• Ann Marie Schuler

Beantown to Right Now: The crazy-but-not-so-crazy decision to NOT go to college and major in dance

I had decided during my senior year in H.S. that I was going to take a year off before going to college. My brain needed a break. So I spent the summer working and then in the fall one of my closest friends from school invited me to come and check out the college she had decided on to see if I might want to go there instead of the Boston Conservatory. Her college choice? Northeastern University.

So in the fall of '92 I took a train by myself from Des Moines to Boston. That was a long train ride alone. OY! I stayed in the dorm with Jess and we toured the campus, venturing out at night. Definitely, a different world for me to experience back then. I wasn't sure I could handle living in the city. Even though I absolutely knew I wanted to.

The train on the way home made a stop in Chicago, but because I was inexperienced in train travel, I missed my connecting train home and had to take the Greyhound. It was so crowded and there was this nasty drunk dude in the seat next to me, trying to hit on me the entire time. I just kept my nose in my book and my mouth shut. I was never so glad to be home!

The bus ride home made think about the whole visit and came to the conclusion that ultimately the trip didn't change my mind as to which college I wanted to go to. Still planned on the Conservatory. So when it came time for my audition, Pops went with me.

One of the cities they were holding regional auditions in was Chicago, so that's where we went. We were only 6 hours away from the Chi so the plan was to go, nail my audition, stay overnight and then come back. We arrived early enough for me to be able to through my warm up routine, which included vocal warm ups, stretching and going over my monologue. I had 3 different auditions I had prepared for. My Ballet solo for my dance audition, my vocal solo, and my monologue. I was beyond nervous.

As I had finished warming up for my dance audition, I made the mistake of walking by an audition room where someone was doing an AMAZING piece. As I stood there and watched in complete awe, I was then overcome with a fear so great, I froze. I couldn't do it. I couldn't go in. I had convinced myself that if that's what they were looking for then I didn't have a chance in hell. I broke. I cried. I stopped. Then I told my Dad I couldn't do it. I wasn't 'on my leg' (dancer term equivalent to keeping your head in the game). So, we left. I caught my breath. We went to lunch, we stopped at Walgreens and then we drove the 6 1/2 hours it takes to get home. Didn’t bother staying overnight. I was so disgusted and disappointed in myself for not having the courage to push forward despite the voices in my head.

That was it. Done. I had closed a door on a dream because I was afraid I wasn't good enough. I am hyper-critical of myself. I can't deny that. I'm better than I used to be, but it is still a work in progress. Often daily.

So much life has been lived since that day, and I do not regret not going through with my college audition. Who knows where my life would have lead had I followed through, but to regret it would be foolish. How could I? Had I done so, I wouldn’t have two of the most amazing kids! I wouldn't have taught and choreographed at some amazing studios, and I wouldn't have impacted and been impacted by the many kids I have taught over a span of over 20 years. Everything happens for a reason. Everything. We may not know what the reason is at the time, but IN time the reason will reveal itself.

When I was debating on whether or not I could or even should open my own studio at my age (which, by Industry standards is long past a dancer’s expiration date by the way), I prayed.

A lot.

My little studio is now coming upon its first anniversary of being open, and while outside forces are trying to derail what I’m trying to build, I refuse to give up.

The moral of this story is, for anyone who has let a dream they once had go, it’s never too late to go after another. And for those on the cusp of having their dreams realized do yourself a favor, do the world a favor...breathe.

And then…

simply walk through the door and don’t look back.


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