As some may know, I recently was asked to take over the studio newsletter for my old school, Ballet Academy East. I'm basically a one-woman team putting together an 8 page newsletter about studio events since the last issue came out in early 2006. It's quite a bit of work, but it's stuff I enjoy doing and for a place I spent 2 years of my life.
Today I interviewed a friend of mine, which will go in the newsletter in the alumni section. She graduated with me from BAE last year and currently dances at Vassar college.
Taylor: Are you a dance major at Vassar?
Amanda: No, they don’t have a major in dance. I do get academic credit for dance classes and for working with the dance company though.
Taylor: What is your schedule like?
Amanda: I have ballet 3 times a week, which is definitely different. And I’m going to try to take a Grahm class this semester. Most of my time is spent in rehearsals 5 days a week.
Taylor: Do you get to perform a lot?
Amanda: We’ve had a few performances. In October we had our first showing, which was mostly for works in process. Then in November we had our final showing that included all of the work choreographed by students and professors. In March we’ll have our big show with costumes and everything.
Taylor: Do they have a theater right there on campus?
Amanda: They just recently renovated the dance building and they have a theater. It’s a big stage, but not really the biggest audience. It’s really nice, though, and you don’t have to go far to get to performances.
Taylor: How are the teachers?
Amanda: They’re really different. There’s only 1 ballet teacher and she’s been there for years. It took a while to get used to having only 1 teacher. I thought I might go insane having only 1 for all 4 years.
Taylor: Do you have to audition to get into the classes?
Amanda: You audition for classes but you do to get into the company. They had auditions right around when we started classes and I was really nervous. There are about 25 girls in 10 boys, but none of the boys are very balletic. It’s mostly modern.
Taylor: How has BAE prepared you for your experiences there?
Amanda: The ballet at BAE teaches you discipline and how to accept corrections and correct yourself. They expect you to act a certain way and that trained me how to act at Vassar. We have bigger classes there, so we don’t get as much attention.
Taylor: What do you miss most about BAE?
Amanda: I miss the teachers a lot. They are all so different, and I grew up at BAE so the atmosphere in class is like family. I also miss the high level of the classes. There aren’t as many serious dancers at Vassar and we don’t do as much pointe.
Taylor: What do you do to keep your technique up?
Amanda: I try to keep pushing myself as hard as I can. Even if the classes aren’t that challenging I sometimes add beats or something to make it harder. It’s also good to go back to a lower level sometimes to analyze yourself.
Taylor: How has the college experience been outside of ballet?
Amanda: It’s really different, and it took a while to get used to it, but I love it now. It’s such a change. You’re always with this huge student body and the academics are harder. But dancing constantly makes it familiar and I don’t get too bored.
Taylor: Was it hard to set up your schedule with all that?
Amanda: I’m insanely organized and over compulsive when it comes to that. I made lots of lists and managed to work around everything.
Taylor: Do you have any advice for future BAE graduates who are choosing between companies or college?
Amanda: You need to think about what you really want to do in the future and think honestly about where you’ll be happy. For me, I thought that college was the best option. It’s important to be organized in the college process to make it less stressful, even when you have lots of BAE rehearsals going on!
Taylor: Anything else you want to add?
Amanda: I miss BAE a lot and everyone who’s still there should appreciate the time they have there, because once you’re gone you really miss it.