While many students elect to work out at the gym or go for a run as a physical and emotional outlet, senior Sydney Axelrod opts to practice her ballet techniques in the Brodie Hall dance studio.
Axelrod’s journey into the dance world began at the age of four, when she took her first dance class.
“I [became] kind of hooked and I haven’t stopped since then,” Axelrod said.
According to Axelrod, she continued to dance all through high school, sampling an eclectic mix of styles and techniques.
“I’ve taken tap classes, jazz classes, modern, hip-hop, theater jazz [and] lyrical. I’ve done my fair share of everything,” she said.
Axelrod joined Orchesis as a freshman. She said she later caught wind of the dance department and Geneseo Dance Ensemble. So, she enrolled in a modern dance class and began auditioning for dances, though she said she didn’t have immediate success.
“It took me a couple of semesters of auditioning to get involved in the dance ensemble, because priority goes to dance minors,” she said.
During her sophomore year, Axelrod auditioned for the dance minor, cementing her commitment to the Geneseo dance community.
“I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to commit to the whole shebang,” she said. Ultimately, Axelrod said she decided that declaring the dance minor was best choice for her.
Axelrod continued to perform with GDE and while taking dance technique classes - a requirement to dance for the ensemble - throughout her undergraduate experience.
At the end of her junior year, and after successfully choreographing four dances for Orchesis, Axelrod said she was presented with the opportunity to choreograph a dance for GDE for the fall 2013 semester showcase.
Axelrod described her choreographing style as a balance between traditional ballet and modern movements.
“I tend to choreograph in a style that is very rooted in ballet technique, because that’s kind of my forte,” Axelrod said. “So [my dances] usually tends to be a contemporary style dance that infuses ballet technique … but with more unconventional moments that are not necessarily restricted to technical ballet vocabulary.”
All these elements came together for Axelrod in creating her piece titled “Illusion of our Differences.”
“It was about the endless possibilities of what can happen when we look beyond each other’s differences and realize that we’re all the same and we all work together and love each other,” Axelrod said. “It’s kind of this grand, sappy notion, but it manifested itself in my dance.”
Axelrod continues to perform in the dance ensemble as well as study the art of dance, but said that she is aware that a professional career in dance is most likely not in her future.
A sociology major and conflict studies minor, Axelrod said she eventually plans to pursue a graduate degree in negotiation and mediation. Still, Axelrod said she hopes dance will remain an important part of her life.
“Dance is always a passion of mine and I find it to be a very creative and artistic outlet for myself, so I don’t foresee myself ever stopping,” Axelrod said.