Greetings from a Fighting Pickle!
UNCSA senior Timothy Thompson describes his North Carolina conservatory and muses on what the future will hold.
Though I go to school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, I am originally from Canton, Michigan (just a few miles north of Ann Arbor). When it came time to make a decision about my educational path, I chose a school outside of my state but not in a major city. I had only been to New York City once, and something told me that I would get lost or become distracted in the bright lights and sounds of the big city.
When I had received my letter of acceptance to School of the Arts - a moment of overlapping joy, surprise, confusion, nausea - I must confess that I didn't know very much about the school or the location. I was told that UNCSA was located in Winston-Salem, and Winston-Salem is where the cigarettes and Texas Pete Hot Sauce come from (amongst other things, of course). I am not a smoker nor do I use hot sauce, but there was something about the program and talking with the assistant dean and the staff that charmed me to this tiny institution.
There are many things I can say about my school, UNCSA. I could mention that our mascot, since the 1970s, has been known as the Fighting Pickle, despite the fact that our school has, to my knowledge, no existing competitive sports team. This is probably because there are only about 1,200 students (including high school, undergraduates, and beyond) who are dancers, filmmakers, musicians, singers, technicians, designers, and actors. UNCSA is an atypical university in that it is a conservatory. Classes begin as early at 8:00am and rehearsals can go as late as 1:00am, so there isn't much time to pursue much outside of your immediate art. This makes for a very intense and intimate setting, and the location of Winston-Salem forces me to focus even more on perfecting my craft. Such intensity can bring about highs and lows, but there is never a dull moment.
Over the years, UNCSA has become a home to me, and it felt fantastic to return for my final year. I walked into the first week of classes in the halls I know so well with my head held up high, feeling like the king of the hill, an upperclassman at last! Yes, it's good to be a senior, but after this first week of classes, I notice some changes in my course schedule. The curriculum begins to take a sharp turn into professional development—preparation of headshots, resumes, mock auditions and interview techniques. I then begin to realize a rather sobering, scary-realistic fact: In another eight months, the home I have made for myself in Winston-Salem will no longer be home. After this year, it's time to move on to the bright lights and sounds of the big city!
So, what plans have I taken to make a smooth transition from college to career? To be honest, I have no idea what is going to happen or where I will even end up after school ends, let alone what job I'll have. The only thing I can do is be prepared for anything. Eight months is a short time. However, I vow to learn as much as I possibly can while I am here. I am surrounded by so many other talented artists and their processes - a community where the citizens perpetually create. So, in the coming months, I hope to share with you, on this little blog of mine, some conservatory approaches and processes going on around me, as well as the things we create.
I can't wait to see what unfolds as I begin the end of my college journey!