To write or not to write…

“I want to read your blog!”

6 little words that lifted my spirits and the confidence in my own writing out of a somewhat dismal abyss.  I have a blog, sure, but the way I see it, if no one knows about it then there is no one to judge it, no one to think I’m copping out, overly emotional or just a huge suck up.  It stays hidden in within the walls of the vast internet, behind a simple URL and codename.  In a way, it can hide who I am as a writer and even who I am as a person.

But then… what is the point?  What good is good writing, or even terrible writing, if there is no one to read it, critique it and if you’re lucky, compliment it and urge you to write more because they want to read what you have to say?

A good friend of mine, and a fellow (very talented) writer, told me months ago that I should start my own blog.  “Yeah, you’re right…” was what I said to her every time it came up.  What I didn’t want to tell her was how scared I was to have everyone: my peers, my professors, friends, parents…everyone read something that was all about my life.  I didn’t want to tell her that I didn’t have much confidence in myself to publish something worth reading.  Her response, “Marie, if it’s important to you, that’s all that matters…”

Which got me thinking… maybe she’s right.  Okay, who am I kidding?  I know she is.

So here it is, world.  I’m letting it all go and putting my writing out there for all to read.  For those of you who read what I have to say and like it, thank you.  And if you don’t, that’s okay too.  At least I’m giving this whole writing thing a shot.  That’s what’s important… and that’s all that matters to me.

Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 10:10 pm  Comments (2)  

Lessons from the unexpected..

Although this is primarily a blog dedicated to my independent study, I feel it necessary to take a step back from the reading and preparations to witness performances and take a deeper look into how my own dance experiences will forever shape the paths I choose in life.

Last night was a particularly rough dance team practice.  With our nationals competition a mere month and a half away, my team is anxiously and excitedly drilling, training and perfecting our routine with one goal in mind: to make finals.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this is something that the Assumption College Dance Team has never done before in its many years (a decade or so) of existence.  Although the team changes dramatically each year, losing older members and gaining new ones, the heart of the team belongs to the dance… and to one another.

My team is not only a competitive unit, but also (if I may be cheesy for a moment) a family.  My family.  13 girls, 1 persistent coach and a common dream.  We push, challenge, sometimes even fight each other.  But one thing will always be our foundation – the love we have for each other.

I know I talk about love a lot.  The love of dance, for writing, to move someone else’s life through a carefully choreographed routine or well-written story.  Nevertheless, I find that through my team, the love I have for others who share my passion is the glue that holds the rest together.  There would be no routine, no story if not for the people in our lives that we share it with.

As captain of the team, it’s probably normal for myself and our coach, Steven, to butt heads sometimes.  More often than not, that is exactly what happens.  Our opinions differ, sometimes resulting in an (almost) full-fledged argument about what is best for the team.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t.  It’s like having an older brother.  No, we don’t always get along, but I wouldn’t trade him for anyone else.  My team needs him.  I need him, although I probably won’t admit it anytime soon to save face and avoid loving ridicule for the rest of the year.  I have found in the two years that I have known him that as much as I love to complain about how hard Steven is on us, he has been one of the best teachers I have ever had.  No just in dance, but in the lessons of my life.  He is part of the reason why I get to dance the way I do, why I get to compete in Florida with the girls on my team and why I hold the position on the National Dance Alliance Staff.  Sure, we don’t always agree and it’s all his fault that I have painful bruises on my knees and shoulder making it look like someone beat me with a baseball bat, but I honestly don’t think I will ever be thankful enough for what he has done for my team, for what he has done for me.

So I suppose that is enough sappy love talk for one blog post, although I’m sure I will be crying hysterically when I have to say goodbye to the family I have found here.  Until then, I’ll cherish them and the gift we get to share.  Until then, I’ll deal with the bruises.

Published in: on February 27, 2010 at 12:45 am  Leave a Comment  

To write LOVE on her… blog

It is probably obvious from my first blog entry that I love to dance.  Well, now I’ll talk about something that hasn’t always shared the same amount of room in my heart but is now a very close second — my love for writing.

Growing up, spelling and grammar came naturally to me.  I won spelling bees, aced sentence analyses, and breezed through “Daily Oral Language” lessons.  In high school, I quickly moved up through the honors system and read my way through AP English, emphasis on the writing I wrote about The Great Gatsby.  Although there was a student-run newspaper in high school, I had no interest in writing for it.  It wasn’t my lack of skill but more of a laziness for having to write extra papers.  Why spend my time doing more homework, I thought.

Despite my top grades in high school English, I was forced to take the required English Literature and English Composition courses when I entered college.  Once again, I was no pleased.  We would study short stories and learn grammatical structures that I had been familiar with since fifth grade.  I was appalled to find out that students in my English courses didn’t know the difference between a common and proper noun… at 18 and 19 years old!  Nevertheless, I eased my way through both courses and looked forward to taking more advanced English classes in the following years.  By the end of my freshman year, I had already decided on a major that would determine the rest of my coursework at Assumption and my career path in life: English with a concentration in Writing & Mass Communications.  Go figure.

As a freshman, I knew that Assumption had its own student-run newspaper.  However, it wasn’t until my second semester that I decided to write for it.  I did a brief feature piece on Casey Jo Mosca, the sophomore that landed the lead in the Spring musical that I was also in.  When the issue came out, I was excited to see my writing in print and decided that I would become more involved with the paper the next year.

Sophomore year came and went with more English classes (these much more difficult than the previous general education classes) and a few more articles written for the Provoc.  I was still avoiding big news stories and stuck to what I knew I was good at – Features and Arts & Entertainment.  Still  an underclassman, I was nervous to see how some of the juniors and seniors, especially the editors, would react to my work, so I played it safe, determined to step it up for my junior year.

And that is exactly what I did.  During my junior year, I attended as many Provoc meetings as I could and began to pick out more investigative pieces.  As the year wore on, the news stories I chose began to make the front page more often, something I had no problem being ecstatic about.  By the middle of the second semester, I decided to apply to be one of the editors of the Provoc for the next year.  I submitted my application and waited for a decision to be made.

A few weeks later, I received a letter in my campus mailbox congratulating me for my position as the Online Editor for the next year.  Although it was not my first editor position (I originally hoped for Feature Editor), I accepted it nonetheless, trusting the Editor-in-Chief’s decision.  And thank goodness I did.  As junior year ended and senior year loomed, I began to get anxious about how busy I would be during the fall semester.  I had already accepted a Captain position on the dance team and was now Online Editor as well.  Add that to a full courseload and an internship and seminar capstone class, I wasn’t sure how I would be able to handle everything at once.

Fortunately, Online Editor was the perfect fit for me and my somewhat horrendous schedule.  Since I am solely responsible for the online content of the website and not for formatting printed pages, it opened up time for me to perform my duties as dance team captain without much conflict.  I was still available on deadline nights and edited the stories along with the other editors.  Although there are nights when the Provoc office holds us captive for long hours, the memories I have made and the friendships and bonds that have formed is something that I will take away from this experience- plus the opportunities to pick whatever stories I like for the Provoc editions, including a special column I wrote earlier in the year.

I now have the confidence, through my English courses and newspaper experience, to choose from a multitude of topics, no matter what their genre and write to my fullest ability.  I have put together a portfolio in print that will be helpful when applying for media jobs in the future.  Overall, I hope to inspire people with my writing and allow them to take something away from the words I have written, such as this blog.

I am more thankful for my talents now and intend to use them as much as I can for not only this blog and the newspaper, but for my future as well.

Want to see how my writing has developed?  Check out the “Portfolio” section of my blog coming soon!

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hello world!

My favorite type of introduction is short and sweet, so I think that’s how this blog should start.  My name is Marie and I am currently a senior at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.  I have created “Dance And Write” as part of my specially designed Independent Study in my last semester of coursework and the final touch of my Performing Arts minor.

Although it has taken me a little while to get into this actual blogging process, the work I have been doing for this study has not fallen victim to the ever-looming threat of “Senioritis”.  On the contrary, I have been frivolously doing research, reading dance and critique materials and attempting to secure tickets to performances to further my blog and my writing to include my own analyses of what professional dance (and how to write about it) entails.

However, before I dive headfirst into the rules and regulations of good journalism, I first wish to give some background of why I have chosen to dedicate my time to such a topic.  I hope this will allow those who read this to get some insight into both my life and two of the most important aspects of it.

First — dance.  A simple term with many meanings.  To some, dance merely takes the form of the prima ballerina in the Nutcracker that their parents took them to see when they were children.  To others, it’s being the hottest hip-hop group that MTV can find.  No matter what your personal definition of dance is, it has always been at least one thing to me: love.

I entered my first dance lesson when I was seven-years old at North Shore Dance Academy in Peabody, Massachusetts.  I was a slightly chubby, curly-haired little girl in brand new pink tights, leotard and matching skirt, donning pristine white tap shoes and recently sewn ballet shoes.  My “dance box”, a present from my grandfather, held my footwear and swung casually from my shoulder as my mom led me into the main dance room of the studio – a room that at that time, I didn’t realize would be my second home until age eighteen.

Ten years, ten recitals, more competitions and conventions that I can remember, numerous amounts of bruises and tears later, I graduated from high school and entered college, having to leave my studio and all that I knew of it behind.  I was devastated.

Coming to Assumption, I knew the school had a dance team, but I neglected to try out during my freshman year, knowing that it couldn’t possibly measure up to the prestigious training and award-winning lifestyle of dance that I was used to.  At NSDA, I had trained in tap, ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, pointe and had experience in ballroom dance, modern and hip-hop.  I attended competitions and conventions, auditioning (and winning) scholarships for different choreographers and companies and had the talent that, at the time, I thought was too good for the below-average Assumption College Dance Team who had never before even made it to finals at any nationals competition they attended.  My snobby attitude kept me from doing what I loved more than anything else for an entire year.  I figured I would never dance again.

Fast forward to three years later… that stuck-up freshman who refused to try out for her college’s dance team?  She is now one of the two senior captains of it.  Ironic?  Regardless, during fall semester of my sophomore year, a friend and long-time studio competitor of mine who was on the team already convinced me to try out.  Once I did and made the team, I never looked back.  It’s true that I had to change my style slightly to match the rest of the team, but not only did I find a renewed love for dance, but friendships and memories with the girls on my team that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

With senior year came captainship and a chance to take my team to the top of the collegiate dance world.  After a somewhat disappointing showing at nationals during my junior year, this year, I was and still am determined to make it to finals – a feat that has never before happened for the AC dance team.  After a painful, but rewarding, three days at dance team summer camp, my team walked away with “The Most Improved Award”, first place in our division and a partially paid bid to nationals this upcoming April in Daytona Beach, FL.  As our training continues, we could not be more excited, and I could not be more proud of how far my team has come.

Another reward of joining the dance team?  I had always dreamed of becoming a professional dancer but the goal seemed a bit out of reach for a long time.  However, my opportunity came.  After winning the “All-American” title at the same dance team camp the summer before, I was invited by the company (the National Dance Alliance) to apply for their prestigious summer program, performing and teaching at their camps around the country.  Months after applying, I was accepted on the NDA staff and worked for the company suring the summer of 2009.  Not only did I get to travel to places I had never been before (such as Oklahoma, Michigan and Indiana) to teach and perform, but I met girls who had the same passions and drives as I do, to dance as long as they can and inspire others to do the same.

After a long, successful dance career in my own life, it is now my turn to critique the work of others.  Using my developing (and beloved) writing skills, I will attempt to watch talented professionals as well as dancers my own age, in their performances and attempt to critique their work as a journalist.  I hope that this process will help me to better understand the “media” side of performing arts and expand my dance knowledge further.

Two passions now fuse together as one — to dance and to write… from the heart.

Published in: on February 15, 2010 at 5:42 am  Leave a Comment