Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Interview with Rock School Student Alston MacGill

Alston MacGill
It's amazing to me how much time flies. This fall marks seven whole years since I first moved away from home to live and dance at The Rock School in Philadelphia. I feel old. My two years there were some of the most important of my life, shaping my identity as a dancer and person. I remember the good, the bad, and the very ugly vividly. For most of the years after I graduated I had known at least a few students still there and of course my teachers. But by last year all my friends had moved on and most of the teachers (and residence directors and academic teachers) I was close with had left.

But this year lovely young dancer Alston MacGill has entered the RAPA program at The Rock School. We've never met, but I know she's a beautiful student. Read my interview below with her about adjusting to life on her own, transitioning to new training, and dancing in Philadelphia.

What made you decide to attend The Rock School's year-round program? Why Rock and not somewhere else?

I decided to attend The Rock after coming for four summer intensives. When I was here over the summer I absolutely loved it. Also, I at stayed at the Marine Club (our housing now) for a week, and thought that it was nice. My parents and I made the decision for me to come here because it offers amazing dance training and great academics!

This is your first time living away from home (besides summer intensives), right? What has that adjustment been like?

Yes, it is my first time living away from home, other than summer intensives. It has definitely been hard adjusting. This first month I’ve been super homesick! But with Nutcracker rehearsals starting and school picking up, I’ve been busier and have had less time to think about home. It’s also hard to adjust to full time roommates; I have always had my own bedroom and bathroom at home. Five weeks at a summer intensive is so different from a full year. All in all, I’ve really just been adjusting to being on my own and dealing with everything that comes up without my parents.

How has your first month of classes been? What's a typical day like in terms of schedule?

The first month of classes has been super fun, and I’m falling into the swing of things. On a typical day, we get up at 6:45 and walk over for breakfast at 7:30. At 8, I have RAPA (school) for two hours. Morning class starts at 10:30, and we have ballet and then pointe until 1. Then we have lunch in the Rock Garden Cafe and rehearsal or RAPA starts at 1:30, depending on your schedule. Another ballet class starts at 4 and ends at 6. There is also partnering on Fridays, and extra rehearsal thrown in there in the evening sometimes. Our day is packed! But of course, there is still time to hang out in the hallway when we get back to the dorms.

What do you do for fun in your downtime there? (And just out of my own curiosity: do Target Tuesdays still exist? We always had a Target trip on Tuesday nights...the highlight of the week!)

Well, there are trips around the city on Sundays to places like the zoo and museums. There is the Target trip still, but it’s now on Thursday nights. So, I guess it’s now Target Thursdays! Mostly, we sit out in the hallways and have a good time or do homework in our rooms. We also go out to Dunkin and Rite Aid, obvious necessities!

What has been the hardest part so far of attending Rock?

Nothing has been easy! I am working so hard in class everyday, and it’s so much more dancing than I’m used to. Plus, living on my own is a challenge, too. I’m really mature and can take care of myself; I was just getting homesick, especially after a tough day in the studios.

What are your goals for this year, and what are you most looking forward to?

I am really looking forward to the "Nutcracker 1776"! I am so excited because I get to be Abby (their “Clara”), and it will be such a great experience. My goal for this year is to become super strong in my technique. Everyone here is so good and it pushes me to be an even better dancer, it’s a great challenge!

Went through my own old Rock pictures...this was from October of my 2nd year (2004)...what babies we were!


Victoria said...

Wow Taylor! It's so cool that you did this interview! Alston sounds very sweet and hard-working. I hope she can manage to maintain that attitude and not lose sight of who she is inside, and how of how truly valuable that person is.


P.S. Sounds like their days are pretty much identical to what our days were like! And what a glorious picture! Hahahaaa, we DO look like babies. Oh fake Nutcracker...

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Taylor said...

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