I spent the last few months of my junior year devising a challenging summer packed with the joy of fresh experiences and collaborations.
For a dancer, summer is one of the more formative times to personalize one’s education. It is also a time to experiment and to travel. Dance is an ever changing art form, continually developing in radical ways around the world.
As I wrote applications for grant proposals, and furiously emailed for connections to different programs, I considered what tools I wanted to develop to help myself carve a promising route to senior year. I wanted to travel, to meet as many dancers and choreographers and creators as possible, and to be completely and utterly scared by the challenges—at least a few times. After dancing for 13 hours a day in Berlin, improvising with a group of 40 dancers, composers, and choreographers in Banff, performing a monologue onstage in an original play, working with a choreographer and composer in San Francisco, and creating a show with a collaborative non-for-profit organization, I would say that I succeeded in my goals, especially by putting myself in challenging circumstances. This balance of trepidation and jam packed excitement fueled me to enter my final year at Juilliard with the knowledge that I can be a versatile artist.
One of the most astounding and inspirational moments of my summer was my time at Banff Center for the Arts. Banff is located just outside of Calgary, BC. This state-of-the-art facility is located high above sea level among a huge cluster of pine tree covered mountains. I attended a program that focused on creating a laboratory setting for composers, choreographers, and dancers to experiment. I spent days learning about sound waves and improvising to the vibration of various frequencies, and participating in Pauline Oliveros sound tuning scores.=
The variety of my experiences and the environments in which my discoveries took place prepared me to come back to the Juilliard building. This building is a space that brings back memories of three years past, which are each challenging in their own way. Yet I found that the building is recharged with an energy and a diversity similar to my summer of nomadic discovery. In just the first few days of classes I took Gaga (a sensation-based improvisation technique), classical pointe, Memphis-style Jookin with Lil’ Buck, and helped the tapper Michelle Dorrance develop material for her upcoming piece with American Ballet Theatre. I came back to Juilliard with an expectation of a solid structure, and I was met with a community that is as varied as my travels.
As the weeks stretch on my goal is to continue to pull from the vibrant artistic spaces I inhabited this summer, and to apply these to collaborations and interactions in my senior year. In an era of change for Juilliard (a new president and two new division heads are shaking up the expectations of years past), I look forward to diving into the unknown with the knowledge that the world is full of scary and wonderful revelations, if you enter with the heart of a curious nomad.