Jahaan Amin '13, Gap Year
For Jahaan Amin '13, the college search process was about finding the right balance between her passion for dance and her desire to get a well rounded education. Her answer is a gap year, during which she will dance professionally for a talent agency based in Los Angeles. Afterward, Jahaan will head to Loyola Marymount University in LA, where she plans to study psychology.
What will you be doing next year?
Next year I will be dancing with a talent agency in Los Angeles, so they’ll be sending me to auditions for things like award shows, TV shows, music videos, tours…whatever types of opportunities there are for commercial dancers. I’m deferring college for a year because I love to dance so much, and I want to devote my full attention to it for a year and audition for everything that I can. I’ve always had the plan of dancing professionally, because it’s something that I just have to do. But I wasn’t quite sure how it would work, because I also knew that college was in the picture, so it’s just been about piecing together the best way to make it happen.
When did you start dancing, and what is it about dance that you love?
I started shaking my butt when I was two, and took my first ballet class when I was three. Now I mainly do hip hop. The reason that I love dance so much is because when I’m dancing, I feel completely confident. I feel liberated, like I’m myself. It’s a really special experience for me. It might sound cliché, but it’s something that feeds my soul—I feel like I’m in my element and it makes me feel really good about myself.
What’s been the hardest part about growing up with dance?
There are a lot of catty moments and bumps in the road as far as competition among peers in dance. It’s been tough sometimes to not get distracted by all of the behind-the-scenes drama, and that started to wear on my confidence and take some attention away from my art. I’ve had to learn to block that out of my life and really focus on the passion I have for dance.
What is it about hip hop that you like?
No one's ever asked me that before! I think that I like feeling like I’m a different person, because in hip hop you often play characters. Sometimes I look like the meanest person in the world when I dance because I’m dancing aggressively, but it’s fun because I feel like I’m acting. I like the music too—that’s a big part of it—the musicality and the different beats. I feel like the whole style is cool. I try to be make a big part of who I am as a hip hop dancer about being as versatile as possible.
Tell me about the college search process and what you were looking for in a college.
It's funny, because what I was looking for at first and what I ended up choosing were completely different. Originally I really wanted to have a “typical” college experience—I wanted to go somewhere big and fun, with a lot of different things going on. But then right before the deadline I made a last-minute decision to go to Loyola Marymount, which is a smaller institution, because I realized I really liked it all along. I also realized that some of the reasons that I love Bryn Mawr so much are because of the environment, the small classes and the good relationships I have with my teachers. I think I’ll get that at LMU as well.
What will you be studying?
The plan right now is for me to study psychology. Eventually, I would like to be a forensic psychologist. I think I can do it—I’m pretty ambitious.
That’s a big step away from professional dance!
Yes. But what I’ve realized from watching a lot of my friends who are dancers and starving artists is that it’s important to have a back-up plan. Dance is my passion, but I cannot be a dancer forever—and I do have other interests, like psychology. I’m really excited to learn more about it in college. I like being a dancer and being in show business, but I want to make myself as well rounded as possible.
How will you balance dance and college once you start school?
I definitely plan to keep dancing, but it will just be about picking and choosing a little more carefully. My college is about 45 minutes outside of North Hollywood, so I won’t be able to attend auditions for everything. I'll be more focused on my academics, so I’ll choose my battles wisely. I’ll make it work.
Tell me about a class or a teacher at Bryn Mawr who has had a big influence on you.
This is interesting, because I’ve had a pretty different experience here, since I left and came back a couple of times. When I did Broadway I left for the first half of sixth grade, then came back for the second half. And then I left seventh grade and eighth grade and was home schooled while I did commercials and things like that. Then in ninth grade I went to Baltimore School for the Arts.
While I was homeschooled my mom was teaching me, and while my mom is a very intelligent woman, she’s not a teacher, so the home schooling was not up to the caliber of Bryn Mawr. At BSA dance was a priority, but it wasn’t as academically rigorous as I wanted. When I returned to Bryn Mawr in tenth grade, there were a lot of things that my friends had perfected in Middle School, especially with math and science, that did not come naturally to me. So, Ms. Bolz helped me a lot in math to catch up. She was very encouraging and never let me give up on math or think that I couldn’t get something.
This year, Ms. Swyryn has been a really good teacher as far as being very accessible and giving me a lot of resources. Those two teachers have taught me that I can improve, and that I shouldn’t be stuck in the “oh, I’m just not good at math” mindset.
Why did you come back to Bryn Mawr in tenth grade?
It was my decision to return after being at BSA for a year. I wanted to be somewhere that would make me well rounded as a person and give me a good academic foundation. As far as academics, coming back was hard, because I didn’t have the same caliber of skills that my friends who were here in Middle School have. But with the help of my teachers I was able to get caught up. I definitely learned the value of hard work!
What will you miss the most about Bryn Mawr?
I think the school spirit—I’ll miss that a lot—and just feeling like I’m a part of something. I like being able to walk into my teachers’ rooms and get a question answered immediately. I’ll miss my friends, and definitely the Senior Room—that was awesome. I really enjoyed it because over the years there have been people I’ve known, but not really known, and this year when we all went to the Senior Room we started having conversations that I think we wouldn’t have had otherwise. I appreciated that experience—being able to form those friendships with people that I might not have really gotten to know otherwise.
What is your favorite tradition at Bryn Mawr?
That’s an interesting question, because I’m not a very traditional person. I really like anything that brings the whole community together, like the Mawrtian Song or Spirit Day. I just like that feeling of us all being a part of something together.