dance

Commencing 

Well, year three is in the books.  I am sitting at (my new) home, in Utah, still sort of in shock over the fact that I have completed yet another successful year at The Ohio State University.  OSU has actually become more home to me geographically than anywhere else.  It’s where I have spent the majority of my time and energy over the last few years.  I remember the first time I actually called it “home” and how weird that felt. Now, I have one year left until I will be making a new home somewhere in the world.  

I titled this post “Commencing” because a few days ago, I finally began work on my senior project.  It eerily became real because now I am actually doing all of the things I have been talking about doing for the past year. (You can click this link for more information about my project) The end of this past semester was full of so much confirmation that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.  I took two classes that paralleled my interests in blackness in dance and helped me to explore blackness more generally in America and musically throughout the Diaspora.  It was so powerful for me to make connections and to see that the things that I observe at work in the dance field have larger, societal roots as well.  In my Music of Africa and the Diaspora class, we had a guest lecturer, Dr. Denise Noble, talk about Dancehall music in Jamaica.  I was intrigued by the way in which Black women’s bodies functioned within this Jamaican context, and I immediately felt that it had some connection to the ways in which Black women’s bodies in America function as well.  Dr. Noble and I  connected later as I interviewed her for my final paper that I wrote for that class. One of the biggest things that I took away from our conversation is that this thing — this particular structure that surrounds and suppresses Black people — is global.  It’s a part of the legacy left behind that touches every single country in the African Diaspora and every African nation that has been colonized by Europeans.  I am now struck by the vastness of what I want to do. 

I think I have found (one of) my life’s work(s).  I simply cannot get at everything in a year while taking general education classes and trying to graduate on time.  But what I know is that my work will not end simply at the end of my final year of undergrad.  I wrote in my senior project proposal that I want to work to ensure that no other little black girl has to grow up feeling the way that I did/do.  As a woman, finding peace with your body can be hard work — especially when your body is encased in black skin.  This applies broadly in America where black bodies still are under attack, but more specifically in a dance studio. I had know clue how much meaning this statement would take on when I said this three years ago as I wrote my artist statement for this blog, but dance is for everyone.  There is no perfect body or size.  No one should every have to question their place or if they belong here for any reason. My sister, you will fit, because I am breaking the mold for you. 

So as I commence this process, I am very excited, very nervous, and borderline already overwhelmed, but I am motivated.  I’m not just doing this for me.  I am taking the first few steps now, but I refuse to be timid.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me! To God be All the Glory! 

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&…

Bear with me, the title will make sense in a bit, but first let me provide some context…

Today, the Department of Dance hosted one of the most iconic figures in dance, Arthur Mitchell.  He came and gave us an amazing overview of his incredible life — from growing up on the streets of Harlem, how he found dance, becoming the first Black man to dance with the New York City Ballet (then under the direction of George Balanchine), to when he founded his own, now world-renowned company, the Dance Theater of Harlem.  He’s such a beautiful soul, so full of joy and life at the wonderfully seasoned age of 81.  (His 82nd birthday is next month, actually!)

He talked so long that we didn’t have much time for questions,  but my hand shot up as soon as we were able.  I thought of this last night: How do we change the perception surrounding dance in the Black community and engage more Black youth in ways that encourage them to pursue dance professionally.  So often, there is this perception that dance is not good enough for us.  We have to achieve more, do better, and prove ourselves to society.  “Anybody can dance.  We need more Black doctors, lawyers, etc.” is what I’ve been told.  I asked Mr. Mitchell about this, and he told me that “you just that you have to make up your mind for yourself.  You set the example.”

In a blessed coincidence, I happened to be at the elevator at the same time that he and one of his dancers, Paunika Jones, were being escorted back to their car.  Paunika started chatting with me further about my question, and we ended up walking out of the building together.  She then proceeded to blow my mind and challenge every single perception of myself that I have. She asked me if I was taking the ballet class that Mr. Mitchell was teaching later today.  I told her no, and she asked why not.  I said, laughing, “Oh, I’m not a ballet dancer!”

She looked at me and said, “Do you hear yourself?”  I stopped and was immediately blown away by the way in which I was refuting myself.  Ballet is inextricable from all classical forms of dance.  I do ballet here in my studies at OSU.  I grew up in the ballet technique.  So why do I label myself?  Why do I put myself in a box?  That’s part of the problem, Paunika told me (in reference to engaging Blacks in dance).  We tell ourselves that we can’t do things; we limit ourselves in our minds.  Just because something isn’t my greatest talent, doesn’t mean I’m incapable of doing it.

I found myself tearing up.  My biggest fight since I’ve been in dance has been overcoming myself.  My insecurities about my body, about my technique, about my inadequacies — no one has ever given them to me.  They have all been dredged up and put on by me.  Mr. Mitchell said today in his talk that we can be anything that we want to be.  We just have to work to be our best selves at it…

My name is Kylee Cedreice Smith.  I am a Black dancer…

& a contemporary dancer

& a modern dancer

& a ballet dancer

& a choreographer

& a writer

&…

whatever else I ever want to be.

No more limits. No more, “I can’t.” Starting today.

Thank you OSUdance, for continually bringing me these opportunities that change me and allow me to grow in invaluable ways. Thank you to Arthur Mitchell for sharing, & thank you to Paunika Jones for taking a few minutes of your time to be a true mentor. 

Me & the Legend, Arthur Mitchell. 

   

  

Overcoming Aesthetic Differences: It’s All about Attitude

Happy 2016! I know it’s rather late in the game for me to be saying that, but this is my first post of 2016, and absolutely not to be the last.  I have been telling some of my latest followers that it is my goal this year to establish a more regular blogging schedule.  I am really learning so much in my life right now, and I want to share this journey with all of you.  So, please help me stay accountable and be on the look out for a post from me bi-weekly (every 2 weeks)!  I’ve made it a goal for this semester to be more regular and intentional about private and public self reflection, and my blog is a huge part of my public reflection.  I’m so excited to continue in this process with you.

Now, to the meat of this post —

Over the last five and half months, I have been working with one of our graduate students, Kristina D’onofrio, on her Masters of Fine Arts thesis project.  She had this amazing idea of incorporating the Psalms into dance, and when she told me about it in Fall 2014, I thought it was an amazing idea and definitely wanted to be a part of the work.  When Fall finally came, I was still committed to working with her.  However, it became really evident soon into the project that we have some really major aesthetic differences.  She’s an extremely talented ballet dancer, and I have never ever wanted to be a “‘trina” and have become really steeped in modern dance since I’ve been in this department.  I found myself feeling way out of my comfort zone and struggling to master the choreography as quickly the others were.

Then, we started having rehearsals with dancers from BalletMet’s trainee program — girls that were hard core ballerinas aiming to make real, professional careers out of ballet. I was so intimidated.  I had a scheduling conflict that caused me to be late to rehearsals, and so I would always be a little confused about what was happening.  This compounded with the insecurities I felt about being around these girls who were dancing in pointe and left me doubting myself.  I came into every rehearsal thinking, “These BalletMet dancers must think that I am a fat, lardo, trainwreck of a dancer.” (So many of my insecurities are still body centered, but I’m working on it.) I started dreading those two hours twice a week, and I saw myself as really insignificant to the overall success of the piece.  I spent a lot of time thinking, “How late is too late to drop out?  If I had known I would feel this way back in October, I would have definitely quit then.”  I carried this with me right into tech week.

But then, I had an amazing speaker come in and talk to my Buckeye Leadership Fellows cohort.  His name was Dwight Smith, and he founded a program called My Special Word, which goes out and talks to young people about their values and then helps them to come up with a word or group of words that they feel encompasses who they are or who they want to become.  He led my group through a similar activity.  The word I came up with is creator.  I want to create a better world for girls like me, especially in dance.  This has long been my goal.  I’m a dancer and a writer; I create movement, stories, and worlds with my body and with my words.  There — that’s who I am.  This reminder was so focusing and clarifying.

Here I was on the night of dress rehearsal suddenly realizing that I had been approaching this entire experience the wrong way.  I got to perform this past week.  That’s what I want to do with my life.  Not everybody has that opportunity, and I am so blessed to have even held a small part in making Kristina’s vision into reality.  Beyond that, I learned what it’s like to reconcile aesthetic differences; the challenge of this work will be in my heart and mind in the future, because I know that I’m not going to always like every dance that I’m a part of.  I also walk away from this experience with new friends — it’s so great to have bonded with dancers in a different field, and I hate that it took me so long to open up and let them in.  I found out that many of them were feeling the same way that I was about the choreography, and it was really cool to learn about their unique lives.

My mom always told me that your attitude can make a world of a difference in your situation.  She’s so right.  My performance was so much better because I finally brought an attitude of thankfulness and joy to my work.

Thank you so much, Kristina, for not giving up on me and letting me be a part of this.  I’m truly forever grateful.

Blessings and Light. 

Enjoy some pics of me and my cast! 

    
    
   

The Power of a Movement: #UnconventionalBlackBeauty 

I originally wrote this about a week ago, and I finally worked up the gumption to post it.  So here we go…

I got a notification from Twitter this morning saying that some of my friends were tweeting about “#UnconventionalBlackBeauty.” Immediately, I logged on to see what it was all about. I was stunned by the message that Black women especially were sending through this simple hashtag. They were saying, “I am beauty too. I may not be Naomi Campbell with the slender nose and long straight hair extensions, and I may not measure up to the Eurocentric standards that define beauty in today’s society, but I am the image of beauty as much as they are.” It immediately struck a cord with me. I found myself getting emotional, because this message strikes so closely to my own heart as well.

In my opinion, being a Black dancer, is often like being told that you have to fit into a predetermined mold that you often cannot even begin to identify with. Maybe your body fits into the shape, but the color of your skin will never fit the mold. My body doesn’t fit the shape, and for this reason, I have literally hated my body, my God-given shape and genetics, since the 6th grade. I’ve struggled with a positive self-Image for so long that even now the lines still get blurry for me. It’s not that anyone explicitly told me that I was too fat (and too Black) to be a dancer, but I always knew that I would never be able to be a ballerina because I didn’t have the “body” for it. I told myself this so as to not give anyone else a chance to hurt me with this knowledge. I resented the things that made me look so much bigger than the other girls standing at the barre. At 12, I was mistaken for a 16 year old. At first, I thought that this was because of the way I looked in my face, but it was actually because of the way my body had developed.

My senior year in high school, the only thing I wanted to do was lose weight and get into a good dance program. For me those two were tightly linked because my biggest fear was that someone would reject me because they thought I was too big. It got to the point where I lied about my weight on some of my applications.

In college, I started to accept myself for who I was a little more. I’m fortunate to be in a dance department now that is comprised of a variety of body shapes and sizes. It became a little bit less of a worry for me, and after I returned from Costa Rica last June, I was finally able to say that I was happy with my body. I liked the way I looked. But then, those little voices of doubt started to eat away at that self-confidence. I look at pictures of my self and wish my thighs weren’t so big. I wish that I had a thigh gap and a super flat, toned stomach. I wish my leotard didn’t cut into my butt so much.

I’ve contemplated eating disorders. I was a middle schooler counting calories before I really even knew what they were. I’ve cried myself to sleep over this. Agonized over bathing suits and tights over this. I have been miserable because if this.

But today, I realized something: forget trying to fit into the mold. I am unconventional Black beauty. I have hips and a nice, big, round behind. I have thick thighs that spread when I sit down. My stomach isn’t always flat either. These are things that I identify with my ethnic heritage — with my mother and my grandmother and my great aunties — one of the very most important parts of who I am. So I have a message for the dance world: I’m done hating myself to try to make you love me. Either you can accept me as I am or miss out on the gift that God has given me to share with the world. I’m going to share it with or without your approval. I’m going to shatter the tired, Eurocentric standards of beauty and dance to pieces. You can either join me or stand in my wake. I will not rest until I can help another little black girl learn to love herself without all the struggle and heartache that I have endured. #UnconventionalBlackBeauty

From Fear to Success

For the final study in my Composition II course, we were directed to make a piece, 3-4 minutes long, to a song/sound/music of our choice. Pretty much there weren’t many parameters set for us.  I had been sitting with an idea for a piece that I was already calling “Bloodlines” in my head, and I decided to use this assignment to begin to develop it.  “Bloodlines” is an exploration of two of my greatest passions: dancing and writing.  I wanted to integrate spoken word into dance, allowing myself to share everything that I had with my audience — the things that I cannot articulate in words through dance and the things that I can best say through poetry.

This piece is for my people — my ancestors.  I have grown up with a strong sense of familial pride. More recently, I have learned the story of how my great great great uncle, Anthony Crawford, was lynched in Abbeville, South Carolina, in 1917.  My great Granddaddy was the first black deputy sheriff in Abbeville, which is recognized as the birthplace and deathbed of the Confederacy.  He could not even arrest a White man for breaking the law on his own.  My Papa helped to build the CSX railway up and down the East coast, a hard and cruel work.  His peers called him “Blue Steel” because his skin was a deep ebony that looked blue at times.   My Nana worked in many of the affluent white households around town for many years; there were times when she had to neglect her own children in order to take care of theirs.  It is hard for me to explain articulately in words, but all of these things stir my soul in a very powerful way.  Today, my Nana is one of the most well-known and respected women in the Abbeville community among both blacks and whites.  I am here at The Ohio State Univeristy, majoring in dance, a concept which could have only been a figment of her imagination for a significant portion of her life and that sometimes she still struggles to understand completely.  My great Granddaddy and Papa passed away many years ago, but not before they could touch my life in an immense way.  I wanted to make a dance that recognized them.  The life, blood, sweat, prayers, and tears that my family gave up in order for me to have the present in which I am living.

I didn’t want this dance to be done at the end of my composition class, so I decided to conquer my fear and adjudicate it for the Department of Dance’s spring concert.  (Adjudication is basically like an audition, but to put a choreographic work into a performance.)  I entered into the process with one goal, to put my name out there.  I wanted the Department to become more aware of my presence, and essentially know, that in the midst of all the amazing talent that we have here, Kylee C. Smith is here, and she has something to add too.  Being selected for the concert was a dream of a dream.

I guess I should have more confidence in myself.  I was shocked beyond words when I received an email saying that my piece was among those that had been selected.

So, “Bloodlines” lives on, and as with any life, it will grow and stretch and change over time.  I am incredibly excited to be given this opportunity.

Below is the most recent video of the work.  Excuse the blurry quality, but technology and I don’t see eye to eye right now.  Don’t worry, I’ll be keeping you updated and posting more videos soon!

Blessings, Love, and Light.

Composition II: First Reflections and Analysis

This semester I took what has come to be one of my favorite courses in my undergraduate career thus far: Composition II. This course, taught by the amazing and incredibly talented, Susan Hadley (seriously, google her!), was a journey in choreography.  While we created several solo studies, we also discussed and had opportunities to work with groups on entrances and exits, formations, choreography, etc.  I learned and grew in my artistry so much as a result of this class.  The following is my first thoughts and reflections on my work in the course, circa September 30, 2014. Enjoy!

I think one of my main difficulties thus far has been locomotion.  I have been told that I am a “stand and deliver” kind of dancer.  In some ways, I avoid creating extremely active choreography because it is harder for me personally to produce and to fully realize in my own body.  I have this worry of forgetting my choreography while presenting, so I make up things that are easier for me to recall and perform well.  Furthermore, my life right now does not lend itself to hours spent in the studio perfecting material.  So when I do have the time to choreograph, I put together something that my body and I can remember with less practice; unfortunately, this leads to the creation of the “same old, same old,” regular movement style that I am familiar and comfortable with: “stand and deliver.”  I’ve found that when I am pushed to go beyond this, however, the material becomes much more “interesting” in many ways.  I think that in order to explore these new areas, I have to push myself to turn down the road less traveled and trust myself to have the ability to make it to the end.  Even failure can lead to much gain.  

Another issue that I have struggled with is being authentic with my weight.  I have this idea of falling as a bad thing, so its use tends to be on a very superficial level.  Last week, in my inversion study, Susan coached me to really use my weight in an honest manner.   What happened? The piece traveled.  I think in many ways, addressing this problem will, in turn, help to solve the other.  I feel that the reason that I do not use my weight is because it is not something that always works well with my current choreographic sensabilities.  I don’t tend to simply improv, throw my weight around, and go wherever my body wants to go.  I much more prefer to put my body where I want it to go.  In fact, I find it extremely difficult to follow my body’s “lead” because oftentimes, I have put it in places from which the options are very limited.  Perhaps exploring a new method of choreography will help me solve both of my issues and arrive at the end of this journey with a greater sense of confidence in mobility and authenticity in weight.

Watching. Learning. Generating.

As a dancer, I see movement in very different ways than other people may. I watch how people walk – whether they are wing-footed or pigeon toed, how people stand – sway-backed or pulled up, how people react to music in dance – rhythmically or non-rhythmically. In my Laban Movement Analysis course this semester, we have been learning how to analyze dance and movement. In one of our assignments, we were asked to reflect on how we as individuals attend to movement – the things that we notice when watching, learning, and generating movement, and even the things that we ignore. Below, I will share with you some of my findings.

When observing dance in a performance atmosphere, one thing that always stands out to me is the emotional response that I have to the movement. I think the reason for this is that when I am performing, I always strive to move my audience in some way, whether small or large. I find that I pay attention to the small things such as hands and focus as well. When I am watching my classmates’ choreography in Composition class, I am very attentive to the hands – their placement and energy are of specific interest to me. Focus is of equal importance to me because it can completely transform the energy and impact of a piece.

The way that I approach movement that I have to learn usually depends on the style. I think that I learn ballet combinations fairly quickly because I am familiar with the vocabulary of ballet as it is very codified, and I’ve had a good deal of experience with it. With contemporary movement, which is very individually stylized, I think that I try to build the material from base up. I gain a general comfort with the basics of the movement, and then add on the details and flairs from there.

When I am generating movement, I typically tend to go with an idea or image that I have in my head. I do not actively sit and imagine choreography before attempting to set something, but rather, I will have an idea and then explore it until I find it to be unsuccessful or it leads to something else. While I notice hands and focus in other’s material, I have come to find that it is usually not something that I pay particular attention to until after I am finished creating and have begun the cleaning/clarifying process.

I don’t know if there is anything that I consciously ignore, but I do favor moving at a moderate pace. Fast movement is hard for me to generate and to maintain for more than short bursts of time. I am working on a piece for my final project in my composition class, and I am struggling to develop choreography that moves for more than a few steps and then dissolves into stillness. When I am dancing my own choreography to silence, I rarely think in terms of counts. My internal timing directs the piece, and I have a difficult time setting counts to material such as that. However, when I choreograph to music, I struggle to separate the timing of my choreography from the beat of the music. I think very much in terms of rhythm even without music, and it is something that is always subconsciously present to me when music is playing, even with I am not actively listening for the rhythm.

I am learning to better analyze the intent behind my movement. If something is supposed to be light and airy, do I achieve that goal? I think a great deal about the quality of the movement itself as well. Qualitatively, do I want my audience to perceive heaviness from my movement, a staccato phrasing, etc.? I make sure that I am on beat when there is an audible one, and I try to find ways to make my internalization of rhythm interesting and dynamic. My composition class has really challenged me to reach beyond the normal parameters of movement that I have set for myself and create movement that breaks my mold.

In conclusion, this assignment has really caused me to stop and tune in to things that I normally do not notice. It is important to know our own styles and habits as it keeps us aware of our potential biases. Once we are aware of these, I think that we have gained access to another level of honesty in our art form.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Dance with Jimmy Ortiz

My two weeks in spent in San Jose, Costa Rica, were beyond amazing.  I can’t really even put it into words — all the positive adjectives that exist can be applied to my experience.  When I first arrived to San Jose, I didn’t have the slightest idea of what I was getting myself into.

On the first Saturday of the trip, I met the choreographer that we were going to be working with, Jimmy Ortiz, and his assistant/translator, GrEivin QuezAc.  Jimmy was a visiting choreographer at OSU last fall.  I wasn’t in his class or his choreography, but I had classmates in both.  I gathered from them that he was an extremely physical mover, specializing in a type of dance called “flying low.”  My classmates and I spent the first weekend of our stay in Costa Rica with Jimmy and GrEi, touring San Jose and visiting one of the country’s inactive volcanos, Volcan Irazu.  On Monday, we started dancing.

Day One: I cried. I was totally physically and mentally unprepared for the class that Jimmy gave us.  I felt so weak and completely out of my league.  In the weeks and months before the trip, I should have been running and lifting weights and doing push ups and conditioning. On Day One with Jimmy, I learned that physical fitness should always be a priority, even as a dancer.  We have to be prepared for anything.  We had several guest teachers while we were studying at Promenade, all students of Jimmy’s, each with their own unique style of movement, and all completely different from anything that I’ve ever done.  But my body surprised me; Day Two with Jimmy was much better, and I didn’t feel like such a complete failure.  The following days were never easy, but I didn’t allow myself to give up.

The physical challenge of dancing was actually incredibly rewarding.  I craved the the intensity.  Some days, I had to talk myself through the class, but it was always worth it.  I am totally aware that I wasn’t always (or often) successful in achieving the aesthetic or movements for which our teachers were asking, but I tried to always do my best and give it my fullest effort.

While dancing at Promenade, I got to know several of the dancers with whom Jimmy is currently working.  There were all phenomenal individuals and supremely talented movers.  Part of what made me love dancing at Promenade was being surrounded by so many people that exuded this raw, organic passion for dance.  Watching them take class and perform had a huge impact on me and how I approach dance now.  I would love to stay and continue to learn from them.

I hope to return to San Jose (or wherever Jimmy is) and dance some more.  I have so much that that I can still learn and experience to better myself and grow as a dancer.  I experienced a great deal of personal growth in only two short weeks.  Lord willing, I still have many years of dance left ahead of me and many more opportunities such as this one.

Dancing in Diversity

The college experience is often said to be a hands on experiment with and exposure to the “real world.”  There is so much emphasis about diversity in culture, ethnicity, faith, etc.  But why should diversity be limited?  Why cannot the dance world be explored in terms of diversity?  As a freshman dance major here at the Ohio State University, I am learning on a first-hand basis how diverse my passion is.

Last week, in my freshman seminar class, we interviewed several individuals across the globe in Europe and South America.  I found it incredibly interesting to see that there are Italians dancing in Sweden and to learn about the state of the dance world in Buenos Aires.  Not only are people crossing cultures and creating incredible multiethnic dance companies and groups, they are bringing their individual heritage to their work.  To me, it is extremely heartening to see that earning a living by dancing in a community or country other than my own will not cost me my heritage.  Jessica Andrenacci, one of our interviewees, said something really striking, “Multinational dance allows you to learn more about yourself and others also.”  One of the things that is most beautiful to me about dance is that different dancers can bring so many diverse things to the art form simply by gathering from their life experiences.  It creates life and breath in choreography, taking humble steps and turning them into something powerful.

For me, dance has always been an incredibly global idea.  I have always said that one of the reasons I want to be a professional dancer is because I want to see the world.  It would be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to have my passion for dance take me to places I could never go otherwise.  I also think it would benefit me greatly as a human and as an artist to be able to observe and take part in cultures other than my own.

Currently, I am taking a class in classical Odissi dance, a traditional Indian dance form.  My respect for the precise, exact grace of the movements has only increased throughout the course.  Simple things like taking a class in a cultural dance form can broaden an artist’s perspective in an innovative and unique way.  I feel that such experiences are fundamental to the growth and continued vitality of dance in the world we live in today.

A Constant Learning Experience

This semester at Ohio State has been a great learning experience for me so far.  I spent the majority of my dance career for the last twelve years training in classical ballet and have had little experience to modern or contemporary dance.  That area of dance is pretty much completely new to me.  Entering into the year, I was excited and frightened at the same time.  Because contemporary dance is so much of a mystery and unexplored territory to me, I was, and still am to some degree, afraid of doing the wrong thing and being judged for it.  Often times in class, I look around at the others; some of them seem so at ease with everything that is going on.  I think I am most insecure when it comes to doing improv.  I had literally zero experience with it before I auditioned for OSU, and I was terrified then.  However, the exercises that my morning contemporary teacher, Sofie, has been having us do across the floor lately have been very helpful! I have learned a lot about the different ways that one can move the body and the ways that mine is most comfortable moving.  It makes me feel safer because we do the movements, or explorations if you will, in groups across the floor, so I do not feel as if everyone is staring at me.

I am in another contemporary class as well.  It is an African fusion class, and I absolutely adore it! It is completely exhausting but very fulfilling.  It pushes me outside of my comfort zone mentally and physically.  The approach to movement is very different than that of ballet.  As in my other classes, it is a constant exploration of me and my body.  I learn something new each and every class period.  I also enjoy the dynamic of the class very much.  My teacher, Abby, also leads us in some improv exercises at the beginning of most classes as well.  Thanks to the work we do in her and Sofie’s classes, I think that at the end of the year I will have grown to be much more comfortable improving; it is integrated into so many classes here at OSU.

Ballet comes as a welcome change every Wednesday and Friday.  I get to wear shoes!  One does not realize it, but not wearing shoes for the majority of one’s classes can be tremendously wearing on the feet.  In ballet class, I truly feel most comfortable.  It is what I have spent the most time training in; I essentially grew up in ballet and pointe shoes.  Ellie, our instructor, is very kind, but demanding.  However, she is very approachable and encourages her students to ask questions.  Despite my comfort in the field, I still have much to learn.  I am so very, very far from perfect — in dance and in all areas of my life.

Overall, with all my classes, my goal is to remain teachable.  I came to college to earn a BFA in dance because I know that in order for me to be successful, there is still much I need to learn.  The only way for me to gain that knowledge is to stay humble and keep an open mind.

(Photo Credit: Lucretia Diaz)

Ana in Shadowlight