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!)
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.