Meet GTA Student Jenna Patton: Theatre and Dance Major!

I have had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Jenna about her major. She is a sophomore B.A. Theatre and B.A. Dance major at Brenau University. Jenna shares her day-to-day schedule, why she loves to dance, and how she realized GTA was the place for her.

What is your major?

Jenna: I’m a double major in BA Dance and BA Theatre.

What does a typical day look like?

Jenna: My days are filled with so much creativity and excitement! On Mondays and Wednesdays, I take Voice and Diction, Film Appreciation, World Dance, History and Musical Theatre, and Ballet. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I take Directing 1, Tap, and Flexibility and Conditioning. In my free time (Free time? What’s free time?) I lead a Bible study, spend time with my Alpha Gamma Delta sisters, read, or get coffee with my friends.

When did you start dancing?

Jenna: I started dancing when I was three and I haven’t stopped since! Growing up, I was always quite the bunhead, and my main focus is still ballet. But I started incorporating other styles of dance into my training in middle and high school, and now of course, college has introduced me to even more styles of dance that I’m so excited to explore.

When did you start acting?

Jenna: I didn’t actually start acting until I came to GTA. Becoming a theatre major with a decision that I kind of made on a whim, knowing that I wanted to walk away from Brenau at the end of my time here with two degrees. Of course, ballet comes with its own sort of acting, mostly pantomime. But now, taking classes like acting one and voice and diction, I’m learning a lot more about the technique behind acting.

What is the best part about having combined majors? 

Jenna: I love everything about it. Firstly, I get to interact with so many different people. I’m not confined to just one group. These majors of mine also go hand-in-hand really well. I have found that there’s a good amount of overlap between what I’m studying in all of my classes. My acting classes inform the characters I play in ballet, and my choreography experience has helped me in my directing class. I may only be a sophomore currently, but I trust that being part of both these majors will make me a very well-rounded artist by the time I graduate.

What is the most challenging?

Jenna: Scheduling for sure. Being part of two fine arts means choosing what you want to be part of at a certain time. I tend to try to plan out my schedules so I have a more dance class-heavy semester, followed by a more theatre class-heavy semester. This takes a lot of commitment and communication between the two departments, with me as the middleman. As the first person to attempt this double major, I’m really hoping to help pave the way for both the Brenau Dance Department and GTA to continue to collaborate.

What do you love about theatre?

Jenna: Oh everything, but especially the vulnerability and empathy it invokes. As an artist, one of my main goals is to be sure that an audience leaves a performance changed in some way. Theatre is so collaborative and creates such a sweet community; you create not just for yourself but for others too. And of course, I found that a lot of my purpose as an artist is to double as a missionary. If I can use ballet, theatre, or any sort of medium to bring people closer to the Lord, that is my ultimate goal!

When did you realize GTA was the right place to be?

Jenna: When I was looking into coming to Brenau, a former GTA student gave me her phone number and was so gracious about answering any questions that I had and giving me all the information I needed to know about both theatre and Brenau as a whole. I realized that her kindness and her friendship were a microcosm of the wonderful community that GTA has cultivated. Everyone is so close and so ready to drop anything to help a friend. I attended a really huge high school, and as much as I loved it, I really desired that small, close-knit family that you find in GTA.

How has the pandemic affected you?

Jenna: This strange and difficult year has affected me in so many ways. I’ve really learned to appreciate the opportunities I have to make art and to be in a community with others. Both the dance and theatre industries are really struggling, but the ways in which people have learned to adapt despite the circumstances are incredible to me. And after attempting to stay in shape throughout quarantine by using my kitchen table as a ballet barre, I will definitely never take another ballet class for granted! The pandemic has also led me to draw nearer to the Lord and learn how to trust Him even more.

What keeps you motivated in your classes?

Jenna: The fact that I have so much to learn. Artists absolutely never stop growing. At Brenau, I frequently feel like a sponge, trying to take in as much information as possible. I’m also so motivated by any and all opportunities to work, dance, and play with my friends. How rare and beautiful it is to have so many passionate, talented people all together in one place.

What is something you look forward to this semester? 

Jenna: The semester, I’m so stoked to be taking part in Gainesville Ballet‘s production of The Wizard of Oz. I will be playing Toto and the Yellow Brick Road Soloist. This ballet has actually been a year in the making! We were about one week out from the performance last March when the university closed due to the virus. I can’t believe we finally have the chance to put this show on stage this April. I’m also so incredibly excited to cheer on my friends in the upcoming productions of Songs for a New World and The Tempest. These casts are full of people that I love and look up to.

Lastly, what is your favorite production? 

Jenna: My favorite musical is, without a doubt, Anastasia. Everything about it is simply gorgeous. But my favorite ballet is unique to my favorite company: Ballet Magnificat! (A professional Christian ballet company located in Jackson, MS.) The ballet is called The Scarlet Cord, and it tells the story of God’s grace for two missionaries in the Soviet Union. It leaves me in awe of the wonder and majesty of our God every time I see it.

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