I wasn’t planning on applying to Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet Training Program in San Francisco, but after not being invited to the trainee program I was planning to attend in the fall, I decided to apply– on the day of the deadline. I already had an audition video put together, but it didn’t fulfill all of the audition requirements, and while I was pretty proud of the ballet footage, it had just earned me a ‘maybe’ from a program I’d been accepted to last year. I hastily wrote to my ballet teacher and asked her to send along a letter of recommendation (thank you, Cynthia!), filled out the online forms to the best of my ability, and thought I was good to send the whole thing off into cyberspace. I scrolled down and realized, with a slightly sick feeling, that written work was required as well– an artistic Letter of Intent discussing my goals as an artist. My goals as an artist? I thought. The whole point of attending Columbia this year is that I’m not so sure what my goals as an artist are, that on most days I have no idea what I want my future in dance to look like, and now I have a couple of hours to make up and eloquently describe some kind of convincing future for myself that will magically convince this program (which I’ve been rejected from before) to take me?
Well, to make a long and egotistical story shorter, I buckled down and wrote the thing. But I didn’t make anything up. I didn’t sugar-coat my struggles, gloss over the vagueness of my plans, or add false goals for rhetorical impact– I just gave the prompt serious thought, and tried to be as absolutely open and honest as I could possibly be, imagining what attending this program might allow me to do with my life that would bring me toward my goal of being artistically fulfilled while helping others in a truly meaningful way.
A few days ago, I got an email congratulating me on my acceptance to the program! I know it must have been largely due to my writing. It just goes to show: sometimes an unwelcome writing assignment can be an unexpected gift, and clarity can spring from the unlikeliest of situations. I’ve included a copy of my letter below, so you can see what I mean; this document is, without a doubt, the most coherent articulation of a possible future in dance that I have undertaken, and were it not for this last-minute application, I would never have written it.
Read the letter here:
(Photo Credit: Serena Ingram Photography)