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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 “Midwinter”

Post-Midwinter Ramblings

Wow. This Midwinter Dance Festival has been amazing — the perfect way to say goodbye to a dance department tradition. As you probably know, I had the good fortune to perform Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero, set by guest Kevin Irving and rehearsal-managed by Butler professor Derek Reid. Dancing such a brilliantly inventive and detailed work was amazing. It feels weird to know I won’t be performing it again tonight or tomorrow.

Even in the studio, once we progressed further into the rehearsal process, dancing the piece became very emotional. I don’t mean emotional in the sense of getting choked up or anything terribly sappy, but each run required a complete commitment of focus and intention — and finally it stemmed from someplace authentic, rather than existing as superimposition. My goal now is to inject this type of artistic expression into the movement much, much earlier. Ideally, it happens right away. That’s what maturing as an artist is all about, I suppose.

Onstage, dancing for an audience? What a thrill. The audience, the lights… (The lighting throughout the show came courtesy of the talented Laura Glover.) After we finished, we shared a group hug. (Well, we has group hugs before each show as well.) Then we went down to the dressing rooms to change into street clothes and go home. How odd it was — I felt like surely I should be doing something else — perhaps still walking extremely slowly with a downcast focus or stepping in a stately back-driven pattern.

Then I saw my family, many of whom had come long distances to see me before I graduated. My grandparents, my parents, aunts, a sister, an uncle, cousin-in-law, cousins… We went to my apartment and sat and talked for about an hour after the show, just catching up. I love to hear others’ impressions of all the different pieces in the performance — and this program was supremely diverse, which was wonderful — but more than that, I relished the chance to leave performing mode gently, rather than in an abrupt see-ya-later-it’s-been-great departure.

I went to bed late (because it takes me a while to wind down after being onstage) and very, very happy.

Snow for Midwinter

The snow was falling in the extra large, soft flakes Tuesday morning, just in time to set the scene for Butler Ballet’s Midwinter Dance Festival. The Dance Department planned this on purpose, of course.

This marks production week for the Butler Ballet. Monday was a full run through in the dance studios, and Tuesday afternoon/Wednesday morning was spacing in costume onstage. Wednesday afternoon: Tech rehearsal. Thursday: Dress. Then opening night comes Friday, February 17 at 8 pm in Clowes Memorial Hall.

With each show I perform here, I feel more confident — not so much in the technical sense (though the hope is to improve there as well!), but because I feel more relaxed, more able to project an emotion, whether that be horror at the curse cast on baby Aurora or the regal poof! of the snow queen sweeping away the snowflakes, or simply the happiness of a peasant-type character. (There are aproximately five million peasants in Coppélia. I’m getting ready!)

Por Vos Muero‘s beginning section is rather emo in a way, and I love to watch the duets the most. To dance, though, my favorite is the middle group dance and three girls’ dance. The group dance is supposed to be a sort of social dance, and the three girls’ dance is quick and (when I jump in the air, shaking my head as wildly as I dare during my little solo) saturated with such gleeful abandon.

The moment before the music starts, I breath out and think about something silly my boyfriend told me about analytic chemistry, and I can’t stop the beginnings of a smile. Then the music starts and I’m swept away in the movement.

And… Just like an elementary school book report, I won’t tell you how the story ends. There’s also:

  • Bournonville’s Flower Festival staged by Marek Cholewa — a demonstration of technically brilliant footwork. Bournonville offers one of the most playful permutations of classical ballet; I had to smile while watching it.
  • A piece by visiting assistant professor Michael Johnson — with live music. Every time I see this piece, my brain starts firing away different memories or emotions. You’ll want to watch it more than once.
  • A brand new, large-scale piece by professor Cynthia Pratt, with music by The Black Keys, detailing an argument between two lovers. The piece is narrative, funny, visually engaging, and a bit mischievous. My friend is the principle dancer, and I think she’s just the bee’s knees.
  • Stephan Laurent’s Enigma Variations offers an object lesson in theme and variation choreography. With supremely inventive partnering and lifts, along with creative use of gesture, the piece leaves one still wondering at the end… *cue dramatic music* …perfectly fulfilling the implied promise of the title.

You’ll have to come see it for yourself!

Time for another Studio Dress

That’s right, this Saturday marked the ever-popular Studio Dress rehearsal, wherein the entirety of Butler Ballet gathers to run the show in order, with costumes, in the largest dance studio in Lilly Hall.

Studio Dress generally lasts much longer for The Nutcracker than for Midwinter Dance Festival or the spring story ballet because usually only The Nutcracker is double cast, necessitating two full runs. This year, we split The Nutcracker studio dress rehearsal into two days, because President Danko’s inauguration cut into the rehearsal slot. An oddity, if you recall.

Studio Dress, step-by-step:

  • Up at 8:30 to clean the kitchen and eat breakfast, in that order
  • English homework until 10:30
  • Prep for rehearsal (make lunch, do hair, get dressed, warm up) until 11:30
  • Walk to dance studios
  • Warm-up at 12:15
  • Gather costume, do hair again after warmup, 1 pm ish
  • Run the program!
  • Film classwork for audition videos…
  • Church!
  • Chinese food outing!
  • Prep for audition tomorrow
  • Sleep (forthcoming)

And that’s my rather uninteresting schedule of events. Notice I did not include laundry, which means I’ll be washing a few things in the sink before the week is out… I don’t need nice tights for the shows, though, since our beautiful costumes lack leg coverings.

Come see Midwinter!

Set to go: Midwinter 2012

This past Tuesday marked the last day Butler’s Department of Dance hosted guest repetiteur and teacher Kevin Irving, who set Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero for the Butler Ballet’s Midwinter Dance Festival.

After two solid weeks of rehearsals, we bid farewell to Mr. Irving and now continue to rehearse under dance professor Derek Reid. There’s a lot to work on — naturally, since we can always improve always in perpetuum — but I look back and see that everyone involved in the piece has come a long way.

Musicality, musicality, musicality.

The intricacy of the choreography requires a most exact sense of the music and makes working on the piece a rather delightful challenge. As our department chair said in another article, “The Butler Ballet is excited and humbled to have been selected as the only American College Dance program to perform a Nacho Duato work.”

We are all honored, and I for one am very excited… if my relentless posts on the subject haven’t convinced you, check out this article from the Butler Collegian, where I rave yet more (and more incoherently, probably) about the Midwinter Dance Festival this year.

As absorbed as I’ve been in the rehearsal process for Por Vos Muero, I haven’t seen too much of the other works in the show. I caught my first glimpse of Bournonville’s Flower Festival yesterday, which was exciting. I love the airiness of Bournonville choreography, and it offers a different view of classical ballet than the usual Petipa story ballet.

I highly recommend the Midwinter Dance Festival to anyone who has not been exposed to a lot of dance. Because the pieces come from a wide variety of genres and aren’t as lengthy, it makes for a good introduction. Make sure you buy your tickets for the shows on February 17 and 18 at 8pm!

If you’re in Indianapolis for the Superbowl… you should probably stick around for another two weeks so you can see Midwinter.   : )

Can you tell which dancer is me?

The Final Steps

Of this particular dance, of course… We did our first full run-through of Por Vos Muero today! Butler Ballet will be performing a shortened version of the work, which I think a school in Europe also performed?? I’m not exactly sure and should probably find out the truth before spreading rumors on the internet, but anyway…

I had whiplash the day after I and two others got the choreography for the three girls dance after our large group dance. Also, a huge bruise in my armpit from trying to get a certain lift over and over. The choreography is very intricate, so I just have to continue to review the steps over and over until they are engrained in my muscles.

This process has been so much fun. It’s probably one of my favorite pieces I’ve had the opportunity to learn. I only hope that I will be able to find a place in the professional dance world where I can dance wonderful choreography like this. Dreams… Everything seems to lead back to audition season, doesn’t it?

Clowes Memorial Hall

Working with Kevin Irving

Kevin Irving -- click through for source.

The big happenings in my life revolve around the dance department for the moment. We’ve been rehearsing, rehearsing for our Midwinter Dance Festival. As I’m sure you know by now — since I keep talking about it — this year’s commissioned piece is Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero, being set by guest artist Kevin Irving.

So far we’ve learned a group dance and various duets. The piece is actually mostly a series of duets. I had a rehearsal on Friday morning and learned my section, third “naked” pas at the beginning of the piece. (Explanation for the epithet: We’re wearing flesh-colored leotards.)

This Saturday, I worked with Mr. Irving for two hours on the duet. I ate half a sandwich while he worked with the first two duets, then we tried to string the first section together into the group dance. The group dance came next, then one of the pas from the end of the piece — and then a costume fitting! The costumes are beautiful, and mine actually fit. This might be the first time in a very long time I haven’t required a zillion alterations.

I simply must include a plug for Mr. Irving. I love working with him. He is demanding but clear, and he goes at just about the perfect pace for my learning preferences. Also, one of my best friends is the principal dancer in one of the other Midwinter pieces as well as understudying three parts in Por Vos Muero. So as much as I feel busy… She’s like a superwoman.

This was the last first day

This was the last first day of my undergraduate education. Except, as people have been quick to point out, there will be a last first day in January, a last first day in February, a last first Wednesday of the fourth month of study, etc.

Basically, I’m getting sentimental, but only a touch.

I had Teaching Analysis of the Classical Technique 2, ballet, rehearsal, and my senior essay class today. Besides catching up with friends after the winter break, the day was a whirlwind of learning choreography. Kevin Irving is currently at Butler University to set Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero for the Butler Ballet’s Midwinter Dance Festival, so the first day back in the dance department was full speed ahead as usual.

The Tulsa Ballet in Por Vos Muero

Then I had my Senior Essay class (soon to be renamed as “Advanced Academic Writing” which really sounds much more impressive) and dredged up the past with my BSI paper.

I should tell you more, but I’m ready to drop. Time to get ready for the last second day!

More Dance Finals? Duh

I only discussed the format for the modern, jazz, and ballet technique dance finals last post. We have some sort of final in each class we take. This year, I also had pointe, classical partnering, and contemporary pas.

My pointe class meets twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursdays. (That doesn’t sound like a lot of pointe, I know, but you wear your shoes for rehearsals, partnering, variations, sometimes ballet technique…) During finals weeks, pointe class meets at its normal times. Since we have two teachers, we have two finals. We don’t memorize these finals like we do for ballet and modern — basically it is an ordinary class, except the professors take notes in a sinister, wide-ruled, spiral notebook.

~sinister music~

The classical partnering class meets on Wednesdays, and we had our final the week before the week of Nutcracker runthroughs, which was the week before Thanksgiving Break, which is the week before the show. In the dance department, November and December are dictated by the performance schedule.

Our pas final is usually half of a pas de deux we’ve been practicing for the last two or three class periods. I’ve done the first and second halves of Diana and Acteon, the first part of Don Q (up until 3 min in the video below), and the first half of The Sleeping Beauty wedding pas. We go in groups of two pairs, and we’re graded on our performances.

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For contemporary partnering, we learned six short pas from Nacho Duato’s Na Floresta. The last two classes, the professor assigned each couple one pas at random and taped us performing the entire chunk, couple by couple. I love Duato’s choreography. It feels so organic; it’s detailed, yet free, restrained at the same time it gives itself in abandon. This sounds super cheesy, but it’s the best way I can describe it. I’m so excited we are performing his Por Vos Muero during this year’s Midwinter Dance Festival.

And those were some of my dance finals.

Midwinter Announcement!

Sunday night, the dance majors received a very exciting email from the director of the Department of Dance:

“I am very pleased to announce that this year’s Mid-Winter guest choreographer piece will be “Por vos Muero” by Nacho Duato.  Mr. Kevin Irving, assistant to Mr. Duato will be coming to cast the piece this semester and he will then return to set the work at the beginning of the spring semester.  This is very exciting for us all and continues the legacy of the masterworks that have been presented by the Butler Ballet over the past several years.”

Por Vos Muero:

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The past four years I have been at Butler, our Midwinter Dance Festivals have showcased pieces from the best choreographers.

  • 2012 Nacho Duato, “Por Vos Muero”
  • 2011 George Balanchine, “Walpurgisnacht”
  • 2010 Anthony Tudor, “Dark Elegies
  • 2009 George Balanchine, “Serenade”

I had the good fortune to participate in last year’s commissioned piece, and working with Deborah Wingert was absolutely amazing. (All dance students enrolled in Butler Ballet — i.e. almost all of them — are in the Midwinter show. The commissioned piece is not the only piece. Faculty members choreograph the rest of the program.) We don’t get to pick casting, obviously, and I’ll enjoy any piece I’m in, but I would love to learn Nacho Duato’s choreography, since we are learning the duets from Na Floresta in our Contemporary Partnering class and it is awesome. Video of Na Floresta:

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So much excitement!

Looking Back

Exactly one year ago, I wrote my introductory post for this new blog. I’ve been a blogger since the beginning of my sophomore year, but last year we switched to this new Office of Admission webpage. Truth be told, I think the new version is far superior to the old.

I had to navigate the old go.butler.edu site when I was deciding on colleges as a high school senior, and I remember having a lot of trouble. College websites are the worst. Honestly, you need a PhD to figure out where everything is. But the new admissions site marks a huge improvement, and if you haven’t done so, you should definitely explore the other areas of the www.butler.edu/admission hub! I think the section on residence halls are particularly useful — everything is nice, concise, and in one place.

But back to the past. One year ago, I wrote my new introduction for the new webpage. Today, I again have exciting blog-related news… While searching for the composer of music used in a Midwinter Dance Festival piece I was in as a sophomore, I found my long-lost blog posts!

They are somehow archived as notes in the Butler Class of 2014 Facebook page. How did they get there? Why did half the pictures import and the rest vanish? Why couldn’t I find these before? I don’t know and I don’t care! I’m just happy I found them. I don’t think it’s necessary to repost ALL the old blogs. (This means, “I didn’t realize exactly how many book reviews I posted last summer.”) However, I explain some dance major classes and so on in much more detail, and I hope to get these back to you sometime soon.

In the meantime, I’m going to dance around because it’s my birthday and my roommate gave me a robin’s egg blue tea kettle, and I have pretzels, and my boyfriend baked the most delicious cake.

A different day, a different dessert. Grandma, it was delicious!