Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
It’s been 5 years since I gave up ballet. I outgrew my black leotards and pink tights, my pointe shoes turned into cross-country shoes, and instead of splits I started doing 5Ks. So when I went to the workshop for Rhythm n’ Motion, more often referred to as RnM, at Ride the Tide, I was really just planning to stand on the side and admire the other dancers while they did pirouettes or grand jetés to classical music. Instead, the sexy salsa music inspired me to, or at least attempt to, channel my spirit animal, Beyoncé.
With all the fun I had during the workshop, I hoped to audition for RnM this fall. However, while speaking to other students, I kept on hearing how time consuming, cliquey, and difficult the auditions would be. After so many years of not dancing and having no prior experience in the styles that RnM did, I had too many self-doubts to allow myself to audition. But after speaking to the RnM members themselves, and seeing how passionate and excited they were, I decided to lean into my discomfort and just have fun at the auditions. I am thankful for the persistent RnM members who spurred me to audition. Y’all are wonderful pains-in-the-ass.
Before any actual dancing happened, everyone was assigned numbers, had their pictures taken, and filled out an interest form. Meanwhile, people were in clumps discussing their dance backgrounds and how they felt about auditions. Super intimidating. While other people were doing splits and backbends and kicks on the ballet barre, I was just doing the static stretches I learned in gym.
It was only when the song “You Know You Like it” by AlunaGeorge started playing during the warm-up exercises that I started loosening up and enjoying myself. The warm-up floor exercises made the whole audition process less intimidating. As Susie Min ’18 put it, when “you dance, you don’t really think about that stuff – [we’re] all doing it together so it breaks any ‘barrier’ between grade[s] or school[s].” Instead of worrying, I totally forgot I was in an audition and just let Lil’ Mama serenade me with her poppin’ lipgloss.
Continuing with what would be a three hour-long audition process, I had to learn an African, Salsa, and Hip-hop routine. While some people learned the choreography slower than others, RnM members and even other students helped each other review the moves and answer questions. I never had any prior experience in African dancing and the fluid yet powerful movements really surprised me and made me aware of my ignorance toward other styles of dance.
Not knowing exactly when or how I was going to find out, I walked out of LPAC with my newly-made dance friends, drenched in sweat and in a post-adrenaline rush daze. Less than two hours later, I got my call from RnM to inform me that I made it. I had to run from Sharples all the way back to LPAC for the Newbie Welcome Party. The whole way back I kept thinking to myself what other opportunities in the past I passed up because of my fear of failing.
Back in LPAC, RnM welcomed 17 “Newbies” to the family, which is the largest Newbie class ever. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many people hug me within the span of 3 minutes before. Co-director of RnM Frank Wu ‘16 said that RnM is “super excited about this semester’s Newbie class because they each bring something different to the group and have such great energies.”
Additionally, many Newbies are upperclassmen and have auditioned before. Bryn Mawr student Aleja Newmen ’17 explained that what made her keep auditioning was the community, vibe, and variety of dance styles that RnM offers.
As a freshman Newbie, I feel so honored to be so quickly accepted into such a strong network of Swatties that extends beyond the stage. I humbly urge my fellow freshman peers to live fearlessly with this Pass/Fail semester. Pick up old hobbies and find new passions. And most importantly, just have fun.