Once, in my sixth grade science class, my teacher demonstrated to us the concept of intense friction by repeatedly striking a piece of hard steel with a chunk of flint. I remember watching in amazement as, within seconds, tiny shards of the metal were chipped off and sent flying--no longer pieces of steel, but live sparks ready to set their surroundings aflame. They landed upon the charred cloth, and were transferred to the kindling, which they set ablaze. Just like that, we had created fire. We had created so much friction--so much heat--between two objects that a transformation had occurred. And before our very eyes, the friction disappeared, and something bright and lively and beautiful was growing in its place.
Two weeks in, my sophomore year is at the point of combustion. Soon, as happens to so many Stanford students as they enter week three or four of a particularly rigorous quarter, my world will catch fire. There will be too much friction between various extra-curricular activities and academic endeavors and my social life, and I can feel the heat already. But when my world ignites, it will not go up in flames. I don't fear being charred or melted. When my world ignites this year, it will go up in ART; in music notes, in pastels on the chalkboard in Harmony House, in the leaps and turns and lifts and bends of dance. You see, the friction I am exhibiting as I begin my second year here at Stanford, is good friction. It's friction that comes from having too many passions, too many artistic and academic inclinations, and wanting to explore them ALL. It's exactly the friction that any sophomore--any student--should experience and embrace at one point or another, and it's a friction that I could not be more grateful for.
My friction began well before the school year did. I came to campus three weeks before autumn quarter had officially started for the September Studies Arts Intensive Program, Modern Dance: Traditions of Creation. I kicked off my sophomore year living in a freshman dorm and dancing six hours a day with Robert Moses and his company, Kin, surrounded by hundreds of other students in the Arts Intensive and Sophomore College programs who were getting a head start on their artistic and academic pursuits. I challenged myself in tedious rehearsals and felt my knowledge of the dance world expanding as we took class field trips to watch broadway shows, dance film screenings, and open practices at professional studios. I felt my world get a little bit hotter.
The friction increased when the student hip-hop group I belong to, DV8, reunited after a long summer to begin autumn practices early so that we could perform for the incoming freshman at the "Faces of Community" event during New Student Orientation. It increased when the Arts Intensive Showcase and the Faces of Community show were scheduled during the exact same time slot and I had to literally run from one performance to the other. And it increased when school finally started, and I moved into a brand new home, and made brand new friends, and began a set of brand new classes. And then there was my brand new internship here at IDA. If art is a fire, then IDA is the accelerant. The second I stepped into the Harmony House, I wanted to collaborate in some way with every person I encountered. I wanted to take every IDA-sponsored class that was being offered. I wanted to join every single committee at IDA (and I almost did). And now, I stand at the beginning of what is going to be one of the most enriching school years of my life, preparing for projects like the IDA/East Palo Alto Academy high school collaboration, and Danae Hannah's dance work "Storm Coming"--projects that will add even more glorious friction to my life.
I'm one of those people who would rather be overwhelmed than bored. When people comment on my schedule, on the fourteen-plus hours a week I spend dancing, on afternoons spent in the Harmony House, I say that there is simply no way I would rather spend between three and six hours a day than in a studio translating music into movement, or in a classroom teaching others how to do so, or in a cozy yellow room, writing about all of the above. Sure, friction can be difficult. It can be painful, and it can seem endless and overwhelming. But eventually, there is a spark, and something big and bright and beautiful comes into existence and expands. And this year, as the embers of art envelope me, waiting to turn into flame, I could not be more excited. The saying goes, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Well, I'm going straight for the stovetop.