Dancer Riley O'Flynn, who hails from San Francisco, has had scholarship support all four years he's been at Juilliard. But on one February Monday, as he scurried from one rehearsal to the next, he had the chance to meet one of his donors, Australian consultant and dance enthusiast Andrew Willoughby. In addition to holding the Andrew Willoughby Scholarship, Riley is also the recipient of the prestigious Princess Grace Dance Scholarship.
Peter Jay Sharp Theater
7:15am In general my day begins somewhere between 7 and 7:30 since I enjoy giving myself some extra time to wake up slowly and make myself a nice breakfast. The menu varies, but there must be—there will always be—eggs.
8:30am Scootering my way down Amsterdam Avenue toward Juilliard, I roll right past Melissa McCarthy as she films a movie. You never know what surprise New York has in store for you!
9am My first class every Monday is Senior Production, taught by the unparalleled Risa Steinberg (BFA '71, dance). The goal is to put us into the mindset of producers and create our very own dance concert (April 21 to 23). Last semester we created a calendar to raise money. This semester, our fund-raiser is T-shirts. We spend the morning finalizing our design and figuring out how many of each size to order. This is one of the few classes where I'm actually in a classroom these days—sitting at a desk has become quite the foreign experience for me as I approach the end of my time at Juilliard.
10:15am I head down to Room 320 to get my body ready for my 10:40 ballet class. When the time comes, the chatter of the dance hallway quiets down and ballet classes begin. On Monday and Tuesday, Larry Rhodes, the artistic director of the Dance Division, is my ballet teacher. The class isn't just a platform through which I can investigate my body and technique—it will also warm up my muscles and prepare me for the rest of my day.
12:05pm Time for a 10-minute break. I often wonder how many bananas—a go-to snack for dancers—are eaten by the Dance Department at this time of the day.
12:15pm Typically, I would have a modern technique class now, but as a second-semester senior, my schedule is constantly changing. Today, we started creating our senior bow with Larry Keigwin, a New York choreographer who has created for Juilliard's New Dances program in the past. The bow is a short piece that we'll perform at the end of our Senior Showcase (May 15), and it will be the last time our class will perform together on one stage. We don't have much time, so we jump right in, gathering as much material as we can.
1:40pm Lunch break—50 minutes where I see just how much food I'm able to consume. And, go!
2:30pm Head to the lobby to meet my scholarship donor Andrew Willoughby. It's wonderful to finally put a face to the name and chat. Although he's not directly involved with the arts, I can see his passion for what we do at Juilliard, and we discuss the parallels between his work as a businessman and mine as an artist. We find a lot of similarities in our ability to understand and connect with others, and while we achieve that connection in different ways, communication is key in both our fields. It's fascinating to see how closely linked these two lines of work can be.
4pm Before rehearsal, I squeeze in a quick trip to the gym with some classmates. I'm motivated by the wise words of Theodore Roosevelt posted on the wall: “Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort.”
5pm My evening rehearsal, for our spring Dances Repertory concert in March, begins. I'm working on Sheer Bravado from British choreographer Richard Alston, and his rehearsal director, Martin Lawrance, is setting it. We learn the choreography by watching an older video of the piece, which is different than creating a piece in person, as we do in the New Dances concerts in December. I often get turned around learning dance this way—having to reverse and change what I see on the video. However, I've come to understand that this is a valuable tool in the dance world as many people use video to teach nowadays.
8pm One last rehearsal for the day. I'm creating a duet for myself and second-year dancer Sean Lammer for one of our periodic workshops, which allow students to present work of any style at four points throughout the year. I've never considered myself much of a choreographer, but I want to push myself this final semester, knowing that these resources will soon be gone. We rehearse for an hour in the Kaufman Dance Studio, one of my favorite places in the school.
9pm Now my day at school is officially over and I make my way home back up Amsterdam Avenue.
9:30pm Winding down, I talk with my roommates as I make dinner. I typically like to change up my meals—but you can bet there will most always be some kind of veggie stir-fry involved.
11pm (well…midnight) I'd love to say that I go to bed at 11 every night—but it just isn't true. Tomorrow is Tuesday, and I don't have to be at school until 10:40am. Senior year is tough, but it does have its perks.