Clare McGowan: A Delightful Dancer

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Eva Lucchino '15, Editor-In-Chief

Many of us still remember our freshman choir trip to the Benedum Center to see a ballet, whether it was Cinderella or Peter Pan.  The dancing was exquisite and the lack of words unusual to those of us who love to talk (Cough, cough me.).  The most amazing aspect of the dancing could have been the ease with which the ballerinas and ballet dancers lifted their legs to their heads and assumed some positions us inflexible people could never dream of attaining.  Ballet, like many other activities, is deceivingly simple; take it from Clare McGowan, a sophomore at OC and a part-time dancer at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

If you thought being a full time student was hard enough try being a full time student and a part-time dancer.  Clare says, “the schedule is designed to be intense.”  She dances from three to six p.m. on weekdays and nine in the morning to one-fifteen in the afternoon on Saturdays!  The practices always consist of ballet and one other class ranging from modern to pointe or from jazz to pilates.  Talk about a variety!

Like any art, dance is a form of expression.  The dancer needs to make the audience feel what he or she feels, such as betrayal when seeing your love dance with someone he believes to be you (Swan Lake) or joy when you experience the most wonderful Christmas of your life (The Nutcracker).  No matter the feeling, it needs to be expressed.  According to Clare, “[a] lot of the instructors say that you have to express yourself . . . to get people to really want to watch, because without expression dance is boring.”  Clare’s favorite aspect of dance is the expression you need to portray through all of your movements.

A dance schedule like Clare’s does add unwanted stress, but it allows for great friendships to bloom.  Doing something less common than joining one’s grade school basketball team allows for one to meet people similar to oneself, thus great friendships are formed.  “I have made [so many friends] from ballet,” says Clare.

Clare may not get the main roles in any ballet she participates in because the principal dancers land them, but she does receive minor roles.  Her favorite role has been that of “a party girl in The Nutcracker.”  Clare remembers, “being so happy on stage because it was . . . so fun to be [there] with my friends.”  Fun fact: “no one is really that quiet on stage, you might not see it but there is always some kind of conversation,” Clare reveals.  Who woulda thunk?  It seems ballet isn’t truly wordless.

Although ballet is no longer the most popular form of dance, this art form can still cause jaws to drop.  One particularly jaw dropping ballet is Swan Lake by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, which Clare says is her favorite.  Swan Lake, which traditionally does not have the happily ever after of the Barbie version, follows the love of a woman cursed to be a swan and a prince.  “I fall in love with it every time I see it,” says Clare.

Her favorite ballet dancer is Mikhail Baryshnikov and favorite ballerina is Svetlana Zakharova.  If you look them up on the Internet, (I did; I had no idea who they were!) you will see links to Youtube videos that are most definitely worth watching.  These two are definitely spectacular dancers not just to Clare and myself, but to people around the world.  According to Clare, “[t]hey are perfect.”  If Clare could perform in any role, she would want to be Giselle in Giselle.  Snaps for Clare and her amazing second life in which she excels.  Good luck in all of your future roles!