Artist of the Week: Olivia Hughes - Where Fibonacci Meets Fouettes
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With a chassé and a waltz, Olivia Hughes, third year math major and lifelong dancer, smashes through the stereotypical idea of an unathletic mathematical nerd. Simultaneously pursuing a mastery of various forms of dance from the classical to the contemporary while working towards her math degree, Olivia plans to graduate this May while also performing in five pieces in the upcoming Fringe Festival.
Olivia grew up “doing everything but hip-hop,” which included tap, jazz, ballet, and lyrical dance, starting at the age of 2. She started performing in, and winning, Los Angeles dance competitions for all categories in seventh grade and did not stop. In her senior year she was practicing twelve hours a week. She claims it was a lot of “stress, but fun stress.”
Upon entering Westmont, Olivia tackled modern dance for the first time, which she fell in love with. She called it “a complete shift [in] my enjoyment of dance, [going from] the story and lyrical to the… [focus on] movement and being organic. It doesn’t have to be much but it can still be beautiful.” She adds it whole-heartedly to her repertoire of various dance forms.
Coming to college did slow down Olivia’s commitment to dance, shifting from a massive part of her everyday schedule to a more casual participation. This shift, however, did not lessen her enthusiasm or love for the art. “It’s a part of my life,” she says. She now finds dance as a large stress reliever, replacing the stressors of schoolwork and the rest of life with the aforementioned “good stress” of moving to the beat.
Although she would “much rather be in rehearsal for 36 hours” than spending that time studying for an exam, Olivia states she “need[s] to dance,” and that dance will always be a part of her life, now and in the future.
Olivia participates in many of the dance opportunities on campus, from the Fall Dance Concert to the various classes and especially the upcoming Fringe Festival. In this year’s Fringe, she will be performing five different pieces: three of which are from her dance class, one directed and choreographed by the Horizon’s Arts editor Sarah Sutherland, and a final solo she choreographed herself. This is a new challenge for her, one she has always planned to tackle but never had the chance to until now.
She describes the process as difficult, moments of organic and natural flow. Sometimes she will be listening to the music and her body will “naturally” want to move a certain way, almost choreographing the piece itself without her mind’s aid. Other times she gets stuck in front of the mirror with an acute case of “dancer’s block.” The process “doesn’t come naturally” for her, but since it has been something she’s always wanted to do, she pushes through anyways.
Olivia invites the Westmont community to come see her numerous performances, and other talented Westmont artists, at the Fringe Festival from April 20th-23rd. Until then, she hopes to get her piece finalized and prepare for graduation.