“DANCE CHOSE ME.”
For modern dance major Ali Lane, life just seems to move at a faster pace.
Lane had a late start in dance, she was a 14-year-old freshman in high school when she started actively pursuing the art, and was a strange candidate in a pool of lifelong dancers when she applied to schools nationwide as a dance major.
Today, though, Lane has blown everyone’s expectations out of the water with her buoyant attitude in the face of the hectic schedule she’s chosen to take on. From rehearsals for university productions that keep her out late into the night, to academic classes that have her studying to the last minute, to practicing for performances unassociated with the university, Lane maintains a busy schedule.
But Lane doesn’t believe she ever really decided to take on as much as she has.
“I like to say dance chose me as opposed to me choosing dance, I guess I had a natural predisposition to it.”
That natural predisposition is necessary in a world that relies on the innate flexibility that can’t be perfected after around 12-years-old. Innate ability is by no means enough to succeed in the world of dance. Dancers must maintain that ability through daily classes, practices and rehearsals where they must also work on their dance technique.
Technique classes only take up a small portion of dance students’ days. The ballet and modern dance major programs at the University of Oklahoma require students to take a series of general education traditional academic courses alongside their dance classes and responsibilities in the School of Dance. This escalates the challenge and makes it more mentally taxing on dancers.
“It was like I mean I enjoy this but do I wanna do this every single day,” Lane said. “It’s like mentally and physically challenging. You have to pick this up really quickly and get in your body but then you also have to be able to translate, take this idea and this movement and be able to communicate with the audience or whoever this experience in movement. Have like artistry and stuff. It honestly can be really taxing. Its not just how book smart you are, I feel like I’m being tested everyday. I’m being pushed so much like just through my classes everyday like be mentally there as well as having to be physically there.”
Dance has become an exercise in catharsis for Lane.
“Its an escape for me,” Lane said. “No matter whats going on I can just like leave whatevers going on and its just me, that’s my time to work on whatever I want to work on. I have trouble expressing my feelings sometimes; it always feels like easier to do it through dance. I always want to have dance to express what I’m feeling. I would be so lost without it, I would be so miserable.”
Majoring in dance offers more than a place to perfect athleticism and artistry to Lane. The school of dance creates a place of psychosocial growth and emotional stability within the hectic collegiate world.
“It’s a really close-knit family feel [in the dance school],” Lane said. “I see people as I want to try to be like that, I use it like motivation, inspiration.”
That motivation goes beyond academic or athletic. It applies to Lane’s life beyond the university setting of textbooks and leotards.
“Be in the front, don’t be scared, just be strong and wrong if you have to. I’ve learned that you have to put all your energy in and not half ass anything,” Lane said.
Lane’s support system exists outside of the school of dance as well and despite her brimming schedule she finds time to spend with her friends and family who help to keep her grounded between all of her rehearsals and classes.
“[My friends] were really excited and happy when I got into dance school,” Lane said. “They knew it was really what I wanted to do, and my mom was always really supportive like they always want me to succeed they wont let me fall flat, they’ll always support me.”
That emotional support is especially important for aspiring performers who constantly live in an disheartening job market. While performing with a dance company has always been Lane’s number one priority, she spent the last summer at a dance intensive where she had the opportunity to train in choreography and even choreograph her own work. She’s kept up with her new skill and had her work included in this semester at the University of Oklahoma’s Young Choreographers Showcase.
Lane also performed in OU’s fall musical, Ragtime, this semester. The musical pulled students from across the performing arts departments: theater, dance, vocal performance and musical theater, to participate in the production.
Despite rehearsals that lasted late into the night, Lane still made time to work with her dancers for the Young Choreographer’s Showcase, and keep up with her academic classes.
Even with her hectic schedule, Lane admits to getting close to 6 hours of sleep on a good night, Lane’s love of what she has chosen to study hasn’t waned.
“At the end of the day, I love dance because its that time where I don’t have to worry about anything,” Lane said. “I still have so much going on in my head I can face my problems, but still kinda get away from them at the same time.”