By Charlotte Bydwell, fourth-year dancer
1. Outside the confines of your discipline, you can be a member of student groups and take on leadership roles within the Juilliard community. As a programming assistant for the Office of Student Affairs and a staff member for Residence Life, I have been able to use my creativity in a wider range of areas and improve my time management and communication skills.
2. Educational outreach is a significant and important part of being an artist in today’s world. Juilliard has many pre-existing programs through which students can develop their skills as arts advocates and experience the profound effects of their craft on those who are not exposed to it on a regular basis. I have been repeatedly amazed by the efforts of my peers to find new avenues for outreach by developing their own projects. Students from all the divisions commit their free time to the development of outreach programs and cultural exchanges that extend the reaches of their art forms.
3. Fatigue. To accomplish the supplemental activities listed in #1 and #2, a huge amount of energy and effort is required. Completing the curriculum alone demands a commitment of your total energy beyond what I could have imagined. For four years, you are asked to perform at a very high level for nearly all of your waking hours. Finding a regime for your downtime that will allow you to recuperate from your daily exertions is incredibly valuable.
4. Proper nutrition is a crucial factor in being able to meet the emotional and physical demands of the Juilliard curriculum. Being a dancer, food was always a concern, but in the past four years I have seen the impact that a balanced diet can have on everyone -actors and musicians included. Proper nourishment is key to being present and focused throughout the long hours of class and rehearsal.
5. Along with that, indulgences are important. I could never have anticipated the quality and abundance of tasty desserts in the Lincoln Center area alone. Bakeries and restaurants offer wonderful treats that are the perfect reward after a hard week’s work. A personal favorite: Levain Bakery’s enormous chocolate chip cookies (74th and Amsterdam). My newfound foodie identity has also led me to explore other areas of New York City in search of hidden hot spots and culinary gems. These discoveries have helped make NYC feel a little bit more like home.
6. A Juilliard student ID will give you discounts and freebies far beyond what you initially expect. Free movies at MoMA and $10 student tickets at the Brooklyn Academy of Music are only two of many cultural exploits that are possible on a student budget, thanks to a Juilliard student card.
7. Seeing in-house performances can be an education in and of itself. As a student, you can attend concerts, recitals and plays from all the divisions free of charge. It is truly inspiring to see the fruits of your peers’ labor and know that you are seeing the stars of tomorrow in action.
8. Although I anticipated having close ties with the other members of my class, I underestimated the importance and value of the bonds that I now share with my 24 classmates. They have been my support system throughout our four years together; they have offered their counsel in times of challenge and their congratulations in times of success. They will continue to be a strong source of inspiration and a valuable resource in the years ahead.
9. Everyone is at a very specific point on his or her own learning curve. When surrounded on a daily basis by high-achieving young artists, it can be difficult to not compare your progress to that of your peers. Learning to value my own journey, with its hold-ups and standstills, and give credit to myself for my individual set of skills has been a huge part of my development at Juilliard.
10. I didn’t realize that I would be on the brink of graduation and have no clear conception of where I hope to go from here. Juilliard was the dream for so many years, and I never really thought about what would come next. My four years have been filled with such a wide variety of experiences that I find myself blessed and cursed by having developed such a large array of possible interest and careers paths.