Throughout the semester, between both Contemporary 4101, my ballet classes, and even in my Gen Eds, we’ve been asked time and time again to be reflective on our goals and experiences and what we want to achieve for ourselves. It all goes the same way. In the beginning, a student is wide eyed and hopeful that they can and will achieve anything. By the middle, they accept that some goals just can’t yet be completed. When the end finally comes, you are left with two options: regretting what hasn’t been accomplished and feeling shame knowing you could have tried harder, or accepting the progress that has been made and learning from mistakes. At this point, I am choosing to forgive my own mistakes to see that, while I’ve made many mistakes and bad decisions, I’ve still grown as a dancer and as a person.
My first semester in college has been a rollercoaster. Between reconciling outside school work, getting enough sleep, a brand new social life, and being in a major that requires constant in class vigilance, I often struggled to balance everything. This often meant forsaking putting my full effort and attention in class, especially since I had many a sleepless night. All in all a lot of factors stinted my ability to progress this past semester, whether or not they were self inflicted. But just as I began to pessimistically consider all the lost opportunities to grow this past semester, I’m reminded of what was said on the very last day of Contemporary class; that at our age progress is slow and steady rather than fast and abrupt. No matter what, circumstances are never perfectly conducive to learning, especially being a college student. Even if things are better next semester, I’ll still consistently find myself exhausted, distracted, or overwhelmed. One of the most important lessons I’ve been able to take away from this past semester is how to reconcile external factors to still be able to focus in class, which is something I only just began to achieve by the end of the semester.
The atmosphere I was blessed to be in in Contemporary 4101 was definitely helpful to my transition into college dance. There was always such a positive energy even when it was mid semester and everyone was exhausted and “over it”. It really helped me progress as a dancer and person whereas in any other environment it may have been more difficult for me. Any progress that was made can be owed to that.
To say that I only made minimal progress is also unfair. Everyone changes at least slightly in college, both as a person and as an artist. At the beginning of the semester I set goals to myself that were broad like finding more fluidity in my movement, but I struggled to set an implication plan as was demanded. Now, at the end of the semester, I finally see that implication of any change is as simple as receptiveness. Being receptive to new techniques, new ideas, new teachers and teaching styles, and new peers, is what allows one to grow as an artist. I do think I have finally taken steps to achieving my pre-semester goals and it is thanks to the inherent learning that is done, consciously or unconsciously, by being immersed in a a sea of all things brand new. Every individual has a different perspective on art, dance, and life, and all of it can be learned from so long as one is simply receptive.
Ultimately, this semester, the most important thing I learned is how to learn and how to grow as an artist. All one has to do is be adventurous, be open, and be positive, and growth will ensue.