I’m not going to lie; college has been weird. Way weird. I came into it really thinking I was prepared for what was to come, but that confidence was instantly torn down after one modest plie in ballet class. I spent 5 months questioning if college was my place, or if I really peaked in high school even if I never felt like it. But such is life. College is about surrounding yourself with people equally as if not more talented than yourself. But as I watched my peers integrate quickly with each other, the upper classmen, grad students and staff, I found myself stuck in a no mans land, wondering if I’d ever fit in. Then, an amazing thing happened. I was cast in a rep piece for winter concert. Not just any rep piece, but Benevolence, choreographed by acclaimed guest artist Chien-Ying Weng. She came in like a storm, setting a rigorous piece on us in just over a week, and was gone in an instant blink of the eye. Working with a talent such as herself was of course rewarding and exhausting, educational and humbling, but the most incredible part of this process was the three weeks that followed under the direction of Noelle Bohaty.
What began as a swift bang of a gong eventually petered out into mild reverberations, that eventually came to a peaceful quiet. Noelle’s work with us was much less physically demanding and even more mentally and emotionally demanding. She forced us to sit down and flesh out who we were in the piece, and by extension, who we were as ourselves. She made our movement art, and our group a sense of community. And before my eyes, I began to watch a shift as I too integrated in the community of OSUDance. I was finally spending time with dancers outside of class, having meaningful conversations with my peers and elders, and felt myself become a part of this larger community that extended from our tiny little nine-person family mothered by Noelle. Spending 7 hours a day in Sullivant Hall without the light of day was taxing, but it was the initiation process. It was the struggle that you read about in all the books and hear about in all the movies that brings people together. Struggles build ties. And with this sense of foundation, and finally shirking off the feeling that I was lost, I felt myself become myself again.
I was able to root out the evils of insecurity and fear and be comfortable and confident in my own abilities and relationships. Being cast in a rep piece and participating in an OSUDance performance has been one of the best experiences of my college career. After four weeks of tears, stress, and a lot of broken stools and leaves that smelled like fish, I emerged confident, comfortable, and reborn into my own skin. It didn’t just make me grow as a dancer, I grew as a person. And as I sit in the library, coming off of a show high from not 24 hours earlier, scrolling through photos from rep, I can’t help but feel both gratefulness and nostalgia. I know that no matter where I go or what I do, these nine people will always hold a special place in my heart, just as they held my metaphorical hand through four weeks of my first experience in college reparatory. I’d like to personally thank Chien Ying Weng and Noelle Bohaty for putting up with my short attention span and spastic ways for 4 weeks. And most importantly, I’d like to thank each member of our little Benevolence family: Jordan McDowell, Grace Robinson, Robin Edigar-Seto, Anthony Milian, Sara Barile, Kelsey Kempner, Katie Procopio, and Alyssa Parnell. Without this group there will be both an empty space in my heart, and my class schedule.