Mon. May 16th, 2022

As we progress through college, there are bound to be unforgettable and beneficial experiences that we will remember throughout the rest of our lives. Some of these may include joining a Greek organization, meeting your best friends and discovering yourself and what you are truly passionate about. For me, the previously listed experiences have all been beneficial in helping me grow as a person and are moments I will never forget. However, what if I also told you that another one of my most unforgettable experiences here at West Chester University thus far has been taking a ballet class to fulfill my art requirement? Yes, it sounds crazy but it is true; deciding to take DAN 134 Ballet 1 with Jerzy Golek to fulfill my art requirement has been one of the best decisions I have ever made when it comes to my academic career.

When I was scheduling my classes for this semester and saw that I still had my art prerequisite left to complete I was not very excited. Not being the most artistic person, I knew painting, drawing and ceramics classes were hands down out of the question for me. I also knew I wouldn’t have the time or energy to stress about an art class when I had accounting, economics and calculus work on my plate. Because of this, I took the three-hour theatre class and art history lectures out of my pool of options, therefore leaving me with dance classes as the only thing left to choose. I had been a competitive gymnast for over a decade but was still anxious at the thought of dancing in front of an entire class. However, I decided to give it a go and a month later, I couldn’t be happier.

DAN 134 Ballet 1 has been so beneficial to me in a variety of ways. For starters, it is amazing to have a class that doesn’t involve note and test taking. Walking into the studio and knowing that I don’t have to sit in a classroom and listen to a teacher talk for an hour gives me a sigh of relief. As we begin to stretch and focus on the different movements, I feel the stress of my previous classes drift away and forget about my other responsibilities. It is a great distraction from reality.

Another reason why I am so grateful to have taken DAN 134 Ballet 1 is that it has re-exposed me to the sport I miss and love. Gymnastics is very hard on the body and due to serious injuries, I was unable to participate at the college level; however, there are many similarities between ballet and gymnastics, and when I am in class, a part of me feels as though I am back on the spring floor dancing and flipping around. This class satisfies the itch I have to do gymnastics again. I have been able to regain my flexibility and was surprised to find that I could still perform turns and leaps. It is also satisfying to work out at a similar pace and level of difficulty that I once had. Many days I have left the class feeling tired and sore, which is not always a bad thing.

Lastly, I am so pleased with my decision to take Ballet 1 because although I have previous knowledge with some elements, I still manage to learn something new every class. Whether it be a position, movement or name, I always walk out knowing something I had not known an hour before. There are a few ballerinas in the class that have been practicing dance for 15 years and I often find myself trying to mimic their poise. I was always powerful in my gymnastics, so it is pleasing to finally learn how to be more graceful and dainty with my movements instead of so sharp and stiff. Due to this class I have also learnt to be more confident in myself. I have often found the courage to move to the front of the room and dance aside the experts, but I have also learnt to be okay with not always being correct. Many of the students in the class have little to no experience with dance, therefore there is a sense of community when we all look silly while trying something new.

All in all, as silly as it may sound, taking DAN 134 Ballet 1 has been one of the best decisions I have made since coming to West Chester; I hope that now, after reading this, it doesn’t sound as crazy that a prerequisite class that doesn’t have anything to do with my major could make such an impact. I have learnt new things and made new friends while also rediscovering a part of myself I thought I had left behind. My hope is that when thinking about prerequisite classes, especially those in the art field, that people don’t pout and dread them, but rather go out of their comfort zone and experience the benefits of taking DAN 134 Ballet 1 with instructor Golek.

Alyssa Palumbo is a student at West Chester University. She can be reached at AP870664@wcupa.edu.

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