April 2, 2013 – I successfully defended my dissertation – no changes. My defense was pretty amazing. At one point in the Q&A, a committee member asked me to expound on “creating a relationship with art.” To be perfectly honest, I sort of went into a lengthy iteration of only god knows what because I really can’t tell you without looking up the transcript other than I know I started off talking about the glow of life in the translucency of marble and acknowledging reality in historic art, our place in history being no greater than any others and somehow ended up talking about our responsibility as human beings to respect our own context by understanding the context of historical lives – I don’t even know what all I said except that it was all very impassioned and when I finished there was a long silence and then Dr. Committee Member said almost in a hush – “that was beautiful.” Thus ended the Q&A with my advisor beaming and there were congratulations and declarations of Dr. Bead109 and everyone was very very happy.
30 days later…
May 2, 2013 – I am listening to Tchaikovsky all the way to Virginia. I close my eyes on the commuter flight from Dulles to Richmond and watch Manuel Legris and Monique Loudieres dance Theme & Variation in my mind. I’ve never actually seem them dance it, not even on YouTube, but in my imagination, they are perfection. We drive under the enormous skies of Virginia and marvel at the greenness of everything, city dwellers are always amazed by trees. At the University, I picked up my regalia, they say Congratulations, Dr. Bead109. It’s strange and amazing.
May 3, 2013 – Commissioning services are the event during which the doctoral candidate is conferred his or her hood. One of the faculty explains the significance of the regalia, which is pretty cool because that sort of minutia isn’t something that is common knowledge. And each candidate is hooded by their dissertation chair and committee. There are some speeches and some awards and the whole thing ends with cake. I’m down for any opportunity to wear a puffy tam while eating dessert!
May 4, 2013 – We are standing in the rain and it’s too late as there are literally thousands of people waiting to watch a graduation and there is no way to move the ceremony inside now. But if you’ve worked years and years and suffered, sweated, slaved and cried over years of course work, comprehensive exams and a dissertation, you would stand in a hurricane for the opportunity to have conferred on you “all the rights and responsibilities” from the president of your university – believe me. And so we stood and then marched in the rain. At least it let up while we received our diplomas. There were more speeches, a lot of cheering, and you know what? I forget all the hullabaloo but it was pretty awesome. I can’t help but fiddle with my gold tassel. We stand around in a damp daze, a bunch of beaming doctors.
May 6, 2013 – I’m back in my normal day-to-day thing. Everything is the same and everything has changed. I check days and times of ballet classes, figuring that I should start out with super basic beginner classes again. I’ve probably forgotten everything…plus, there’s the whole injured foot thing. I decide to take a class and discover to my delight, I have not forgotten. It feels right and somehow both difficult and wonderfully simple. My piqué turns are actually pretty! My legs feel heavier, my back is tighter but my arms are happy and fluid.
Somewhere in the last 30 days or so I had a pretty complete and thorough meltdown, a total out-of-body awesome experience in Tokyo with one of my all time favorite dancer-choreographers, lived a life long dream and achieved everything. It’s like I went supernova… and at the end of the black hole was light… and ballet.