over) still riding on an incredible high. It might not be perfect, but oh my goodness, it’s so much fun.

Seniors on the ladder!

Class on Monday was painful for sure! When the adrenaline from performing was gone, the fatigue/soreness it masked definitely remained. The life of a dancer… We are busy preparing for dance finals. Academic classes are winding down too in a flurry of projects and tests and papers. This is the last final season I will have at Butler.

Somehow everything seems less real for a few days after we leave the theater. I’m getting ready for finals, of course, but part of me is still on that stage, smiling or crying or clenching my fists or falling in love or prancing around, full of mischief. Dancing Swanhilda was a tremendous blessing, and I know I will miss it so much. The only remedy? On to the next performance!

I know I’m dancing in the Spotlight gala at Clowes and then in Carbondale for the Southern Illinois Music Festival… and then who knows what adventures wait for me in Tulsa? It’s scary and exciting, and I feel much more prepared to meet that challenge after the whirlwind that was Coppélia.

Final Preparations

You see, these are the final preparations… because I’m a senior… preparing for finals… Oh dear.

I promise I’ll get to Coppélia performing was such an amazing experience, I’m having the hardest time putting it into words. This week is still pretty busy, though. What happens the week after Coppélia?

Many things.

  • Field trip to Congregation Beth-El Zedeck for my Midrash English class. Congregation Beth-El Zedeck
  • TURN IN my senior English essay. It’s not as good as I want it to be, but I’m done. Done. Done.
  • Plan for our last senior ballet technique final. The seniors always include some sort of skit or prank or something for their last ballet final. Last year, the senior class did a basketball-themed entrance and even had some of the basketball team show up in tutus! The year before was Olympic-themed with students each on one of the professor’s teams (Team Cholewa = Poland, since Professor Cholewa is from Poland). This year… you’ll have to wait and see, since it’s top secret.
  • Final projects, etc. I don’t like to think about those.

This week continues the whirlwind of my final month at Butler!

I’m so busy; this is why:

Things that happened:

Top 101 Students Banquet: We got a Butler Catholic Community picture with most of the BCC who were in attendance!

The Undergraduate Research Conference is coming! I have to prepare for two presentations, one on my BSI project, one on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Of course, all this happens on the opening night of Coppélia.

Sigma Rho Initiation… We welcomed many, many new members into the dance service fraternity. And there are only five of us seniors left — even fewer than at the beginning of the year!

Dramatic poses in front of the fountain we are restoring as our class gift.

Right now, production week is happening, and I’m most likely in the theater. (This is most definitely a scheduled post.) As always, I have the very strong opinion that you should see Coppélia!