Snow-ventures

SAM_2133 The Snow on campus has been pretty constant lately and that means I have been unable to drive anywhere. Since I live, work and go to class on campus this really is not the biggest problem; but sometimes I like to go driving to clear my head. In order to do that these past few weeks I have had to get a little more creative with how I spend my downtime.  (That is what my truck looks like right now, completely buried.)

 

I recently found mySAM_2160 old digital camera laying at the bottom of my desk drawer and immediately charged the battery. Once I got it working I went on a little photography adventure around campus. I used to take pictures with my and dad and sister all the time growing up, so it was very nice to get the change to revisit that activity.

Winter might make things like driving to other areas or walking to class a little more difficult but honestly it really is very beautiful. Her are some of my pictures from my small adventure. All of my photos were taken on Allegheny’s Campus; and the sky was incredible when I was taking these, so I hope you enjoy!

 

SAM_2193SAM_2171SAM_2228SAM_2165SAM_2164 SAM_2239 SAM_2245

Last Allegheny Semester Bucket List

Hello There!! I have finally returned from a long hiatus of finishing my Senior Comprehensive Project and then winter break. This will be my last semester at Allegheny college and as a Super Senior this has been a long time coming. I have decided that I want to make this last semester as memorable as possible; so I have created a “Last Semester Bucket List” containing everything I hope to do and see this semester. This list is always subject to additions however; here is the list I have so far:

  • Be kissed on the 13th plank: Allegheny legend has it that if a freshman girl is kissed by an upperclassman on the 13th plank she is off limits to freshman boys and is officially an Alleghenian. I was never kissed on the 13th plank as a freshman or at any other time while I have been at Allegheny. While it does not fit in with the legend, better late than never. This is just one of many things I hope to say I did while I was here.
  • Stand in the circle of pines:

    “In 1873 members of the graduating class planted a “circle of pines”—really Norway spruce—between present-day Ford Chapel and Newton Observatory. One tree was planted for each of the fifteen members. According to legend, as a class member died, so too died a tree. By October 1935 only two trees were left, and only two members of the class remained living. It was then that the class of 1915 planted fifteen red pines in a circle 50 feet in diameter as a memorial to both the classes of 1873 and 1915. An arc of three of these still stood in 2004.

    In the first decades of the twentieth century tradition asserted that if a student held hands with his girl in the center of the circle on a clear night illuminated by a full moon, his wish to gain her heart would come true.”

    [Excerpt from “Through All the Years: A History of Allegheny College” by Jonathan E. Helmreich, Emeritus Professor of History and College Historian]

    There is also a stone plaque in the center of the circle of pines that says anyone who stands there under a full moon will receive good fortune for their future. Whether this is specific to winning someone’s heart or not I cannot be sure, however I would like to be a part of these legends/traditions as well.

  • Build Something Awesome out of snow: It snows a majority of the time that we as Allegheny students are on campus; and as much as that is true I have only played in the snow a handful of times. I would love to do it one last time building something really memorable.
  • GFC Open Mic: The student run coffee shop on campus periodically holds open mic nights where students come and play music or share poetry. I have always wanted to perform during one of them but never had that courage to do so. This is my last semester and I am challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone.
  • Niagara Falls: During my Junior year I had the opportunity  to travel to Buffalo New York with two other Allegheny students and a professor to see the Broadway show American Idiot. It was on this trip when I realized how close to Niagara Falls Allegheny College is. I have never been to Niagara Falls; so if it is possible I would love to try.
  • Apply to Grad school: This one is less fun and exciting as the others, however it is incredibly important to me. I aspire to get my Master’s Degree in counseling or dance/movement therapy. I am very passionate about helping people and this is the next step.
  • Work on on more Playshop production: As a Theatre Major the Playshop Theatre quickly became my home. I have grown so much as a person and met so many amazing friends working on productions. It would mean the world to me to be a part of one last production before I leave Allegheny.
  • Star gazing: A group of my friends, who are now Alumni, used to take me up to Robertson Field late at night to go star gazing. I am from the suburbs of Cincinnati and due to light pollution we do not get the same beautiful night skies and stars that we do here in Meadville. This is definitely something I would like to see on more time before I graduate.
  • Lighthouses: Allegheny College is only 45mins south of Erie Pennsylvania. There are a few lighthouses in Erie I would absolutely love to visit, and since I am so close I thought this would be perfect thing to add to my list.
  • Presque isle:  After my Dad passed away and I returned to Allegheny for my Sophomore year I had a counselor challenge me to go up to Presque Isle in Erie by myself and just walk around. To spend sometime with myself and away from everything stressful. I never made it up there that year, but have always wanted to go.
  • Visit The Caring Place: During my Sophomore year I attended weekly grief groups at The Caring Place in Erie. This community really helped me process the loss of my Dad and gave me some much needed support. Every family who goes there gets to make a quilt square in memory of their lost loved one and the quilts get stitched together and hung on the walls of the center. They are really truly beautiful. I have not had the opportunity to see the square I made for my Dad since it has been attached to a quilt and hung up, this is something I would very much love to do.
  • Graduate: This one is self explanatory 🙂

If you have any suggestions on other things I could add to my list feel free to leave a comment and let me know. I will be writing future posts about my adventures so stay tuned!

What I learned in Counseling Today…

Over the past 3 years I have built a fairly strong relationship with the college counseling center. I first started going there my Sophomore year after my dad passed away. I was reluctant to go at first, thinking that it would not be helpful to me; however I ended up having a really good experience. My counselor at the time was able to help me stay in school while dealing with my feelings of grief and loss. A lot of people in my life suggested that I take a leave of absence for the semester; however that was not what I wanted and my counselor really listened to me and worked with me to so that I could be as successful as the circumstances would allow.

During my the years following I worked with the counseling center and a few of its counselors to provide a group for students who had experienced grief and loss. Since young adults tend to be overlooked when it comes to getting support for the loss of loved ones I felt it to be incredibly important for members of the Allegheny community to have this available to them. When I first approached the counseling center with this idea they were unsure of the number of students we would actually be able to get to attend, however rather than just turning me away they agreed to give the group a chance. We were able to get a small group of about 4 or 5 students, we would meet every two weeks and do different activities centering around different topics of the grief process. Some days we would play games and others do art projects. The unique thing about the group was that rather than forcing people to talk about what they were going through it gave them a safe space to just be. Allowing us all to be in the company of those who know what we are going through was sometimes even more powerful than talking about how we were feeling. I really loved the way the counseling center embraced what I wanted to do and together we provided a support network for other members of our community.

This year I am still involved with the counseling center this time again as a patient. Since the loss of my dad I have struggled with school work, motivation, and focus. The reason I stay connected with a counselor is because I find that it gives me a safe place to talk about my stressors and better manage them. I am not ashamed of receiving this help, because with it I am healthier and a more productive student. I am lucky to be on a college campus where I feel like I can find the support that I need in order to be successful.

So, what did I learn in counseling today? I learned that it is important to celebrate our small victories and not devalue the things we accomplish. I work with a children all the time, and when they accomplish something, even if it is as small as tying their shoe, my first reaction is to give them a high five and tell them that they are amazing. It can be hard to remember, especially in a stressful college environment, that we need to treat ourselves with the same kind of love and care. However if we can do this, it may help to provide motivation for even the most stressful of tasks.

Auditions, Casting, and Rehearsal Oh my!

I recently joined a group of four other student directors to audition actors for Student Experimental Theatre’s One Acts. One acts are a completely student run and directed performance done each year on campus. My roommate and I are doing an original piece that she wrote. She will be directing two actors who will be having a dialogue, while I choreograph two dancers to move out the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters in the play. This is the first time I have ever choreographed anything outside of my dance classes, so I am very excited. I think this piece will give me a very good opportunity explore my own creativity as well as that of my dancers.

In the auditions the actors came into the room in pairs and read a dialogue in front of our panel of directors. The directors would often ask them to reread the dialogue with certain emotions or motivations to make sure they saw what they wanted to see from the actors in order to make the best choices possible. Once they finished reading, it was time for what quickly became ever director’s favorite part of the audition. I had the actors to put down their scripts and played two short sections of music, asking them to move their bodies to whatever emotions they were feeling when they heard the songs. It was really fun to watch how different people interpreted the music. Most people danced or moved around the room on their own, however some did dance with their scene partner and that was always really interesting to see. After doing this I know one thing for sure, and that is that when you ask people to move to music you instantly see their personalities. Even if they are not a dancer you can find out something new and interesting about them, which I really loved.

Once the auditions were over, all of the directors met together to discuss our choices for actors, since there are five shows some negotiations had to be made about which director would get to work with which actors. I think in the end everyone was very happy with the cast they got for their play. I know that my roommate were very excited about our cast. My two dancers are amazing and I am really excited for all the work we will be able to do together.

We had our first rehearsal this week, not much dance happened at this particular rehearsal because I wanted to talk through my process and the concept for the show as well as get to know my dancers a little better. Both of them seemed very excited about the piece, and we will be holding more rehearsals after fall break to put everything together. I am really looking forward to see what we create. I will write more on the process after a few more rehearsals, so stay tuned!

A Weekend of Dance

This weekend I had the amazing opportunity to perform in a dance show on Allegheny’s Campus, with Antaeus Dance. Several Allegheny students returned a couple of weeks before classes began to be a part of a Summer Dance intensive hosted each year by the college and run by the members of Antaeus. Ballet and tap classes in elementary school, and one class in modern dance at Allegheny were my only experiences in dance prior to participating in the intensive. I learned so much during those two weeks in August. The intensive helped me to bring our the dancer I have always had inside myself, I definitely have plans to keep dancing for the rest of my life.

During the intensive we had the opportunity to spend a little extra time in rehearsals to learn the two pieces we performed this weekend. I was unsure of what to expect during the process of learning and creating these dances, especially being someone who had very little experience. I felt nervous that I would be unable to do some of the choreography or not be able to remember it once we learned it. Learning the dances was definitely hard work, and some days it was easier to pick up the choreography than others, but in the end I was surprised at how good of a dancer I actually am. Once the intensive was over the groups that learned the pieces met about once a week to practice the dances and make them the best we could.

This weekend all of our work was finally put on the stage for our community to enjoy. On Friday night we went to Montgomery (the dance building on campus) and had a technical rehearsal. We did a short cue-to-cue so that the lights were in the correct places for each piece. Once that was finished we did a run through of each dance with lights. Having a chance to see what the lights were going to look like made me excited for the performance.

On Saturday, Antaeus did a master class that anyone in our community was invited to attend. This class was the warm up for all the dancers who were in the performance as well. One of our choreographers form the intensive, Desmond, ran the class. Working with him and the other dancers that afternoon took me right back to the afternoon classes of the intensive, I really enjoyed the technique and composition classes we were able to do.

After the master class I had about two hours before my call time. I took this time to eat dinner and relax. The two dance pieces we were performing were very emotional so I wanted to make sure I was in the right state of mind for the show. At 7pm I went to Montgomery to meet with the other dancers, and get ready for the performance.

My fellow dancers and I were not performing until the second half of the show so we kept our street clothes on so that we could sit in the audience and watch Antaeus perform their firs two pieces. They were really beautiful compositions. The first one used chairs, and had a background of chairs sitting in various positions and candles, and the second used a musical track the had spoken words instead of singing or just instrumentals. It was truly a moving experience to see those pieces performed, and to watch those who taught me during the intensive dancing.

At intermission we all headed to the green room to get into costume and ready for our time on the stage. One of the other members of Antaeus who choreographed one of our pieces, Joan, talked to us before we walked up to the performance space. She wished us merde, which is what they say in dance to wish each other good luck. It is bad luck to wish performers in theatre good luck, so we say “break a leg”, and in dance wishing the dancers to break a leg is bad luck, so they say merde.

We all walked to the wings of the stage and waited for the piece before ours to finish. The dancers bowed and exited the stage. Our warming lights came up, and then there was blackout. In the dark we quietly took our places. The music began and the lights came up, and we began dancing the piece. It felt really amazing to dance under the lights, and be on stage in front of an audience. I am a stage manager in the Allegheny College Playshop Theatre so I am usually behind the scenes and not a performer. This role reversal was very refreshing and enjoyable, I not only have more respect for the performers I work with but I also would love to perform more in the future.

Once the first piece ended, we took our bows and exited the stage to get ready for our next piece. A quick costume change and it was back to the stage waiting to go on. Once again the other dancers exited the stage, there was a change in the lights, and we took our places. This was the final piece of the performance, and as I was dancing it I was transported to a different place, I was not focused on what I was doing I was just there in the moment dancing, which felt spectacular.

It was really rewarding to work so hard on something and get to show that work off. Everyone I talked to who watched the performance really enjoyed it. This was most definitely an experience I will never forget, and I have been inspired to continue dancing for a long time. I look forward to the next time I get to join a group of dancers on the stage.

24 Hour Theatre Festival

This past weekend I had the experience of participating in Allegheny Student Experimental Theatre’s (S.E.T.) first annual 24 Hour Theatre Festival.

Chalk board decorations in the green room
Chalk board decorations in the green room

On Friday night everyone got together in the Arter “little theatre” and was divided into seven different teams. Each team had until 7pm on Saturday to write and produce an original short play. We were given two items that we had to incorporate into our show as a costume piece and a prop. My group was given a Christmas themed piece of fabric and a metal trashcan lid. Everyone also had a line that needed to be included into each and every play. The line the teams had to use was: “The moon is a little too bright tonight” It was interesting to see how each team worked it into their play.

20140920_113155
“The moon is a little too bright tonight

My team used Christmas as our inspiration; partially because we were given the Christmas themed fabric and partially because of a pen we received. We needed something to write with and were given a pen that had the year 2007 on it and said “A holiday greeting to shine throughout your year.” from this our team and show received the name Christmas 2007. Our play ended up being about this Man who is telling the story of Christmas 2007 to a kid, who keeps not liking story and asking him to change it. As the story changes it gets more and more ridiculous. Until finally the old lady who is in the story stops the man and tells everyone what actually happened on Christmas 2007. It ended up being a really funny play.

Each team had their own strategy for how they wanted to used the 24 hours we were given. My team wrote our script until 10 or 11pm and then called it a night. It was nice to get a full night’s sleep before working all the next day. We met back in Arter at 9:30am on Saturday and had breakfast, which S.E.T. provided for us, and then got to work on staging our play.

Breakfast!
Breakfast!

We used the whole morning to get the blocking for our performance down and rehearsed. My characters were a Christmas Caroler and the voice of the kid. The lines were not difficult to memorize which is good since as a Stage Manager I am usually behind the stage and not on it.

Around 1 or 2pm my team took a break to get lunch and rest before returning to the theatre to do a technical run of all the shows before our performance. During this break I went to a dance rehearsal for a performance with Antaeus Dance that I will be a part of next weekend. Once the rehearsal was over I went back to theatre and everyone ran through their performances with lights and sounds to make sure the cue were correct, and then we got ready to perform for an audience.

Each team sat in the audience during the performance so we got to see what the other teams created. Their plays were truly spectacular and no two were alike. It seemed like the audience enjoyed the performance as well. This was definitely an experience to remember and if given the chance to do it again I definitely would.

If you want to know more about S.E.T. at Allegheny College check out their Facebook page here.

The board that organized the festival introducing the show
The board that organized the festival introducing the show