Oberlin Blogs

An update on my dancing

March 13, 2011

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

I used to talk about dance a lot on this blog, both ballet and Bharatanatyam, but then my friend, classmate, and Bharatanatyam teacher went abroad for a year and I was left to my own devices. I still danced and still performed, but I really wasn't learning much of anything since I kept doing the same dance over and over again.

Then my teacher came back last semester and we started dancing again, though it was hard coordinating our schedules. We danced for Diwali, of course, but all-in-all that was a pretty rushed affair. We were both on campus for Winter Term, though, so we started actually having a regularly scheduled dance time, which was great. We were both pretty out of shape, but it was awesome to actually feel my muscles working, which they hadn't been doing for a while.

Then the new semester started and once again our schedules got pretty hectic. After the first couple weeks, though, we set up a regular practice time again. Even better, we got space in the dance studios located in the basement of South. They have mirrors. It's fantastic. Every semester before this one, we'd just practiced in the lounge of wherever we were living--Barnard, then Asia House, then the house my teacher's living in this year. If you have a dance group, though, you can get space in South, and so we decided to do that because we'd also decided to audition for Spring Back.

Spring Back is a dance showcase run by the Dance Department. Students audition their piece in any style of dance, and then some are picked for the actual show. We'd talked about auditioning for Spring Back before, but we'd never actually done it, and since we're seniors now, we decided it was time.

Auditions were yesterday. Despite the fact that both my teacher and I have moved out of Asia House, we changed into our costumes in Asia House anyway, in one of my friends' rooms. This is actually a really intense process. It starts with my hair, which takes a lot of hairspray, and then moves on to contacts and makeup. Makeup, specifically eyeliner, takes me a really long time, because it's supposed to go on so thick and because I'm used to doing ballet stage makeup, which is a bit different. The costume also takes a lot of time, because there are so many pieces and because I never put the pieces on in the right order, a fact that amuses my teacher. Plus, the costume is actually hers and she's several inches taller than me, so a lot of pinning has to occur.

Once dressed, we put on our coats and boots and headed over to Warner--where the Dance Department is housed--looking very classy indeed. My coat looks really good on top of silk with gold accents; that's all I'm saying. When we got to Warner, we strapped bells on our ankles, filled out some paperwork, and did our dance.

The dance is about Ganesha and, understandably, talks about elephants a lot, as well as the fact that Ganesha rides around on a rat. This is one of the aspects of Bharatanatyam that I really love: the dances tend to include a lot of storytelling, which is fun. Ballets often tell a story, of course, but the form there is a bit less codified.

The audition, in my opinion, went well. I remembered to keep thinking and not zone out, even in the parts where the dance likes to trick me into thinking it's easy. I also got my one set of really tricky foot rhythms exactly right. I'm very proud of that fact.

We'll see what the dance department thought of it; results go up next week. I'll keep you posted.

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