This semester I’m taking a class that doesn’t exactly fall into my Biology major – Contemporary Dance. I signed up for it thinking that it would challenge me in ways that my other classes simply couldn’t, and so far it has lived up to expectations.

Yesterday in class we did an exercise that was meant to help us focus in on the sensation of movement. With closed eyes and bare feet, we were led around Dana Lawn by a partner. Our partners steered us randomly across the lawn, taking us up hills or down the paved walking paths or underneath the trees. At times they would start walking us backwards or break into a run.

When first starting the exercise I felt a little nervous. I was hesitant, my face was tight with uncertainty, and I wondered when we would be done. But once I lost the fear of walking headlong into a tree, I was able to focus on what I was feeling and not on what I couldn’t see.

I’ve walked across Dana Lawn many times but have never payed it much attention. This time I noticed the warmth of the sun-baked grass, the cool shady areas still wet with morning dew, every pebble or acorn, the steepness of the hills. By having my eyes closed I became more aware of my surroundings.

When I began to trust both my partner and my feet, my mind began to wander. Free from  deciding my own path or watching for obstacles, I was left with only the sensation of movement. It was so refreshing (especially in the midst of hectic college life) to surrender all responsibility and simply move.

After we had finished and switched roles, we were then (still with closed eyes) allowed to pick our own paths. Our partner was there to stop us from tripping or smacking into other people, but other than that we were free to move in any way we chose. Our professor called it an “exploration of movement”, encouraging us to play with direction and speed, to try jumping or running backwards or going to the ground.

I felt an initial nervousness during this exercise as well. Without the guidance of a partner I felt vulnerable and exposed. Still, it wasn’t long before I lost my fear and learned how to just go for it, to not hold myself back.

I don’t need to have Contemporary Dance on my transcript in order to get into grad school. Still, there’s no doubt that the class will give me experiences that I couldn’t have in a traditional classroom or the lab. As I’ve learned so far, it’s best to just let go of those nervous jitters and commit to trying something new.

Have a great weekend!

Alice H

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