Dunce cap vs. graduation cap- the choice

I’ve made my decision; it is not the right time for grad school.

I want that MA eventually, but I don’t feel that it is necessary for the work that I want to engage in now. I still feel that I have a lot to learn and to accomplish as a teacher, and a lot of choreography projects that I would like to bring to fruition before I skip town. I don’t feel that I’ve done everything that I’m meant to do here in St. Louis yet and I am excited about the way things are shaping up for me. I’m also really hoping to dance with a company again next season, but more on that another time.

photo via DesignSponge

Those are the main reasons I’ve decided to postpone further study, but also, finances and living conditions come into play. I love New York, but living there is tough unless you marry a trust fund baby have zero living standards have a lot of money. I’m enjoying looking at apartments here where I can live by  myself. Scratch that-with the only consistent roommate I’ve had since 2008- my self-hatred my cat Avery. Sometimes she is the only other living thing I can stand to have around me. I mean that as no disrespect for any person, just a marker of what an intensely private and isolative person I can be, despite having a public blog. And there’s no way I could afford to live alone in the city.

Part of the ‘Women in Bedrooms’ series from artist Oriana Lewton-Leopold

When I was first thinking about Grad School, and ONLY thinking of NYU, I remember talking to my Dad and telling him the various reasons why I thought this was the one school, the one program I wanted. Reasons included: the prestige of the name, the program itself, and mostly the location- New York is always a buzz with  new ideas and young professionals and artists and support for the arts and probably more jobs and opportunities for people interested in working in the arts. I felt as though there was no way I would be able to find the kind of work I wanted in a city like St. Louis– an admittedly predominantly sports enthusiast, followed by restaurant town.

Here’s something I just learned that helped me feel comfortable with my decision;

Over the course of the last few months, I think I’ve mentioned several shows that I’ve gone to see on the Washington University Campus as part of the Edison Ovations series. Some of these include: Ballet Hispanico, Brian Brooks Moving Company, and ‘The Intergalactic Nemesis’a live radio-show style performance with projected comic illustrations. There were amazing performers coming in from New York, Austin, Australia,- all organized by Director of the Series, Charlie Robin. Mr. Robin is a professor of Arts Management at WashU (something sort of similar to what I was hoping to study in the Arts Politics program) and is currently finishing his own masters at Webster University. That means that this pretty incredible guy managed to get THAT pretty incredible job in this city without the degree first, and is getting one without the New York real estate hassle. Sounds pretty smart to me!

I remember my Dad being very supportive of my wish to apply to NYU- he understood what that name, that degree could mean. He got his masters from Syracuse University, and I distinctly remember him saying that just having the piece of paper with that stamp of approval opened a lot of doors. I think the trouble is that I’m for one- not ready to open those kind of doors (to direct a program) and that’s one expensive piece of paper. I think I have more hands-on work that I need to do to validate the first expensive certificate- a teaching degree- that I already managed to put in my pocket.

When I was 13 and a student at Alexandra School of Ballet, we did a ballet called ‘Origami’ which uses the Saint Saens ‘Carnival of the Animals’ score. THe ballet takes place in a classroom where the lesson of the day is folding origami, and one student- the daydreamer– shows up late and forgets how to do anything, resulting in the other students making fun of her as they go out to recess ad she is sent to the corner wearing a giant dunce cap. Alone in the classroom, the origami comes to life and the daydreamer is met with birds, fish, rabbits, a rooster, a donkey, and finally, a swan. The daydreamer folds a piece of paper as the swan dances unseen around her, like some sort of feathery guiding spirit, helping her learn the art of origami. Surprise surprise- I was the dunce-cap wearing daydreamer. (fellow alums, help me out, who was the swan in 2000? Was it Meghan Wilson? I can’t recall)

Consuelo, Me, Natalia (I think that’s the middle girl’s name) and Kirstie- I love her expression almost as much as I love the leg warmers I’m using for socks

I kind of feel like I’ve been that daydreamer in the dunce cap for a long time mostly because I already have this one degree- my bachelor’s from Butler- and haven’t really been using the teaching side of it until recently. I was only interested in being a dancer at first. Now that I feel a calling to teach, I want to make sure that I’m really good at it and I think that comes from experience, not a piece of paper. So for now, it’s time to take what I already have and turn it in to something. I’m taking off the dunce cap, but not trading it in for a graduation cap yet. I’m going to let my ‘spiritual inner-swan’ tell me when it’s time.

5 thoughts on “Dunce cap vs. graduation cap- the choice

  1. I am so glad that you enjoy being in St. Louis (and it’s a lot closer to visit!). I feel like mid-sized cities are really embracing the arts and (God bless them) the hipsters are helping with this! (At least in Cincinnati) Best of luck and I really hope that I can come see something you’ve choreographed soon!

  2. Glad you are embracing your inner teacher! I expect big things! Also, visits and more pictures of Avery. Proud of you for making this decision – and for being incredibly thoughtful about it.

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