As a senior at Hopkins, I tend to walk around thinking I’ve done it all: I’ve studied in every study space, I’ve had coffee at all the local places, I know what walkways to avoid on especially rainy or snowy days if sudden death is to be avoided. But I only recently took advantage of something available to every Hopkins student, no matter their year or experience level, free of charge: dance classes in Mattin Center.
I’ve been wanting to take ballet again for a few years now; I did it in middle and high school, off and on, and loved it. I was never especially good or especially flexible, but I liked the simultaneous grace and strength I felt during each class, how much more aware of my body’s capabilities I became. But, like I said, I took classes here and there over a stretch of a few years, often feeling like it was too late to truly get any good (many of the girls in my classes had been dancing for years and probably went to sleep doing splits). I came to Hopkins and thought about it every so often, but I never took the time to look for classes here.
Until, well, this year. I was talking to a friend about why I enjoyed dancing generally, and my love for ballet came up. “Don’t they have classes here?” she said. “They must.” Until she asked, I hadn’t ever investigated; I’d always assumed you had to audition for them, or be able to do splits in your sleep, or be at Peabody to do anything like that. But of course, everything was far simpler than I’d imagined: Hopkins has free ballet classes twice a week, free, open to everyone, even beginners, even people who haven’t danced for 6 years, even people who are about as flexible as a block of wood (people like me).
When I first found out about the classes last semester, I thought you had to go to both classes; I had class during one of the time slots. But in my way, I hadn’t read the fine print properly: if you can only make one class, it’s OK. So here I am, a Thursday afternoon, rusty, inflexible (but trying!) ballet dancer in my last semester at Hopkins.
What is the moral of this story? It’s twofold, I suppose. The first part is simply this: maintaining extracurricular interests of all sorts, even those you wouldn’t expect, even the smallest ones, is entirely possible in college — I learned this quite late. But, more importantly, it’s especially possible at Hopkins, even if it’s in a more remote corner of campus, in a dance studio overlooking the BMA Sculpture Garden on a quiet Thursday afternoon. For all its academic rigor, this is also a place to be well-rounded and stay well-rounded, a place that gives you the opportunity to do so: I’m grateful to have taken it in this new way, even as I’m slowly on my way out.