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Student Blog: Code of Behavior

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This summer will not be like the last: no shaming myself, forcing myself to be creative, or learning to dread my practice.

Student Blog: Code of Behavior
This was taken on my first night back at school.
I was put in an apartment for fall semester, and
had no clue what this strange year would
look like.

Nowhere near as dramatic as last year's exit, my semester came to an end last week. With Broadway starting to breathe again and our vaccinated freedoms increasing, the cloud that covered all of my quarantined summer is starting to roll out. Though my traditional New York City summer trip is still on hold, my family has a spectacular road trip to replace it. The world is starting to look alive again, and the industry I love so much is growing again- with new, necessary, improvements being called for. This time last year I was fearing for my graduating peers, my friends in the city, and my peers still at school. It was an uphill charge to keep training for a career that stopped existing within hours. Broadway shut down the night I was supposed to fly out for a long weekend to see some opening shows. My peers couldn't complete our 2019-2020 season. I did a year of shows with masks and social distancing, with our only line of audience connection being through a camera. Though, we wouldn't have traded our situation because at least we were still performing. My sophomore year of college has been wildly different than any experiences I dreamt of as a kid, but my peers and I somehow got through it all.

During the lockdown, there were points that doing anything- especially things that typically fill me with joy- became a chore to do. I formed a habit where I unhappily did yoga or an abbreviated bar just because I figured I should get up and move. Playing my ukulele, singing, or doing essentially anything related to training, didn't spark excitement as much as it weighed me down. I struggled to not slip away from all the progress I had made in my freshman year studies, and I still feel like a portion of my sophomore year was dedicated to regaining what I lost. My spring semester also carried straight through, with no spring break, to prevent spread of the virus as much as possible. Though the lack of a break did discourage students from traveling, it also spiked the cases on burnout on campus. Exhaustion, stress, lack of motivation characterized every student you walked past. Grinding for all those months without enough time to sufficiently rest left us all trudging along, and using free time to train on our own beat us down. Honestly, it is both relieving and stressful to walk away from school this year. I appreciate the much-needed break, but I am afraid of losing my drive again.

Student Blog: Code of Behavior
My school's productions were the
highlights of my year. I am so grateful
that my school found a way to continue
to study and perform safely.

I am trying to approach this summer differently. I spent this past year stretching myself, and bringing myself to try to achieve more each day than I did the last. Therefore, I feel that my time out of school must be a bridge to my next year. My professor threw a word around often in class that didn't mean much to me until I started to mentally plan how I would use my time during this break. He kept telling us that our work is a discipline and that we simply must commit ourselves to the practice. He reminded us to not let our new skills atrophy and to build the discipline and follow a routine. I think about all the to-do lists I wrote, the schedules I planned, and the regiments I began to piece together but never actually did during the pandemic. Sure, this may have been the most prolonged, chaotic experience of my life so far and the stress of that influenced my behavior. But, I can't help but question why I would be able to establish enough discipline to keep working this summer, fresh off my most draining semester yet, when I couldn't do it during a time where there was nothing else to do.

Yes, training to be a stage performer when the only thing on stage is a ghost light and some dust seems redundant, so I'll cut myself some slack there. Now, Broadway is one day closer, and I'm halfway through my time at college. Soon I depend on the discipline to self-train because I'll be out working and not getting A's for completing my audition project. When my schooling ends, the only way I will continue to grow is if I work for myself. I can't strive for my 4.0, or practice to make sure I don't fail an assignment. There will no longer be a grade incentive for showing up to every ballet class and showing improvement. My passion for this art form is more than enough to keep me working. However, I do think it is very important to recognize that ability does not reach a height and maintain itself. Skill comes from hard work. Even if I leave my senior year as the best performer I have ever been, it doesn't mean that I will still be that performer the next year without work.

Student Blog: Code of Behavior
This is a still from my final jury of Sophomore year.
My jury song was "How Did I End Up Here?"
from Romance, Romance.

I don't want to list out all the dance YouTube videos I need to work through, or my goals for my vocal health and progression, or even the list of books I want to read before I go back to school. I don't want to tell the world a ten-step plan to finishing the summer fit and more seasoned than I entered it as. I do want to continue to advance the skills I developed this year, but that can be done with expectations or a goal sheet. I purchased a journal that I am going to fill with my rumbling thoughts and I'll find sanctuary in the things and people I love. I am going to enjoy the most beautiful landscapes and the freshest air on my road trip and I won't shame myself for not practicing every moment of that. I'll allow myself the freedom to grow in my own way, and I'll build my discipline in this time. This summer will not be like the last: no shaming myself, forcing myself to be creative, or learning to dread my practice. I will not list specific achievements I wish to see out of myself by next august, but I will promise to myself to start living by a code of behavior.


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