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Student Blog: 'Back to School' From The Mount to The Joyce

Student Blog: 'Back to School' From The Mount to The Joyce

"The Marymount community is back to the closest version of the “normal” we all once knew so well."

The first few weeks of the semester have been thrilling, round-the-clock, and steadfast. Every day is filled with determination to see the light at the end of the tunnel (aka College Graduation).

Student Blog: 'Back to School' From The Mount to The Joyce
Last-first day of school at MMC with Erin Barnes

As a full-time student at Marymount Manhattan College pursuing a BFA Dance Choreography Undergraduate degree, the days bleed into one another. It feels exhausting, ephemeral, and exhilarating simultaneously. I am about to conclude my third and final year at this institution with a grateful heart, ready to take on the world. After graduating high school and starting college in 2020 during peak periods of uncertainty from the global Covid-19 Pandemic, resilience, and perseverance keep me going when motivation is low. Rewinding to three years ago, taking 16 credit hours of coursework on zoom (ballet and modern technique classes from inside my dorm room during times of quarantine), students were incapable of shaping their college experience to what they had dreamed of in the city that never sleeps. In the spring of 2023, the Marymount community is back to the closest version of the "normal" we all once knew so well. Masks are no longer required in class or on stage. Dancers can soar through the space again, jumping high off of sprung, marley floors in the rehearsal studios. Physical contact, lifting, and partner improvisation have been reintroduced into creative processes as part of the curriculum.

Ballet IV, Tap II, Improvisation, History of Graphic Design & Illustration, Viewpoints, Production, and an Independent Study are the seven courses in which I am enrolled. Ballet Technique is my elective course, running five days per week for an hour and 20 minutes for each class. Tap, Improvisation, and Viewpoints are other movement classes required for my major as a choreography concentration. For my independent study, I am investigating how space influences choreography. I declared the topic of investigation before the first day of my viewpoints class, but the course content is connected. Both courses feed into one another which is satisfying for a lover of learning. History of Graphic Design & Illustration is my final Advanced Interdisciplinary Perspective course required for graduation. Construction of the seventh and eighth floors at the school's main campus was complete for classes to begin on September 6th, 2021. "Students have additional space and state-of-the-art equipment to think critically and act creatively. The center was made possible by a $25 million gift from The Carson Family Charitable Trust" (Judith Mara Carson Center for Visual Arts). My graphic design course lives on the seventh floor with fresh energy to cultivating success in students of any discipline or field of production.

Student Blog: 'Back to School' From The Mount to The Joyce
"Jazz Man", choreographed by Mary Ann Lamb, at The Joyce Theatre for Benefit Concert "Destiny Rising" (NYCDA Foundation). Photo credit: Chris Coates Photos

My first day back to school on January 30, 2023, was not limited to getting back to the ballet barre and seeing peers after a long winter break; we hit the ground running (might I say dancing). Joe Lanteri from the NYCDA Foundation invited the "Jazz Man" cast, choreographed by Mary Ann Lamb with associate Marissa Palley, to perform in the fundraising program "Destiny Rising" at the famed concert dance venue, The Joyce Theatre. The 15-person all-female-identifying cast had to be ready to take the stage after reuniting since the conclusion of the fall semester (when the piece debuted) the night before the performance. A high of adrenaline, the suspense of disbelief, and pure magic unfolded on stage as we closed the show and took a final bow with all the performers from the evening. Visit "Jazz Man" at The Joyce to read more and check out NYCDAF's video recap of "Destiny Rising" 2023.

With this powerful momentum of performance, day two only accelerated with opportunity. The resonance of adrenaline quickly translated into willpower to show up to four separate auditions with professional dancer/choreographers Caleb Teicher, Rodney Hamilton, Zoey Anderson (Parsons Dance Company), and Cameron McKinney over the next week of classes. I love auditioning. The communal energy deployment in the room brings out great desire in everyone, an addicting supplement for personal growth as a dancer and human. Final casting was released halfway through week two of the semester. I am honored to share I will be performing Parson's Repertoire in May at the Theresa Lang Theatre and original work by senior choreography concentration, Alicia Steeves, in April.

Student Blog: 'Back to School' From The Mount to The Joyce
BFA Dance Major Class of 2023 in The Great Hall after final production auditions (from left to right starting at the bottom: Melissa Barnhizer, Monet Jones, Lauren Aureus, Pilar Mellon-Reyes, "Bella" Mittenthal, Peyton Havens, Alexa Ratini, Aimee Graham, Alicia Steeves, "Meena" Jay, Kirsten Kauffman, Allison Feller, Lacey Greathouse, Sydney Worthy, Erin Barnes, Heather Kroeshe, Nick Camarero, Carlie Wenzel, Rebekka Ryan, and Danielle Strader [Mari Witwer, Hailey Cooke, and Sophia Aste not pictured])

Back to school also means back to curating my schedule for part-time work, extra training for attention to career goals, and self-care. Working at Steps on Broadway, I am checking-in dancers at the front desk, selling merchandise in the shop, being a teacher's assistant for 3 & 5 five-year-old energy dance classes, and dancing my heart out next to current working professionals in extra drop-in classes. While finding balance is hard to achieve and even more challenging to maintain, keep striving. The time is now. Cheers to all who are brave in pushing onward through their journey of life.

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From This Author - Student Blogger: Erin Barnes

Student Blog: 'Back to School' From The Mount to The JoyceStudent Blog: 'Back to School' From The Mount to The Joyce
February 28, 2023

From the Dance Department assembly in The Great Hall of Marymount Manhattan College to the intimate stage of The Joyce Theatre, my last “first day” of the semester will go down in history.