As not only a new college student, but as someone from a different state and culture, when I think of my new life and experiences at Ohio State, I can’t help but compare them to my old ways and habits. Everything about life in college and Ohio is different from my life at home, and this includes the process of choreography, reparatory, and rehearsals. The most notable difference is that to get the opportunity to work in a creative setting is 100% dependent on personal initiative. With the meager credit requirement for reparatory, it can become easy to get lost in the sea of the hectic department and never get your body or brain on stage. Even in high school settings where adjudication was mandated for choreography, timeslots were allotted to us and unless there was a serious issue almost all work got made.
So far this semester I’ve had the opportunity to dance in two of my peers’ works. This required attending the studios at late hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and even hauling myself to Sullivant on Sundays. My friends in other majors are perplexed by such extracurricular demands. What they don’t realize is these are personal needs, not university regulated demands. And after all of this chiseling away at personal time others get to use for studying, socializing, and the occasional eating and sleeping (but who needs it, right?), adjudication in college is not the lenient process it was in high school. The hard truth for lowly undergraduate choreographers and dancers is that their hard work will not necessarily get to be showcased. I had the opportunity to be part of one of such pieces that did not get adjudicated. It is certainly a let down as a dancer, and I can hardly imagine the disappointment for the choreographer. However, that is part of the experience, and quite frankly being used to consistent rejection is one of the most important skills a dancer entering the professional world can have. Regular people are baffled by such dedicated work that doesn’t necessarily promise a definite reward. (I think this speaks to the entire nature of our major, as it is so time consuming and demanding, but doesn’t promise the same six figure salary of an engineering degree).
Ultimately, however, knowing the work you’re putting in is entirely comprised of your personal will, motivation, and time is what makes working in peer’s work, and hopefully eventually staging my own work, so rewarding. For one of the pieces I’ve taken part in, I was not asked, I had to seize an opportunity of a demand for dancers. However, even accepting an offer to be in a piece is still a form of self motivation. So often in high school when rehearsals were scheduled by instructors, whether they were student or professional pieces, it felt more like imposed work than voluntary participation in art. As is for all adolescents, I never much enjoyed being told what to do. Working one on one with people of my age, totally voluntarily, to collaborate in our craft, is so rewarding and almost feels so adult, minus our unprecedented luxury of beautiful studios at our disposal 24/7. I’m personally excited to be allowed to experience the other side of it and be a student choreographer. It is an added bonus of the dance major to be able to explore our craft independently and be supported in these endeavors with a space and performance venue that people looking in from the outside may no understand and perceive and cumbersome. Little do they know how lucky we are to have this subculture of students without interference of formal instruction.