My Thesis (lol)

Did you know that, in addition to having assorted feelings on the internet, I have also been going to college for the past four years? Well, the one true motivation behind my education was to be on I can leave now.


Screenshoted from here!

Actual thesis here.


Updates (In which I do less than It All)

Things I did this weekend:

  • Performed in the Barnard dance department show at New York Live Arts. The choreographers and dancers were absolutely killing it this year with some beautiful, intelligent, and hilarious work (in addition to being generally awesome people to be around all day).
  • Wrote two papers and a presentation.
  • Struggled with the subway system.
  • Tried really hard not to neglect my parents who flew in to see me.

Choreography by the fabulous Caitlin Trainor. Photo by the fabulous Julia Cervantes. 

Things I didn’t do:

  • Laundry

It’s really really been awhile. I need to catch up before I revert to my super-seasonally-inappropriate clothing reserve and excessive body spray as an alternative to washing.

In related news, I think this is gonna be my new go-to answer for questions like “Is it possible to do dance and academics?”–Yes, but not laundry.

I’m pretty sure this is also the definitive answer to the perpetual question of “Can women Have it All?” (Which women? What’s “all?” No one really seems to care)–No: they can either have a reasonable laundry schedule or everything else, but not both. 

(Feel free to pull that out in interviews, female CEOs.)

I’m gonna go do laundry now.

Post-Show Reflections

I spent the last three days performing in the dance department’s show at New York Live Arts. I was in a piece by Pam Tanowitz which was really great: it’s focused on connecting with the other dancers inside the piece, structurally interesting from the outside, and also just really physical, quirky, and fun to do.

Something that Andrea Miller told us in class Thursday morning, which really stuck with me through the weekend was

The performance is not a cemetery for the dance you’ve been working on. It’s still alive.

Makes sense, right? There are living, breathing humans up on stage doing that dance, and why shouldn’t they be experiencing something new in that moment. Maybe the strict division of process and product was never really meant to be applied to performing art anyway: it’s really always about doing and not (as the piece exists) about being done.

The piece this weekend felt very much like a living organism. Despite being tightly crafted and well-rehearsed (we finished this months ago–I know, that never happens) it’s not a piece where everything can go perfectly in a run, nor does it have to be. It’s filled with challenging technical moments, timing cues taken off of other dancers, and extended, uncounted unisons based on feeling a group rhythm, which mean that it will never be formulaically consistent. As a group, though, we can adjust to the inevitable little inconsistencies in each other’s timing, spacing, and movement and make to piece work wherever it is that day.

We had stronger and weaker moments each show, but I really felt like it kept growing throughout the weekend–the last run felt particularly connected and on-point. (Of course, these feelings may have nothing to do with how the piece actually looked–I’m excited to see the video and know what it’s like from the outside.)

Also, my shiny legging costume has inspired me to buy shiny leggings.

I also managed to not really get sick until after the last show–I was starting to come down with a cold yesterday, but it didn’t really kick in until today. Typical post-event cold I guess: my body is taking advantage of it’s little break to just slow down and get sick. (Actually, that makes no sense at all. I mean, why are we assigning conscious decision making processes to bodily functions? Besides, if I was a magically conscious body with the ability to control if and when I got sick, why wouldn’t I choose to not be sick over breaks either? Seems more restful than cranking up the immune system and being unable to sleep from congestion . . .  So really I have no idea why this happens . . . Google?)

Me this morning

Anyway, the point is I’m done and temporarily dead. And a little relieved. And a little empty. And grateful for this process and everyone who was a part of it. And now I have to finish a paper.

(I’m on Huffington Post!) ‘Ballet-Themed’ Workouts: Why Take the Dancing Out of Dance?

I’ll admit it. I’ve always kind of wanted to be a HuffPo blogger since that site became one of my top sources of procrastination material. So I was super excited when this piece I wrote, reflecting on the trend of ballet-themed workouts, got in. I actually wrote it for my freshman writing class: we were required to submit the piece to a publication as part of the assignment. It worked. 

Here’s a teaser:

I saw another one of those ads today on the side of my browser, trying to sell me another one of those ballet-themed workout classes. It had all the usual features: a picture of a young, lean female instructor, a reference to Black Swan, a statement about toned butts, and of course, the promise of “looking” (not moving, feeling, or being) like a dancer. Of course, this workout would not contain any ballet technique and certainly no actual dancing.

As a lifelong dancer, I am disheartened by such commercial movements, which have managed to strip the dancing out of dance. But even more importantly, I see this “barre workout” trend as a symptom of a culture that teaches people — especially women — to have a relationship with their bodies only from the outside — how they appear to others — while ignoring the internal experience of movement.

I am reminded of art critic John Berger’s statement about subjects in both paintings and life: “Men act and women appear.” Women cannot act without being constantly aware of how they appear to an outside surveyor. While I certainly wouldn’t say that men’s fitness ignores appearance, we can clearly see that this female-targeted fitness movement — specifically claiming to make one appear as a dancer without acting as one — plays into the notion that women’s bodies matter only for form, not function.

Sometimes, I’m actually surprised by how most people have such a limited view of the purpose of movement and bodies. When I tell people that I am a dance major or that I dance 25 hours a week, a common response is, “Wow, that must be really good exercise.”

. . .

Read the rest here! 

Life Engineering

What have I been up to this semester?

Why how nice of you to ask, anonymous hypothetical person (remember, I’m operating under the delusion that people care). Here’s what my life currently looks like:

Mondays/Wednesday: Ballet. Pointe. World Dance History. Intro Neuroscience Class. Graham technique class. 15 minutes between everything.

Tuesdays/Thursdays: Literature. Writing. 90 minute lunch break. Ballet. Modern. Rehearsal. Some 15 minute breaks in there too.

On Fridays I basically just dance for 6-7 hours.

Given that my classes during the week are sort of all over the place and in a row, I spend a whole lot of time running across Broadway. I also study sometimes, because, you know, college.

That said, I’m really not trying to play the “my life is more difficult/stressful than yours” game, because not only does that represent a really unhealthy set of values, it also isn’t true for me. I love my schedule, it’s completely voluntary, and I was really lucky to be able to make it fit like this. (I also sleep more than anyone I know and do actually have fun, so I don’t really have the deprived martyr thing going for me.)

Still, did take me some time to figure out how to get through the week. Pursuing multiple things seriously isn’t all about lofty things like commitment and inspiration and interdisciplinary-ness and whatever other words are cool now. Sometimes its about stupid, practical things like stuffing a sandwich into your face while you wait for a traffic light. I call it “life engineering:” all the dumb little tweaks you have to make so that the big picture of your life works.

Some of my current personal survival strategies:

    • Steal a bunch zip-lock bags of food from the dining halls in the morning. Sometimes I can just eat during lectures, or when I have classes that don’t allow eating, I just stuff food in my face while I’m running between classes.
    • Layering: All of my outfits are various things worn on top of leotards and leggings. Unfortunately, I hate wearing regular people pants, since they just feel so stiff, restrictive, and generally oppressive. Wearing them on top of leggings only intensifies that feeling. This used to mean that I would often resort to wearing ginormous sweatpants (because college) but recently I’ve discovered this type of thing:

They feel like sweats but look moderately more socially acceptable. Brilliant.

  • Body spray: This is less of a survival strategy for me and more for the survival of the people sitting next to me. But my favorite scent is vanilla.
  • Read everywhere: Dante’s Inferno isn’t gonna read itself. Plus, when waiting for a lecture to start or stretching after rehearsal, it can be nice to escape the daily rush with a mental trip to the pits of hell.
  • Use weekends: one little known fact about Saturdays and Sundays is that they include several hours before 1 PM. Turns out, these hours can be used to drastically reduce your homework load for the following week.

As a side note, I want to remind college students that you all probably got up before 7, went to consecutive classes all day, and had class on Fridays in high school. It’s really not the end of the world.

What things do you do to get through your day?