Story By MICHELLE JAMES
Six hours of dancing a day, five times a week is a normal week for modern dance major Courtney Collins. Along with the dancing, there has to be time for work from academic classes, as well as time to go to the gym.
Collins has been dancing since she was 2 years old. She started with ballet and tap and eventually also did jazz and lyrical and then modern. Collins said she chose to major in modern dance at the University of Utah because it is what she loves, and this way she can do what she loves for a living.
According to the Department of Modern Dance’s website, the U’s department has 100 undergraduates and 15 to 25 graduate students each year.
Classes for a modern dance major encompass many aspects of the dance industry. Collins has to take classes such as ballet, elements of music, kinesiology, dance history, dance production, choreography, improv and intro to technology.
“It enhances our knowledge,” said Collins about the variety of classes.
Pamela Gerber, director of undergraduate studies, said a dancer’s schedule “is very full as the dance class load is rigorous and for the most part, a prescribed list of course requirements over the course of four years.”
Having these dance classes and academic classes can have its challenges. Collins said the dance classes require lots of physical energy, and then there is additional outside work that needs to be done for dance and other classes. It’s also difficult to get involved in dance activities when she has other classes, said Collins.
Another difficulty that comes up when going between dance and academic classes is one that might not be as thought of. Collins said how they are very active in dance and then have 15 minutes to quickly get changed and go to an academic class.
Beyond the balancing of classes there is the need to work out outside of the classroom. Collins said people might think that since dancers are already active they might not have to go to the gym, but she still has to. Collins said she goes about three hours a week.
Courtney Collins’s mom, Michelle Collins, knows the difficulties that are part of a dancer’s life. Michelle said how much time dance classes take, which leave little room for studying and schoolwork.
“Dance requires physical stamina and academics need mental acuity, unfortunately the combination of late-night dance classes and little sleep adversely affect both of those,” said Michelle Collins.
Michelle Collins also said there are the emotional challenges of a dancer being exhausted after a weekend of performing or competitions.
Michelle Collins said the emotional support can be “exhausting and heartbreaking.”
Even with all these challenges, Courtney Collins finds a way to create a balance. She said she loves majoring in modern dance because she can be more focused on modern dance and grow more.
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