As we grow and adapt with the world around us, our construction of what we deem “comfortable” changes. Our once mischievous, death-defying selves build sensible walls to protect ourselves from unfamiliar territory. After years of assembly, there comes a time when we have to break through the walls, no matter how high and how thick they’ve been built, in order to achieve our full potential.
There is no better way to experience personal development than through a creative medium. As a lifelong dancer, performer and arts enthusiast I may be partially biased in this opinion, but since art is fueled by emotion and vulnerability, it seems there must be some fact behind this belief. When we bear our stories, our feelings, our souls for everyone to witness, we simultaneously break down the walls we worked so hard to build.
That is when the real magic happens.
Instead of spending spring break laying on a beach sipping something pink and umbrella-decorated, I devoted three long days to the American College Dance Association’s regional conference at SUNY Brockport. Dancers from colleges in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey gathered together to perform, watch, and learn about dance. Not only did I have to opportunity to learn from experienced teachers and choreographers, but I was completely submerged in a community of dancers who all shared the same passion.
While Heather Roffe, assistant professor in the Nazareth theatre and dance department, is working to expand the parameters of what dance at Naz looks like, the department does not offer the variety and level of educational value conferences like ACDA have to offer. The teachers try their hardest to give serious students what they need, but there isn’t much room for those “breakthrough” moments. This can be attributed to the environment students are creating in. Like with any creative medium, there must be mutual understanding of what is expected of dancers and makers. Without 100 percent commitment from all participants, the chance for real development is lost.
At an event like ACDA, where the classes are full of passionate dancers, it’s hard not to allow yourself to be pushed to your limit. Teachers aren’t interested in what you are comfortable with, or what you’ve done in the past. They simply care about what you can give in the moment. This is where we should all want to be, an environment rich with drive and innovation, surrounded by people who inspire us to be something or do something more than we originally thought we could do.
I encourage all students to seek experiences similar to this within their own fields. Breaking boundaries is only the first step in personal development. Complete submersions like this offer time for experimentation, education, and exploration of yourself and who you can become. This, along with making valuable connections with professionals already in the field is why we take the leap, despite how scary it may seem.
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