Tag Archives: Arts and Entertainment

When life gives you lemons…

…you sit and pout for about three months before you even start considering the thought of making lemonade. Not to worry, around month four you’ll eventually start to come around…because, get serious…even in November, lemonade is tasty and still easy as hell to make!

Without getting into it, I may have indicated that life post-graduation has been anything but *glittery fun*. The transition from a structured life filled with technique class, an abundance of rehearsals, regular performance opportunities, and even discussions of dance (that don’t always feel like gifts at the time), to a life filled with self-doubt, Scandal, and free time…is hard. Life is hard.

Uhmmm…. (crickets) (…more crickets…)

I’m sitting at month four, and only because I’ve sufficiently met my pouting quota for the year can I reassure you that LIFE IS GOOD — and I mean that genuinely, not in like the…I tell my friends who I haven’t seen in six months that life is great when really I sit in dark corners at night and binge on Nutella because THAT makes things feel better...false version of happiness.

Four months in, and I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that if I want a structured life filled with the things that I love to do, then I need to put my big girl pants on and make it happen — and also recognize that the uncomfortable chapter of transition was, and continues to be a necessary part of the overall journey…and I might as well appreciate it for what it is.

Note: temporary

Had I come back to teach dance, start rehearsals, blah blah blah…without having time to think and reflect on my last crazy graduation-filled semester…I probably wouldn’t have realized the things I truly value in those situations

I like to teach dance, but even more than that, I LOVE to dance myself. I’ve learned that I need to take a challenging technique class at least once a week. I want to sweat, not just organ-slosh…and I want to be intellectually challenged while doing it. When this need is met, I’m instantly recharged and ready to give my students a similarly rewarding class…a class they deserve from their higher education.

I like to perform, but even more than that, I LOVE to rehearse. I love rehearsals…I love spending time with people who inspire me, learning about their process as they create work that matters to them. I value spending time with like-minded artists who appreciate the struggle that comes with the art-making task, but do it anyways…and they do it well. When I pursue my own choreographic endeavors, it’s those experiences that validate my challenges, and help me to keep my chin up.

I like to read about dance, but even more than that, I LOVE to write about dance. When I debated back and forth about ending This is Major, I finally came to terms with the fact that I no longer have any papers due for a grade, and therefore, if not for this blog, I have no real reason to engage in dance writing at all. And if I don’t continue writing about dance, how am I ever going to become the FIFTH American woman….of (Rochester) New York?

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And finally, I love to be mentored, but even more than that, I LOVE those people who mentor me, period. Dumbledore will always have a spot way higher up on the food chain than me…those are just the facts…but after allowing me to flail around and have my tempter tantrum, where I litrally cried about the opportunities she helped me to get, she was still willing to sit in a room with me after and laugh about how awesome/ridiculous/heart-breaking the lyrical face is. (Note: The lyrical face is real.) I’m now able to see all that she (and so many others!!!) have given me, and if wasn’t for that free time in between episodes of Scandal, I may never have figured that out. While I’ll always need Dumbledore to guide me down seemingly random hallways that may or may not have a million dollars waiting at the end (and then she lets me pretend to think it was my idea!) from time to time, mentors are more than just people who give you things…(did you write that down?) I’m now able to see that aside from sitting higher on the food chain, these people also possess qualities that I really admire and aspire to possess myself. These people are the family I’ve chosen for myself — these are the family members who get it, and don’t make you feel like an alien for wanting it — and if I can’t sit in a room without asking them for something, then I don’t deserve them at all.

Even Olivia lyrical faces...

Even Olivia lyrical faces…

I really love this community of dance, even though at times, it feels like the most unstable, selfish community ever. My job as a contributing member however, is to simply just keep contributing. If this is what I love to do, then that’s reason enough to make myself a priority and figure out ways to keep myself involved.

Thinking that the next great opportunity was going to land in my lap right after graduation didn’t necessarily get me all that far…maybe because I’ve been laying in my bed all semester, and it’s hard to tell where my lap actually starts when I’m always horizontal under at least five blankets…or maybe it’s because I’ve been laying in my bed all semester, and it’s hard to tell where my interest/talent/confidence ended up when I’m always horizontal under at least five blankets…it’s hard to say…

Do yourself a favor, Dyva.

  1. Get out of bed.
  2. Apologize for the selfish tantrums — not for feeling uncomfortable. Everyone (but you) knew this was coming…you just didn’t need to act like a six-year old….
  3. Stop pointing fingers. Nobody did this to you.
  4. Figure it out. Write it down, talk it out…whatever you need to do to figure things out. What do you want from all of this? Why did you spend the last few years in a dance studio for all hours of the day? Make the accumulated student-loan debt worth it.
  5. Enjoy your lemonade with a side of glitter.

 

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I miss “being in my body”…

I never really understood what it meant to be “in my body” until I spent almost 12 weeks entirely stationary. Without even realizing, I became one of those other people—one of those people who simply observes others moving.

I became a patron of dance. Gross.

I’ve been sitting at a desk all day, six days a week—and until a recent series of yoga classes, I forgot what it felt like to use my muscles intentionally-to sweat on purpose-to feel my system totally engaged. It felt great, and for the first time maybe ever, I understood what it meant to be truly in my body.

Nirvana bliss…like actually. The boost of serotonin, probably.

(I wonder if it’s possible to become immune to the mood-lifting benefits of physical activity? I say this because I honestly can’t remember a time before this summer when I felt so great from just an hour of stretching and breathing—things I’ve been doing on the reg for years…when the thought of sitting down for even 10 minutes sounded like a glorious, laughable daydream…I don’t remember having this feeling concurrently…) 

I remember realizing a few months ago how important it is for dancers to maintain a practice, essentially understanding, preparing, and then establishing a routine that supports a physically rigorous schedule. What I didn’t realize at the time however, probably because I was entirely immersed in a highly structured environment of class and rehearsal, was that there are a million other ways to engage my body that don’t include tendus. Engaging in activity beyond a technique class may actually supplement the activity of a technique class (not actually mind-blowing).

I realized that part of establishing a practice for life beyond the walls of academia, is realizing how important it is to find balance. Maybe I need to take two yoga classes a week so that I feel present or even interested in taking any sort of dance class –maybe I need to be coached through breathing exercises twice a week so that when I’m x-rolling across the floor, I can find the purest/safest/most efficient level of engagement on my own.

Here’s the dilemma in this not so impressive realization: after exchanging messages with a friend (a fellow Brockport dance alum) via Facebook, she pointed out how sometimes taking a step away from the studio for a bit can actually draw you back to the studio in a serious way. It’s sort of like in any twisted relationship, you never truly realize what you had until it’s gone—and sometimes you have to take the risk of letting it go so that you can eventually have it back forever.

The problem is the lack of dance classes offered now that we’re out of school. There are actually 78965 yoga studios in Rochester, but maybe 2.75 dance classes (if that—worth attending…) offered to adults.

No thank you, jazzercise…zumba, I’m even looking at you. I don’t want to bouncy step-touch while shimmying to the right and then to the left, just to say I’ve “danced” this week.

I want to feel my organs slosh around… and all those other imagery-related activities that sort of piss me off…I WANT TO DANCE.

After spending years being told that I had to take x amount of classes each week, it eventually became an obligation—now that there’s a lack of classes even available, it’s all I want to do.

(Note: I also don’t want to be in a mom’s tap class. I am not old enough to want to Boot Scootin Boogie around the stage in black slacks and a white t-shirt…)

So I guess there are two morals to this post.

  1. Find a supplemental practice that allows you to feel your body in ways that dance can’t. Trust me, it’s great.
  2. Where the hell are all you adults dancing? Help…
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can’t help that i love to love

After three weeks of not posting, I share with you this:

I feel like the following disclaimer should be placed in all dance programs:

CAUTION: You will fall in love

Ordinary people become extraordinary once they hit the stage, and somehow normal people that…

A. you aren’t actually attracted to (with the rare exception every so often)

and

B. don’t actually mean anything to you

…become incredibly appealing, and all of a sudden…before you’ve even realize it’s happened…

You’re in love.

Raw passion put on display is striking. It’s self-indulgent to a point – for everyone involved – and you can’t help but feel turned on by it. Right?

There’s something about the context of performance that sheds serious light on people that you wouldn’t otherwise be interested in, not even a little bit. (again, there’s always one…)

I have three thoughts after making that statement:

  1. I can’t even tell you how many shows (movies/concerts/plays) I’ve left convinced that I’m soul mates with one of the performers. I know it’s coming even before I purchase my tickets, I will fall in love with somebody in costume.
  2. How many people are in love with me after they seen me perform? (…)
  3. Why does it take a fourth wall to get people loving on one another?

It’s almost something I insist upon when going to see a show. I must walk out fantasizing about one of the performers. Since I was little, Baby-Kap always had big dreams of dating a superstar…now the term superstar is all relative the performance of the week. The problem is, Grown-up Kap still hasn’t figured out that the person she’s fallen in love with on stage isn’t necessarily the same person out of the spotlight.

Here’s the thing to remember…

Performance isn’t real.

The person I see on stage (even the person I portray myself) is not real. It’s an idealized version of some character a choreographer dreamt up one day, even if it’s just a romanticized version of that person themselves. What you’re seeing is an outward demonstration of someone excelling full-heartedly at something that they love. Even better when it’s something you’re interested in as well.

it's all fun and games until somebody falls in love...

it’s all fun and games until somebody falls in love…

As my girl Stravinsky says, when the lights come back on at the end of a show, it’s like the lights coming on after last call — the rose-colored glasses are fine for a while, but eventually they need to come off.

Reality is waiting, and it doesn’t actually look so bad. Trust me.

Here’s to love.

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just be somebody

I’m sitting here in my little cabin in the middle of the woods, essentially completely cut off from the rest of the world – not much time for social media, and no TV in sight – I actually have no idea what’s going on in the real world unless Twitter tells me in the five minutes I scan it upon waking up or right before I go to bed. With that being said, there’s a ton going on in this little festival-bubble of mine, that I ALMOST don’t miss feeling connected…almost…

(Again,…you’re just going to have to use your context clues to figure out where I am, it’s not too hard to guess…)

I’ve been living/working here for about a month now, and have yet to see a lick of dance. It’s time. I couldn’t be more excited for the Festival to officially start this weekend, because that means I can actually take a step away from my computer – where I spend far too much time writing about dance – and finally get to see some of the biggest names hit the stage. So excited!

With the Festival right around the corner however, I’m starting to find a whole new batch of nervous energy. While I officially feel settled in, my job description will drastically change in just a few days, and essentially, I have NO IDEA what I’ll be doing. It almost feels like I’m completely starting over…again.

I’ve written what feels like a million press releases. I’ve sold over the phone what feels like a million tickets. We’ve been having seminar after seminar about a million different things, like how to give a historical tour, how to schmooze with difficult patrons, how to market a variety of dance genres…you get the point. In some ways, it feels like these past few weeks have merely just been spent revving up for the big event…it probably feels that way, because that’s EXACTLY what’s been going on. These past four weeks have simply been rehearsal for a ten-week festival that’s right around the corner.

Holy shit. A *ten-week* high-pressure shenanigan!!!

As you all know, I’ve been known to have a little performance anxiety. I’ll nail it during every single rehearsal, but I ALWAYS get a little nervous when the lights and an audience are added to the mix. This whole situation feels far too familiar, yet so so different all at the same time – I’ve prepared for how many shows in my life?…but nothing like this!

Let’s just put a few things out there really quickly,

  1. I just graduated with my Masters.
  2. I am 25 years of age.
  3. I am an intern…a MASTER INTERN…if you will…
  4. I am more than capable of doing this job well

Why the hell am I so nervous?

Because I’m still a little too high-strung for my own good, I’ve recently received two generous pieces of advice (from some serious VIP’s) that lately I’ve been leaning pretty heavily into – wanna hear them?

1. Know that you have a little, purple, velvet bag stored away in your back pocket at all times. It holds all of your successful experiences, and anything else that makes you feel confident. Whenever you’re not feeling so great about something, reach into that bag and know that you are somebody.
**The Dean of The College at Brockport gave me this little nugget of glitter earlier in the semester. Right after I walked across the stage at graduation, she handed me an actual purple velvet bag. This bag is the bomb.com

Get your own bag, this one's mine!

Get your own bag, this one’s mine!

2. When you walk into a room, lift your head high, puff out your chest, and put your shoulders back. Be somebody.
**The Artistic Director of the Festival here recently shared the story of when she met Mr. Arthur Mitchell for the first time. This is what he told her upon walking in the room.

It’s that simple. All you have to do is wear a confident posture, and
BE SOMEBODY.

One of the first things we were told upon arriving here was to embody a duck swimming upstream. Stay cool, calm, and collected up top, but paddle like hell whenever/wherever anybody’s looking.

Sometimes you have to fake it ’till you make it. Sometimes you get on stage and your music simply just won’t start (until Mr. Oklahoma runs on from the audience and fixes your speakers for you while you’re fumbling around, trying to do the dance in silence) (…not that that’s ever happened to me…)

Sometimes you forget a really important person’s name, or you stutter, or you forget your own name as you’re talking to a journalist from The New York Times.

This is showbiz, kids.

Preparing for a festival is a lot like preparing for a performance. It’s also incredibly different. Duh. Either way, the show goes on, and you roll with the glittery-punches…that sometimes hurt an awful lot. We all have good days and bad, but preparation is key, and so is your attitude.

I leave you will this screenshot of a conversation I recently had with Dumbledore. Work hard and good things happen.

my 15 minutes

my 15 minutes of fame

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master of dance

Well, friends…as of a week ago, I’m officially a Master of Dance.

Master KapDaddy, that is.

So much has happened since I moved to Brockport three years ago…

  • I learned how to have an opinion
  • I learned about dance analysis
  • I found my faith
  • I lost two of my grandparents
  • I learned how to not be a good long-distance friend
  • …by learning how to become a good long-distance friend
  • I adopted a kitten
  • I danced for two professional companies
  • I was awarded distinguished honors through the University
  • I turned 25
  • I finally started to identify as an adult
  • I danced and presented work at the American College Dance Festival
  • I also danced and presented work at the inaugural Rochester Fringe Festival
  • I learned how to boil noodles
  • For that matter…I learned how to actually cook real food…
  • I stopped calling Michigan home
  • I learned how to stand up for myself
  • I’ve maintained a (just about) three-year-long-distance relationship
  • I learned how to accept small victories
  • I guess that means I also learned how to fail
  • I learned how to forgive
  • I performed at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
  • I witnessed my favorite undergraduate professor retire
  • I discovered how delicious vegetables can be if you simply roast them in the oven

I started this blog

...context clues...

at a crossroads, it appears

I know that deep down, I’m still me (KapDaddy from the block), but although I may have the same exterior, things on the inside have definitely changed.

I’ve realized that up until now, most of my life has been spent striving for something –usually something someone else has recommended. I always considered myself to be a proactive type, but really, I was the most reactive person ever to walk the face of the Earth. Mr. Oklahoma often says in his technique class, “…just try it on…” I guess you could say I’ve tried quite a bit on since moving to New York, and three years later, I’m just flat-out tired.

I’m sitting here in Becket, MA writing this post, trying to decide if I ever want to experience FOMO ever again in my life. (I just felt it about five minutes ago when I noticed a close friend got a gig that I wasn’t invited to participate in…) Do I even get a choice? I feel like the only way to avoid FOMO is to live life with clear intentions; well my intentions happen to be a little blurry at this point, probably because my perspective is a little blurry. I’m pretty sure the logic of these sentences may even be a little blurry.

The good thing about spending 25 years unsuccessfully trying different personas on is that I’ve been able to distinguish quite clearly what fits well enough and what just isn’t me. I was always taught that you teach people how to treat you…I guess I never considered that you learn to care for yourself based on the way those same people actually end up treating you…or at least I did. I’ve learned, or rather, I’m learning to accept that just by being, I am enough. I never have to try anything else on if I don’t want to –I don’t have to strive anymore.

I know that graduating can oftentimes feel like such an overwhelming landmark for change–hence going to grad school straight out of undergrad in hopes that I wouldn’t actually have to grow up. Puh! I guess now I view graduating as beginning rather than end, maybe even a marker of all that I want to pursue for myself. In some ways I feel as though I’ve just recently started to figure out what it is I actually want…who I want to be…where I want to be…

This Is Major has allowed me to share in the ups and downs of life as a dance student in higher education. While I’m still a dancer, and I’m still engaged in higher education, my goals for this blog will inevitably reflect my shifting perspective.

Oh…public service announcement, I’m staying in Rochester to teach next year!

I want to make a difference. I already told you guys, I know. But I like…really want to do things with my life that matter. As I spend the next three months in the Berkshires writing press releases and hosting journalists as they view incredible dance performances on two of the most historic stages in the country (put the puzzle pieces together, people), I want to figure out how exactly I’m going to change the world. I don’t want to simply make a difference – I want to make a substantial difference. I think I want to intentionally empower people through dance.

So vague, I know.

I share this with you, because this is a community of support…is it not? I’m planting the seed, and you’re all here to witness the growth. Here’s to new beginnings. I have no idea (today) what’s going to come, but I’m optimistic that it’s gonna be good!

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things i ponder whilst writing a thesis

Literally in the midst of my last week of graduate school…thesis writing…whirlwind of a life…(that is, before starting an internship in two weeks…)

Thoughts I’ve had/Things I love

*Listening to music in my car and seeing pedestrians walk on beat.

So Dyva.

*Happy-accidents in the choreographic process.

I’ll keep that.

*Music that has a BADWL

beat any dancer would love

*Dancers that choose not to engage the fourth wall.

I see you too.

*Spontaneous contact-improv moments out in general society.

Ready to fall. Fall on.

*Backup dancing to the 8 measure musical breaks in karaoke jams.

Air guitar anyone?

*Seeing site-specific work as I walk around campus.

This fire hydrant is my stage, bitch.

*Casually walking around in spandex as if it ‘aint no thing on a Tuesday.

Just following a dress code.

*Getting serious attention from my dance friends when I’m not wearing spandex.

Yes, underneath all that sweat and lycra, I’m actually a pretty girl.

*Realizing that my grade depends on the efficiency of my plie, not long-division timetables.

I win.

Anyone else?

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David Dorfman Dance is Delicious

I want to be a Dorfman. There, I said it.

And not just because they sang Happy Birthday to me at midnight on my 25th, and then again in class a few hours later…although, that definitely didn’t hurt the case…

I wish that someday I'll become a DDDancer...

I wish that someday I’ll become a DDDancer…SO ADORFABLE!

In the meantime however, I’ll have to settle for being a Dorfable (Get it? Like, the Isadorables…I’m a Dorfable…whatever…)

David Dorfman Dance took over the department last week, teaching various technique classes, participating in a few round-table discussions, and presenting their most recent work, Come, and Back Again.

Given the fact that I have a not-so secret crush on Mr. Oklahoma (the self-proclaimed [and I quote] “…perfect combination of all the Golden Girls”) and Kendra Portier (see her here as #2), I sort of knew before the week even started that I would love this company’s residency. (And now I love Raja and Whitney too!)

(You should also know that I did end up telling Kendra in person – over wine and cheese – that I loved her…that sort of sounded way more romantic than it actually was…kind of…)

Anyways…to be honest, I wasn’t too familiar with the history of the company, having only ever seen one or two video recordings of the same few pieces—so I didn’t actually know what to expect from their new work. (Lay off me, I’m still sort of new to this world of concert dance…) I did however have a pretty good feel for their aesthetic, as Mr. Oklahoma is one of Brockport’s own—and I recently had the pleasure of performing in his latest show, which was as we all know by now, an experience that I loved with my whole heart. I’ve also taken class from a few former Dorfables (see #5 here), and have yet to leave any Dorfman-related experience uninspired.

I’m not mad.

So let’s just get it out there (once again), not only do I lust for DDD, but I love DDD. Do you hear me, David Dorfman Dance? I love you. I will never not know the history of your company ever again, pinky promise.

Ok, sorry…back on track…every moment of this performance was alive; the vigorous movement vocabulary shared by all of the dancers, even David Dorfman himself, was executed with incredible confidence and ease. It was evident in their performance both on the stage and in the studio that each dancer has an unwavering sense of self –  this was extremely humbling to witness.

The “point of aliveness” is where this company’s work lives; that point where none of life’s little variables actually matter—but where you must take action NOW to stay alive…yeah, that’s what David Dorfman Dance does best. David gave the following example (a rough quote) when describing this particular quality: You don’t slow down to put your fancies on when your house is on fire, you get your tush out of that house regardless of what your hair looks like! Now MOVE!!!

There was such honesty within each dancers’ performance, as so much of their work relies on not only a shared experience with one another, but with a million other aspects incorporated into the production as well. Somehow Mr. Dorfman managed to integrate various multi-media sources, live sound, text, and props (including a little paper doggy) into this one show, and it all worked.

Talk about interdisciplinary collaboration.

I can say with full confidence that this was one of the few times I’ve witnessed a work with text that hasn’t totally pulled me out of the performance; it was actually incredibly moving, leaving many of us (myself included) a little misty-eyed…dangit. There was something about hearing the dancers call each other by name that really allowed me to buy into this world of (eventual) mortality, a reality that we will all inevitably face at some point in time—their experience just seemed so genuine (all because of a little name calling, I presume). Oddly enough, this specific world – despite a death’ish tone – looked sort of fun…is that weird?

I often find myself getting so wrapped up in the experience of any company that visits for a residency, and I always convince myself that I want to be part of it, even if I know it’s not for me (…slut). But like I mentioned earlier, I still feel sort of new to this world of concert dance, and somewhat naive to what and who’s out there making work with a value set that aligns with my own. I can honestly say now however (as I may have indicated once or twice), that this company is what I want my future to look like.

I want to be affiliated with a group of people who values learning every person’s name in the room within ten minutes of starting a master class, that has managed to find the balance between athleticism and grace, virtuosic and ordinary, but most importantly – a company that creates work with an agenda that matters. David Dorfman Dance doesn’t shy away from the politics of dance performance, and I love that they never apologize for having an opinion.

Sorry I’m not sorry. Now go do your homework, and check out their website.

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the inner circle of concert dance

So open disclosure, I’m totally going through my quarter-life crisis right now…as in, one of my friends cut out a magazine article the other day about how to survive a quarter life crisis…before I ever actually came out and said anything about going through my quarter life crisis. This is my life, friends…I’m turning 25 in a few days…it’s officially the beginning of the end…

So with all of that being said…

The more people I meet and the more work I do within the world of concert dance, the more I realize how small that world actually is. In some ways, it’s extremely reassuring to know that the inner circle is actually somewhat attainable, and that it’s all essentially just one incestuous pool of love and talent…that is, once you make it into the inner circle.

I feel like the few opportunities I’ve had in the past few months have demonstrated the potential for all that this incredible world has to offer, and as I mentioned a few weeks ago…I now know that I really do WANT IT ALL! The thing is, I sort of feel like I’m standing on the peripheral (the wings, if you will…), impatiently witnessing all of the fun, not quite included yet…but closer than some…and hissing at anybody that threatens my potential spot a few years down the road.

Sometimes I wonder (okay, lately I’ve been consumed with wondering…) if once I’ve graduated there will actually be room for me as a contributing member of the love/talent pool of incest? What opportunities are going to be around when I’m no longer engaging in residencies and faculty repertory classes within the Brockport bubble, but rather, I’m just one of the other 200 white, female dancers showing up to an audition?

I haven’t even graduated yet, and I already have some serious professional-dance FOMO.

mind if I join you po-mo'rinas?

Mind if I join you po-mo’rinas? (AKA…Can I play???)

Here’s the thing, it wasn’t even two weeks ago that as I sat in Dumbledore’s office discussing my future she said, “Nicole, the world is yours. How exciting!” …Is it though?

I have been incredibly blessed while at Brockport and have had numerous opportunities to perform and embrace the world of concert dance for all that it is, and I truly have nothing to complain about. Sometimes though, I can’t help but wonder if there really is a seat for me at the round table of real-life dance. The question as of late has become, why do I feel so incredibly threatened by just about everyone? How competitive is it really going to be to find work once I’m up against all the other “Nicoles’ from all over the country?—and what about the up and comings? Where will we all fit???

I will say that I do have a few enlightened moments from time to time as I work through this awful and uncomfortable QLC, when I not only sort of see things clearly, but I think I can see the glitter in them as well. Even as I type this, I have to remind myself that success is all relative to how you choose to define it, and that there will be room for me at that round table…when the timing is right. My job now (…as a student) and in the future (…life post graduation) is to stay true to myself while I continue to work hard.

The good news is, there is only one me in this world, and as long as I “do me” well, nobody else can compare.

Good things happen to good people, and if I’m spending my days wishing for every other dancer in the world to slip on ice…then I’ve pretty much wished some inevitable trouble upon myself. Competition does not have to exist if I choose to engage my mental energy in other, more constructive ways…like fostering healthy and supportive relationships with those dancers (not slipping on ice) as we engage and establish our own inner-circle of sorts. These people who I worry about taking my spot one day may actually, and probably eventually, create new spots for me to fill…again, when the timing is right. The world of dance is small, yes…but it’s only exclusive if you choose to perceive it as such.

The fear of missing out will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if and only if that’s what I choose.

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you want me to eat my food off of a plate???

How many times have you heard in your life, “integrate X-activity into your practice”…

Mmmmmm by practice…do you mean…show up two minutes before class starts with just enough time to take my shoes off…and then run out of the room right after class finishes to not think about any of it again until…the next class two days later?—oh, while also making sure to eat an abundance of Fritos and chocolate truffles while running to and from the studio?

Yes? No?…wait, really…No?

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until VERY recently that I started to figure what all this “practice” hoopla is about…and through pragmatic research, I’ve decided that it’s not in fact a hypothetical thing that artsy-artists just say as one more way of isolating you from feeling legitimate. In fact, how many times have those artsy-artists made you feel like the biggest fraud ever for not actually understanding what it means to feel connected into the earth?

Ummm the floor is in the way, guys. I don’t care how hard you practice, the floor is definitely in the way…

So I say…screw the artsy-artists, I’m here to tell you from one Dyva to another, that you too can have a real-life, legitimate practice. You (yes, you!) can regularly engage in a series of activities that not only make you feel confident to throw glitter all over your kinesphere, but you can engage in activities that actually prepare you to go ham with your glitter without ever having to risk pulling a hammy (did you actually follow that logic?). Sounds like a win-win, yes? Yes.

As my performance opportunities have increased in the past few months, I’ve really started to identify what I need from my body to feel available and prepared for a successful performance. I can eventually find a comfortable groove to live in once I’ve hit the stage, as long as I know that I’ve primed both my mind and my body–especially when I’m nervous (as I seem to turn into a clammy mess of emotions).

Performing with Red Dirt Dance

Performing with Red Dirt Dance

For me, my practice starts first thing in the morning; I know that if I don’t sit down at the kitchen table and eat my breakfast off of a plate, that the rest of my day is a lost cause. If I can’t slow down long enough to feed myself like a human being, then all sense of balance follows suit, and I can pretty much kiss a grounded performance goodbye.

Other things I need?

  • Healthy food that doesn’t make me feel bloated (I’m looking at you, dairy!)
  • A good plank and a downward dog
  • Some leg-swings
  • Several plies
  • Lots of standing roll-downs (…the official name, I’m sure)

…and finally…

**I MUST balance on releve on either foot while singing, “Whistle” by Flo-Rida. I do not step on stage without this final exercise being accomplished successfully. I have never been so serious in my life. (…please excuse the crude lyrics and images…I can’t really explain the appeal…it just is what it is…)

So that’s my list for performance needs, but even for class I require a little maintenance. Attending class regularly is a practice in itself, but my curiosities should always be alive to be truly invested and engaged in the material (even when I’m not in the studio under the guidance of a teacher and their syllabus).

Technique class is my version of a scientist’s lab, blow shit up and don’t worry about being on good behavior until the science fair eventually rolls around.

I think one of the most important parts of engaging in a practice is to first allow yourself to be humble. Practice makes perfect is a grossly summarized version of my mantra…or at least what I want it to be:

Practice makes failure. Failure makes progress. Progress is perfect.

Until the next science fair rolls around (or lets say, my next performance in April), I’ve got to stay committed to taking unapologetic risks in class. Not succeeding one day doesn’t mean I fail forever, it just means that I have a new goal to work towards. That’s exciting.

What do I need to feel successful in technique class?

  • I can’t be too hungry or too full.
  • KapDaddy must visit the potty. I know I’ll have to pee, I always do.
  • I’ve got to turn off all technology at least 20 minutes before class so that I can focus my energy away from the distraction of social media and back in towards my body.

Seriously though, who can concentrate on undercurves with a raging case of FOMO? Not this Dyva.

I hate to say it, but *knowing that I have a practice and then *owning that I have a practice sort of makes me feel like an artsy-artist. But don’t worry, not the annoying kind…the floor is definitely still an issue…

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why i love to dance…again…

I feel like you should first know that about six months (or so) ago, I had a little chat with Dumbledore about my decision to eventually (sooner than later, actually) transition away from dancing into purely dance scholarship. I can remember thinking that dancing was no longer satisfying, but rather an added source of anxiety; I also knew that I love(d) to write, so maybe I was just meant to be the next incredible dance historian…maybe I still will be…but because of this show however, I now love to dance again.

Let's dance...forever!

Let’s dance…forever!

I feel like (still) not having experienced life outside of an academic setting, I was tired of feeling like I needed to perform for a grade, and that my curiosities had become complacent because I was purely dancing to fulfill a list of expectations as listed out on some class syllabus.

And then Mr. Oklahoma, the Artistic Director of Red Dirt Dance asked me (without actually asking me) to dance in his show, and then surprisingly, things started to quickly turn themselves around. I remember feeling so nervous at our first rehearsal back in November …even though I had spent (and continue to spend) a fair amount of my day, every day with this man. It was essentially my first time out as a not-student working as a professional alongside a professional (a professional who has David Dorfman on speed dial) for a professional gig…

As we continued to rehearse two pieces together, a trio and a solo, I found myself rediscovering why I ever loved to dance way back when I was five.

  1. I sort of get to do the “lyrical-face”…yes, you know exactly what I’m talking about—and we all know po-mo dance rarely leaves room for “facials”.
  2. I was involved in a process that demanded my full attention and creativity on the spot. I was finally being treated like a professional…because, well let’s face it…I’ll be 25 in two weeks, and I sort of am a professional.

So once I adjusted to this new role, I decided to wear my hat as a working dancer with pride and enthusiasm. This process has been challenging, but so so fulfilling.

And guess what Dyvas and Dyva’men? I’ve redecided that I want to dance for the rest of my life!

P.S. Come see this show this weekend, it’s incredible!
P.P.S. The flashmobs were also incredible…and incredibly rewarding! A grand total of five…count them, FIVE not-mobs took over campus yesterday, and it was glitterific to the max!

 

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