The Columbia School of General Studies offers undergraduates courses for nontraditional students, such as dancers. Peter J. Awn, the school’s dean, calls them the best risk. Jacquelyn Reyes is an example of such a dancer. She knows that ballet is all about pushing the body’s boundaries. “I thought it was time to push my mind” she said. “There’s always an expiration date on dancing, and the mind is basically limitless.” Ms. Reyes became one of many several dancers in the school this fall. Thirty years ago, it was quite common for promising dancers to join companies even without high school diplomas. The new generation, however, believes that education matters, no matter the sacrifice.
Mr. Awn stated that the dancers are taken “dead seriously.” “Dancers love that” he explained, “because they transfer their discipline and creativity to their intellectual engagement.” Awn refers to the honor society as “tutus and Uzis” because “it’s all dancers and kids from the Israeli military who, in a curious way, share a similar kind of discipline.”