As I write this, I am sitting in a makeshift (highly chaotic) dressing room, the scent of hairspray and nostalgia wafting by. I can’t help but remember the fourteen years when my life revolved around nights just like these, in rooms just like this. I never thought Oberlin would bring me back to those memories, but here I am. So far, this semester has presented me with a lot of opportunities and possibilities I might not have ever considered or expected, but are exactly what I needed nonetheless.
I started dancing when I was just two years old--and I loved it. I loved the tulle and the tap shoes and everything in between. As I got older, I started going to competitions, and the art I had so loved and cherished was transformed into a source of resentment and bitterness. At 16, I finally relinquished my passion for dance once and for all (or so I thought).
Fast forward to this year. On a whim, I decided to audition for a student tap group on campus called VIBE tap. To my astonishment, I got in! I was cautiously excited--I hadn’t been a part of any kind of dance group for a while, and my relationship with this form of art has always been and likely always will be incredibly complicated. That, and I had truly no idea what to expect. But I’ve missed tap so much over the years, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try something new.
Our first meeting set a perfect tone for the year: the atmosphere was welcoming and friendly, something I’ve come to know VIBE for. This semester, we’ve been working on a dance to “Party Rock Anthem,” which has been an absolute blast. VIBE continues to be an amazingly positive experience for me and a great way to meet people. It really is just a safe space to be with a group of people who love to dance and want to enjoy doing it together. It’s such a lovely addition to my week, and a fun way to spend every Saturday morning.
It’s also been healing in a way I hadn’t anticipated to be a part of a dance community that is genuine and free of pressure. My relationship to performance art is slowly changing and growing into something far stronger and far healthier than it ever was. I’m engaging with dance in new ways: learning more about the origins, history, and culture of the art form. This in particular is just quintessential Oberlin to me--the excitement to share knowledge on topics outside of conventional academia as well as within it, and the concerted effort to acknowledge historical truth and the people that contributed to it.
I’m excited to get more involved, and to start taking classes for the first time in two years. Dance is finally fun again! Oberlin pushes you in a lot of ways. In this case, it offered me a path to return to an art form I love--which, after so many years of bad experience, was a scary idea. But here, it’s not so scary. Instead it’s enjoyable. Tonight, I will put a ridiculous amount of glitter on my face. And then I will get to perform with my fellow dancers and friends, and simply enjoy it.
There are plenty of dance groups on campus and opportunities to start learning--no prior experience needed! I know a third-year who came here with absolutely no experience until trying it out recently, and discovering that they love dance. It’s never too late to start. There are multiple ExCos (classes taught by students), department classes and productions, and various student-run organizations.
Considering it is 5 minutes to curtain and I should definitely be backstage already, I’ll sign off with this advice: If any of this interests you, pursue it! It’s yet another facet of the Oberlin community that is open to all and definitely worth getting involved in.
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Posted by: katie smith on December 19, 2022 12:30 AM
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