This week, we asked four of our undergraduate Physical Theatre and Dance students to share two “academic jewels” they’ve gained during their studies here, and how they’d like to share these treasured lessons with people back at home. Read on to hear more from Lydia, Carly, Rafi, and Rhyver!
Lydia Utter: Physical Theatre (Boston University, MA)
When I think of a “jewel”, I think of a small, polished nugget of beauty. Something shiny and unusual that you can bring out to impress people. I wouldn’t say that anything I’ve learned this semester comes close to a jewel. There’s nothing polished in art or the process of understanding what it means to be a young artist, and that’s what is happening to me this semester. The best things that I will be bringing back to the States are big, rough, confusing clumps of knowledge that I will spend decades understanding. Things whose true meanings I may never unlock.
At BU they tell us, “Leap and the net will appear.” They say, “Risk, fail, risk again.” These are great things to tell an artist, but if you don’t give that artist any opportunity to fail, she will never understand them. I have been given space to fail this semester, and it feels amazing. While making masks, where too much time wasted or the incorrect use of a tool could potentially ruin the entire mask, I felt the real possibility of failing. The knowledge that failure was not only possible, but very probable with my ADD brain drove me to pay more attention to my little bone hammer than I have ever paid to anything in my life. And I ended up making a mask, but I feel like I raised a child from a fetus to a functioning adult over the course of a week.
Diving into Commedia headfirst is the greatest leap I’ve ever taken, and I’m happy to say that my “net” appeared. There’s nothing scarier than squeezing yourself into a completely new and foreign art form, especially one with such an intense history and set of rules as Commedia. Improv has never been my strong suit- I can be funny in my everyday life, but once people are looking at me and expecting it, I blank and my mind holds nothing but three lines of Britney Spears’ hit song Toxic. But in Commedia there’s a net already in place, from hundreds of years ago, of prefabricated characters and storylines that give structure to the improvisation. This makes me feel safe as I take my risk and pull sentences out of my ass.
So, all in all, my two jewels are two things I already knew- make the jump, and leave space for failure. They’re confusing, and contradictory, but I understand them a little more now, and I would want others to feel the same way.
Carly Haig: Dance (Goucher College, MD)
It’s crazy that my journey at this magical place is already more than half way through. Although this fact kind of makes me want to cry a little because I want to live here forever and ever, in reflecting upon my time thus far, I realize how much I’ve already learned and how much I’ve changed. Out of all the gems I’ve locked away in my memory bank so far, here are too that I’ve found to be the most valuable…
1. “Leave Brian in the garden”
This phrase comes from the mouth of our one of a kind Performance teacher Giorgio Rossi. This so called “Brian” is a name Giorgio assigned to our brain, basically telling us not to think and just let things happen. This image enables more freedom in my dancing. By giving “Brian” a little vacation in the garden, I am able to discover more about my body and what it can do and am able to more easily expand my artistic expression.
2. Dancing can actually teach you a lot about yourself.
I’ve been realizing this in all my classes, but most specifically in Tarantella. We use movements to explore emotions. This is not just, dance like you’re sad or dance like you’re happy, but instead makes us pull from actual experiences in our lives and makes us use these experiences to drive our movement. In doing this, I’ve been forced to really explore my emotions and think about experiences I’ve had and how they have altered who I am as a person. It’s incredible to me that dance can be a tool to make these discoveries happen, and though I knew dance was powerful, I never really knew how truly transformative it could be.
Rafi Schneider: Physical Theatre (Macalaster College, MN)
Academic jewels I have NOT learned this semester include:
Conditioning is optional and unnecessary.
The last half hour of the lunch break, roughly no time at all before class, is an appropriate time to decide to take a fifteen minute break from Italian homework.
Dory is an unforgiving eldritch creature who will eat you if you fail, feet first.
Debates in Philosophy class can and should be settled with bare-knuckled boxing matches.
Monica has the capacity to forget things.
And two I did learn:
Remember to write things down.
Rhyver White: Physical Theatre (Boston University, MA)
Words from the wise:
-I’m not sure how your foreign language course works, but we only speak in Italian, in Italian class (go figure) so friends, don’t panic, just be patient with yourself, you will begin to understand over time!
-Movement and Conditioning will make you breathe incredibly hard and sweat a ton. Don’t feel self-conscious, everyone else is sweaty and gross too and you will have to do group work. Don’t let your present condition get in the way of your exploration and work!
Xoxo, Gossip Girl
P.S. Here’s a picture of me and my fellow witches…not all witches live in Salem…HIDE YOUR CHILDREN!