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October 21, 1987 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-21

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Never Say Never
Eleena deLisser/University of Pennsylvania

Almost every little girl dreams of
being a ballerina; floating across the
stage in pink satin, and being able
to stand on her toes. Most, however,
lose interest before their ballet shoes
get dirty. Catharine Clark was the
exception. The 20-year-old University
of Pennsylvania student devoted her
life to ballet, until at 16 she was told
she would never dance again.
Catharine began the dedicated life
of a dancer at the age of 8, putting in
long afternoons at ballet class in her
hometown, San Francisco. As her ca-
pabilities progressed, she sought more
personalized instruction at the highly
acclaimed San Francisco Academy of
Ballet, where she studied throughout
her teen years.
Everything Catharine did as a
teenager was directed towards be-
coming a professional dancer, from
the classes she conducted for children
in her home studio to the high school
she attended that accommodated her
talent, allowing her time to practice
around classes. During her sophomore
year she was given the rare oppor-
tunity to go to Europe for the summer
to study further.
Training abroad was something
Catharine had been preparing and
hoping for ever since she could re-
member. Completion of the program
she planned to attend in St. Moritz,
Switzerland, would add to her pres-
tige and her chances of having a
professional career. "For those who
have what it takes,' she said, "there
was the eventual promise . . . that
would inevitably set you up to go to
a company in Europe."
Catharine's lifelong dream, how-
ever, was shattered when an unfor-
tunate accident changed her life in
every way. Initially the injury seemed
harmless. Conducting a dance class
for a group of five to eight year olds,
Catharine was unintentionally
pushed by one of her young students
during a stretching routine.
"I sprained a muscle in my left leg,
and then after trying to dance on it
in pain, I went to a doctor who put
me on painkillers so I couldn't feel
what I was doing;' she recalls. On
her physician's advice, she continued
to dance. "The doctor told me to take
classes and I ripped the muscles in
my left leg, and sprained some mus-
cles in my right leg," she said quietly.
"I went to a different doctor and they

told me that I couldn't dance any-
Faced with a sudden turn in her
calling and concerned that she was
not being academically challenged,
Catharine transferred from the Con-
vent of the Sacred Heart to prep school
to prepare herself for college. "The
transition was really difficult," she
said. "I cut off my hair and I didn't
know how to deal with academics for
the sake of furthering my education
and becoming a college student."
For a while Catharine's self-esteem
took a plunge. In a lot of pain, she
underwent physical therapy every
day after school for a full year. The
sessions served as a constant re-
minder of the career she had lost. "In
the back of my mind was that the
only thing I really enjoyed was danc-
ing," she said. "I think the hardest
thing about losing something like
dancing is that when you lose it you
are, I don't know what the word is,
but you are 'normalized' or made
mortal in a way. You're not special-
well that's not really true, but you
feel like.that for a really long time."
'Ibday, as a junior at the prestigious
University of Pennsylvania, Cathar-
ine has found a new love-modern
dance. The transition from ballerina
to free-form dancer scratched some
old wounds. "It was really hard when
I started dancing here again;' she ex-
plained. "It made me want to cry, be-
cause I'd look in the mirror and see
that I wasn't what I used to be." Ca-
tharine persevered, however, and now
finds that modern dance in many
ways picks up where ballet left off.
Not only has she learned a new dance

PennDance performer Catharine Clark.
e e
4 4
Take off with the original cast...
and some new civilian recruits as they take
to the streets and the skies to fight crime.
G.W. BAILEY as Capt. Harris BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT as Zed and GEORGE GAYNES as Cmdt. Lassard
Music Composed by ROBERT FOLK Written by GENE QUINTANO
Produced by PAUL MASLANSKY Directed by JIM DRAKE
Available on HiFi Stereo Videocassette. umo
Spanish-Subtitled HiFi Mono VHS Videocassette Also Available.

form, but she has choreographed a
couple of original works for the
PennDance troupe. She says that both
the choreography and the perform-
ance allow her to be creative and dar-
ing. "You don't have to have excellent
or 100 percent turnout," she said. "You
have to feel it inside of you the same
way in classical ballet, but you have
to elaborate much more." 4
Ten years from now, when her col-
lege years are behind her, Catharine
sees herself in an arts management
career. Explaining that she is inter-
ested in "intellectualizing" the arts,
she would like to be the manager of
a performing arts company or the cu-
rator of a museum. Whatever it is,
she will do it with passion. "I think
my biggest fear is not being able to
find the same passion I have for dance
in something else. But I'm working
on it."

C a .t-edpbytheNationalCape(
11987 Warner Home Video Inc.

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12 Fall 1987

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