Friday, January 11, 2013

First Semester Reflections Part 2: Dancing

Due to the unfortunate lack of Scottish Highland Dancing in these parts (although I'm working to remedy this) I took flamenco lessons this past semester, since that seems to be the thing to do here. While flamenco suffers from a serious lack of bouncing, it is at least very technical while maintaining its own folk style, which is what I like about highland. At our December recital, I was talking with one of my classmates, who is in her first year of a PhD in English at Andalus University, and she asked me how I balanced dancing with my academic life. My thoughts went along the lines of what are you talking about? to what other option is there? to well, you have to do something other than academics, which is what I finally said, since the first two seemed rather rude. She seemed relieved, explaining that some people in her program seemed to concentrate on doing only academics, so she felt strange doing dance as well. I assured her that I had done just fine in grad school doing both, and that it had in fact helped me when I was pretty much working all waking hours on my dissertation, because dancing in the afternoon gave me the energy to keep working into the evening. I mean, I hope to never again work the hours I worked on my dissertation, but taking that break to dance was what made it possible, albeit painful. If there are people who desire to spend every waking hour on academic work (I have personally not met one) they should most certainly do this, but it seems odd to me to have this be an expectation. This semester, I feel like I got plenty done, and I basically worked from 8-4:30 5 days a week (including breaks, and not including the occasional weekend hours I put in). By the time I got home, I was quite tired, and although I would usually read for an hour or two in the evening (although there was a big chunk of the semester where I didn't, for reasons that will become apparent in a later post) it seemed pretty much impossible to do anything other than dance, eat, and relax.

So I'm not really sure what the point of this post is, other than that I feel lucky that no one has ever made me feel guilty for dancing when I could in theory (but not in practice) be doing academic things, or that I have never even had to consider this as a potential conflict until this classmate asked this question. I suppose that I'm kind of sad and horrified that there are people who make my classmate feel like this, as it seems like a terrible and also pointless thing to do.

In any case, moving on with my dance plans for next semester, I am signed up to start teaching Highland Lessons, dance at a Burns Night, and will continue with flamenco. Happy Dancing to me!

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