As Pauline Mosley ’19 and Aidan O’Leary ‘19, both from Chicago, prepared for their Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA in Dance performances in the Senior Projects in February, the inspiration for their choreographed works is drawn from their Dominican experience and summer internships.
“I’ve done a lot of research. College has been a soul-searching, soul-seeking experience for me,” says Pauline, a psychology minor whose senior thesis is titled `Composite Bodies.’ “I’ve been trying to find myself and I feel like this piece shows there are so many parts to us, but there is not one thing that defines us. Throughout this whole process I have found I cannot limit to one possibility, to one goal. There are so many different parts to me than can achieve so many things.”
Aidan, like Pauline, has been moved by the challenges and demands of the LINES Ballet BFA in Dance program in the School of Liberal Arts and Education. He has embraced the confrontation and changes and grown from it. That will be reflected in `Walking Each Other Home,’ his senior thesis.
“The best thing I have taken away from this program is how intimately the things you do every day and the world at large are connected. I love saying dance training is life training and that has been revealed to me time and time again,” Aidan says. “As much as I have become a better dancer and I have connected with new friends and had great experiences, I’ve become a better person.”
Aidan, who stands 6-foot-5, discovered his passion for dance when he was a freshman in high school at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. To improve, he asked teachers “What’s a good intensive for tall people?”
That led him to the LINES Ballet Summer Program where Aidan was enamored by what he saw.
“What is this style of movement they teach?” Aidan recalls with awe. “It really represented where I wanted to go with dance.”
Two weeks later, Aidan and Pauline discovered Dominican on a chaperoned tour to San Rafael. They were struck by the beauty and serenity of the campus.
“It put Dominican on the map for me,” Aidan says.
Aidan was completely sold on Dominican when, during an audition at the Marin Ballet the following spring, he learned about the Gold Hill Grade fire trail above the Dominican campus. He then hiked it with his father and saw the magnificent panoramic view.
“That did it for me,” says Aidan, who had considered enrolling in dance programs at seven colleges including the University of Arizona and SUNY Purchase College.
In the meantime, Aidan’s mother was in the process of moving to Ireland, which allowed him the past three years to enroll in summer intensive programs with the Dutch National Ballet, the ArtofBallet Madrid, and Henny Jurriens in Amsterdam.
Pauline, too, sought a summer intensive program. This past year she was accepted into the Performing Arts Abroad dance program in Barcelona, but canceled to help care for her father, who was ill in Chicago.
Instead, Pauline, who graduated from Whitney Young Magnet High School, continued to train and instruct in her home studio, the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center, with artistic director Homer Hans Bryant, former principal dancer with the world renowned Dance Theater of Harlem.
Inspired by faculty she engaged with at the LINES Ballet Summer Program, Pauline’s reasons for coming to Dominican included opportunities for scholarships, to learn and perhaps teach GYROTONIC®, and to work with world class dance faculty and witness LINES Ballet dancers, including BFA in Dance alumni Michael Montgomery ’11, Jeffrey Van Sciver ’13, and Ilaria Guerra ’13.
“This is one of only a few programs affiliated with an actual dance company so we get to see the company rehearse and go to their galas. We are around professionals a lot and that is very motivating,” Pauline says. “As seniors we just had our ‘Alonzo King Week’ so we got to work with the company director and renowned choreographer every day for both ballet and workshop. That was a very inspiring moment. I learned a lot about myself, about dance, and about what I want to do in the future.”
Aidan is in the same place. Looking ahead to the future while at the same time reflecting on his time with the BFA in Dance experience. From the early morning bus rides from campus to train in the LINES Ballet studios in San Francisco to the late night choreography sessions in Pennafort Hall.
“From the beginning I knew it was going to be intense and it delivered on that promise,” Aidan says. “It has stretched every dimension of who I am as a person and given me the ability to not believe when I think `This is all I can do’ or `This is the best I can do.’ You learn to push yourself and your limits. That is pretty much built into the program.”
Aidan is lining up auditions, including one with Hubbard Street in Chicago. Pauline, too, is preparing for upcoming auditions. She also is exploring the idea of becoming certified as a GYROTONIC® trainer. Ultimately Pauline would love to open her own studio and provide dance therapy for disabled children.
For the time being Pauline is working with fellow dancers to put the finishing touches on choreography for `Composite Bodies’ for Senior Projects. That is an emotional undertaking.
“This is kind of the like the first time I have really experienced working with pre-professionals, all of my peers,” Pauline says. “Working at this caliber of ability with amazing talent is opening my eyes to what I can really do and where I can go in the future. It’s inspiring me.”
Photo by Samantha Weeks ’19