The past six months have both raced and crawled by at the same time. Finishing senior year of high school and the last year at my ballet studio from home was unexpected, but I’m grateful to have spent more time with my family. It’s bittersweet to leave places I’ve called home, but I’m ready to start the next chapter in my life.
This summer brought me a balance of meaningful work and play. For four weeks, I participated in State Street Ballet’s virtual summer intensive. With my kitchen counter as a barre and a sheet of marley taped to the tile floor, I trained with a new group of people through my laptop screen. Even in the 5’ by 7’ space in my kitchen, I was able to push myself out of my comfort zone and gain a new understanding of dance. I’ve also enjoyed the downtime – a Uno game with my parents, a spread-out picnic with my friends, a new book finished – and especially getting to connect with the people closest to me.
In July, I worked at my ballet studio when they reopened, helping to keep everything sanitized and everyone safe. Cleaning floors, barres, bathrooms, tables, chairs, and hallways kept me busy, and gave me respect and appreciation for essential workers. Training and working gave me a surge of motivation and valuable experience – a good bridge to my gap year.
I’ve wanted to take a gap year since junior year so I could gain more experience before college and continue my 14 years of dance training. I plan to attend the trainee program at American Repertory Ballet in Princeton, New Jersey – most likely virtually. I hope to grow as an artist and to learn more about the relationship between dance and other disciplines (such as science). I also plan to volunteer locally, especially by tutoring younger students in ballet or academics. I hope to improve my interpersonal skills and to contribute to my community, even through a Zoom screen. During my gap year, I want to further explore my academic interests, including neuroscience and art history, and to uncover new interests as well. This summer has helped me gain the adaptability I need for a gap year, and I’m ready to start exploring.
Wherever I am, I hope to improve my work ethic and explore different methods of communication and creation. I’m excited to be a part of the Duke Gap Year Program, and to discover new passions and ideas. I can’t wait to see where my gap year takes me.