Tattering pointe shoes lay next to stacks of school books, exhausting practice coupled with rigorous academics. This is the world of the dancer at Hillsdale.
Two students, senior Sarah Schweizer and sophomore Priscilla Larson, want to take their commitment to dance even further and introduce Hillsdale’s dancers to a new dance honorary.
The National Honor Society for Dance Arts is a nationally-recognized honorary, which dance director Holly Hobbs said requires artistic merit, leadership, and academic achievement.
“It will bring our dance students together,” Hobbs said. “Focusing on the more social aspects of participating in dance.”
Schweizer said dance is one of the only places she meets underclassmen.
“It’s nice to know other dancers and hang out with them and do things only other dancers can understand,” Schweizer said.
Although the honorary is still in the planning stages, Larson said she has lofty plans for it.
“I’ve been waiting for this forever,” Larson said. “In my ideal world, we would do lots of performances because I love to dance.”
However, she and Schweizer both said they need to talk to the other dancers about what kind of commitment everyone can make to more performances.
Currently, dancers only have one chance a year to perform, the Tower Dancer’s annual spring concert. But, Larson said, the Tower Dancers requires a big commitment that not all girls can juggle with their academic schedule.
“We want a better support system and a way to stay in shape,” Larson said. “That’s hard to do with just one dance class a week and you can get discouraged really easily.”
Larson said the honorary would provide dancers the chance to dance in smaller performances throughout the semester, bringing the dance community together without destroying their academic achievements.
The honorary wouldn’t be confined to more performances. Larson and Schweizer said they’d love to go on excursions to see other performances or find a way to give back to the community.
Because Tower Dancers focuses primarily on modern dance, Larson hopes their honorary can explore different kinds of dancing or dance performances with other on-campus groups.
“We could combine ballet with ballroom,” Larson said. “Or have musicians play for a performance.”
Larson added that the honorary is not girls-only and the female dancers would love male dancers to join.
“I love partnering so much,” Larson said. “It would expand the different kind of things we could do.”
According to Schweizer, the hardest part about doing more performances will be finding an audience — even more difficult than finding male dancers at Hillsdale.
“I’ve met people who didn’t even realize there was a dance program,” Schweizer said.
To combat the problem, she said the honorary may perform in unconventional places, such as the quad, where people would have a hard time avoiding them.
“We want to stress the importance of dance,” Larson added. “Hillsdale puts so much stress on academics, we don’t always look to the arts.”
Larson said that contradicts a liberal arts education, and although Hillsdale has strong music and arts programs, dance often gets pushed aside.
“Dancing is really important,” Larson said. “It expresses emotions you can’t with words.”
She said students may gain a greater appreciation of dance if they are exposed to it more often.
“Think about pointe shoes,” Larson said. “People think dance shoes are all pretty, but the shoes actually look ugly after they get used so much. But something so beautiful can come from them.”