Tag Archives: choreography

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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there’s enough male gaze to go around

I’ve been thinking about my last post, about falling in love with complete strangers just because you’ve seen their ridiculous six (twelve)-pack-of-abs work it out on stage, and you liked it enough to see that same show two more times and then stalk them on Facebook…all in the same week. The more I ponder this and my dying need to be the one lusted after (minus the abs), the more I question if this is all just proof that the male-gaze is alive and well…and unavoidable? – and then I wonder how sick and twisted this natural pattern of behavior actually is.

Dumbledore tweeted this article (then read this article in The New York Times about the competition circuit…some interesting points as well), and it made me think about my entire existence as a dancer (oh the drama of it all) – starting with my studio days.

I remember being 12 years old dancing to “I Gotcha” Fosse style, being asked to gyrate my hips and make a CFM (come *bad word* me) face…
But don’t worry, because I was the youngest performer in the group I wore a pleather leotard and fishnet tights rather than a midriff bearing costume (age appropriate attire, people). We were the award-winning routine throughout all of our regional competitions, and then again at nationals that summer. And that’s what really mattered, right? I’m sure my father thought so too…

Also, how many times have I daydreamed (from the time I was 9 years old to I don’t know, yesterday) about BEING Britney Spears circa early 2000’s…yellow snake and all? I had my first world tour completely planned out at 12 years of age – I had not only drawn my set design (in specific detail) on construction paper, but I had all of my sequinny barely-there costumes sketched out and ready for construction. I would practice my hair and makeup in the mirror (taking photos of Britney’s videos and trying to recreate the looks with my Wet-n-Wild collection) but would then quickly wash it off before my parents could see the inches of makeup and hairspray layered on. I fantasized about being the person everyone else was fantasizing about, and essentially, this delusion translated into my current fantasy about being the modern dancer that everyone wants to work with. Dance Magazine’s top 25 to watch…anyone?

The sick thing is, I daydream through the lens of the gaze…

Sure I spend hours in the studio working on my technique and efficiency, but deep down, I want to perform. I want praise. I want you to fall in love. I want you to gaze, and I always have. Does this really mean I essentially want to be objectified? I can’t tell. Maybe?

Part of me thinks I’m insecure and just need lots of attention.

Gaze at me, bitches…all day.

But the other part of me doesn’t necessarily want you judging. I’m a smart girl, and YOU DON’T EVEN CARE.

I can’t quite figure out if I want to be gazed at because that’s what Britney taught me?—OR if Britney flashing her body with confidence actually empowered my own self-assurance? As much as one can claim they perform for their own pleasure, can it really go unnoticed that they’re essentially putting themselves on display for the benefit of other people? And the people in the audience, they come to fall in love…with you! It’s a cyclic pattern of love, sure, but also a heteronormative gaze-fest that society tells us to not only expect, but also to accept.

At the time, I thought my Fosse moves were merely a means to a successful end at competition, the thing I cared about most. What I didn’t realize however, and I’m positive it wasn’t intentional, was that I was being taught that positive accolades were simply achieved by exploiting my body and even further, my sexuality. Yes, it was adorable to watch 12-year-old me practice her CFM face in the mirror.

Now 25-year old me can’t help but think about how the gaze has literally taken over just about every facet of her existence. I realized this morning that I not only have wrinkles on my forehead, but I have them on my chest as well (WEAR SUNSCREEN, FRIENDS!!!)…AND my hair is starting to turn gray. Does this mean I’m not beautiful anymore? What’s going to happen when I have a full head of gray hair and face full of fine lines?

WHO’S GOING TO GAZE AT ME???  WHO IS GOING TO LOVE ME?!?!? (Relax, I’ll dye my hair and get Botox…just kidding…sort of…)

So much conflict here. I’m pursuing a career that basically revolves around me making a spectacle of myself (I mean, addressing the human condition through abstract movement…of course.), but at the same time, it doesn’t actually matter if I’m on the stage or off, society has made it pretty clear that I have a role to fill.

I’m not quite sure how to fix this situation, I might even agree with Bowen when she argues, “…that the prevalence of the male gaze makes it an inescapable part of our culture and psyches.” Sure I play my part in all of this, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, or even agree with it.

So why do I impose the gaze onto others?—at this point, it’s so ingrained, I don’t even realize I’m doing it. From crushing on beautiful men that I see perform on stage, to telling my little cousin that I love her dress even before anything else get’s mentioned, am I any better off than having a porn-watching marathon just for funsies on a Tuesday. I mean, right?

The more I think and write about how our society has integrated the male gaze into our everyday, the more fired up I become – but really, deep down I know that I’m not going all of a sudden break free and destroy the gaze forever – I engage with it almost daily, and I suppose it’s this exact complacency that allows it to persist.

So I sent a draft of this post to my boyfriend to proofread, like I do with most others…and was so shocked at how passionate he became in response via G-chat. It was like a flood of opinions being thrown at me, until I finally asked him to just write a supplemental post. So I share with you, his take – the privileged (self-aware) perspective of my educated, white, heterosexual boyfriend, Paul.

When my girlfriend sent me a draft of her blog post, I immediately had two thoughts. The first was, Why does she keep talking about my incredible abs? The second thought was about how the male gaze (I just air quoted it, FYI) permeates every aspect of our culture.  If you try and consider the male gaze as the center of a wheel, then one can envision a lot of the related (or even tangential) issues as spokes off the wheel.  I should state that these spokes are sharp as shit and cause me to wonder whether or not I should ever have children.  These male gaze-y wheels aren’t exactly comfortable.  Buckle up kids, as this is going to be a bumpy ride.

The commodification of sexuality is something that is inextricably bound with Nicole’s post about the male gaze.  She speaks about making her best CFM face as a pre-teen, before she even knew what that meant.  Sure, the 12-year old is having a great time dancing around, even if she doesn’t understand the latent sexuality of the choreography.  Unfortunately, this is something that is the exception, and not the norm:

There are egregious examples of this, like a routine at a California competition in 2010 in which preadolescent girls performed highly sexualized moves to the Beyoncé hit “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” But even in less lurid numbers there is often the disquieting sense of children being made to ape pop-culture stereotypes of adult behavior: boys as macho men, girls as sassy flirts. (NYT Piece)

            This is not – I repeat, NOT – exclusive to perhaps clueless Dance Moms.

 Victoria’s Secret came under fire this year with their Bright Young Things line, which many parents claimed were marketed towards tweens.  Yes, your little 12-year old cousin wants to wear pants with suggestive words emblazoned on the bottom.  Victoria’s Secret claims this is marketed towards college aged girls in time for Spring Break.  Camel said the same thing about their cartoon mascot hawking cigarettes.  Obviously not for the kids, right?

I understand that it’s hard for some women to read what I am writing, because my nature precludes me from experiencing this first-hand.  I am, by the definition of some, the exact person who benefits from the white privileged, heteronormative male gaze. (The Feministing post elucidates that there is an element of white privilege in the male gaze, as the writer identifies herself as someone who is outside of the thin, light-skinned “ideal” that is presented in every fashion magazine and billboard everywhere ever.)

When we talk about hypersexualization, violence against women, or even the college culture of hooking up*, it’s not a game.  If it were one, it would be a skewed one.  The house always wins,  and this house is most definitely a house of patriarchy. Except in this game, everybody loses. (I am hiding behind a garbage can while the ladies of Jezebel arm themselves with tomatoes to throw in my direction.)

Check out this recent NYT article, and a counterpoint by Slate.

In our private conversation, Nicole said to me that “…even my gaze is essentially from the viewpoint of a heterosexual male.”  Is she incorrect? I don’t think so.  While we have seen great progress vis-a-vis the end of DOMA and the slow realization that gay isn’t just a trendy thing for Hollyweirdos (sorry, Michelle Bachmann), Primetime television can still seem recalcitrant when it comes to displaying these relationships – especially a gay male couple.  America watches TV, and not just men.  But men don’t want to see men kissing – they want to see women. 

In the 1990s, you saw Ellen kiss Joely Fisher.  You saw Neve Campbell kiss her professor in 1999.  You saw Calista Flockhart kiss Lucy Liu for 21 seconds in 1999.  But in 1994 on Melrose Place, when Doug Savant was going to kiss another dude… well, pressure from an advertiser caused Fox to cut away. 

When I think of a music video, I think of women being paid next to nothing in order to twerk on camera in next to nothing while the rapper/singer (usually, a man) is there fully clothed. In her new single, Miley Cyrus sings (or warbles, if you ask me) about how we own the night, and how we aren’t going to stop partying no matter what.  Except while she does this, she writhes about and makes her own distorted CFM face as she makes out with a Barbie doll.  Hell, Robin Thicke even sings about tearing that ass up in his newest #1 single that your 9-year old cousin sings in the car on the way to church. Here’s Mr. Thicke, himself:

We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, “We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this.” People say, “Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?” I’m like, “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.” So we just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, “Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.”

Because, ladies, the message here is that apparently we can’t help it.  It’s not our fault that women come to our parties and drink our alcohol and wear short dresses. (This is sarcasm. A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend) But then the question remains, whose fault is it?  How did we get to this point?  It’s easy to blame the multi-million dollar porn industry for turning our hearts and minds into depraved, Tiger Woods-style sex fiends who want nothing more than to “choke a bitch” and then produce our own live action “money shots” from within the confines of our own bedrooms.  The problem is that there is no way we can pin this down on a particular issue.  It is a confluence of commonplace misogyny that is tolerated, if not celebrated.  After all, it’s just a song/movie/rap lyric/29 minute porn film involving powertools – if you don’t like it, then you don’t have to watch it, and it won’t affect you… right?

We live in the most progressive country in the WORLD – and yet, even here we have this notion that women do not know what’s best for their own bodies.  We let legislative bodies of old white men – here’s looking at you, Rick Perry, Todd Akin, and the legion of other members of Government who fucking sit in committees dedicated to health and SCIENCE – pass laws that they think will best serve young women. 

We live in a culture where sexting is a thing.  It’s an actual term that people use.  Isn’t that embarrassing? (The term and not the actual notion of sending racy messages)  Our grandparents used to send each other love letters during World Wars, and we choose to send photos of our genitals with a self destruct time limit. In the event a woman feels empowered by taking nude photos and sending them to a romantic interest, there is the risk (or perhaps inevitability) he will share it – be it with his dorm mates, his frat brothers, or the internet.  Snapchat is wonderful because it lets you know that someone just took a screencap of your picture.  Except the second someone takes that screenshot, you’ve lost whatever illusion of power you had.  It is (literally) stripped from a woman when the picture she sent in confidence is displayed on the internet in perpetuity – and embarrassment.  The revenge porn apologist will rationalize his actions, usually by claiming the person who sent the photo knew or, perhaps more brazenly, wanted others to see the photo.  The person whom sent the photo is denied their autonomy as these decisions are made for them. (See: The legislative branch, etc.)  

The male gaze dominates every arena of our daily lives.  It saturates, if not dominates, both public and private spheres.  It is the monsoon that does not concern itself with waves of Feminism.  The old adage is, “If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.” Another one is “Don’t reinvent the wheel.” 

Well, ladies and gentlemen:  The wheel is broken. It doesn’t need to be fixed.

It needs to be burned to ashes and rebuilt from scratch.

Its me again, KapDaddy. So as you can see, the male gaze has the potential to elicit some pretty passionate arguments– what are your thoughts?

To gaze or not to gaze, that is the question.

To gaze or not to gaze, that is the question.

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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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i have something to say

In a world where small-town shootings have become a thing, and you now can’t even run a marathon without worrying that you might not live to see the finish line, what gives me the audacity to think that my interest in a continuum from concert to commercial dance actually matters? I’m struggling to write something that feels so vapid at this point in time, especially knowing that so much turmoil is affecting the world on a daily basis. I mean, I know that since forever there’s always been something threatening the state of humanity—and maybe it’s just a sign of personal growth that I’m just now realizing how heavy life can become when you take the time to lift your eyes up and out of your own ego—but I’m really starting to feel bothered that my personal agenda is not even sort of saving lives, changing the world for the better, or even pushing some provocative political agenda.

 feminism

I’ve always said that I want to somehow make it into the history books one day, but I’m just not positive that my current plan of action is going to end up being that claim to fame –and I sort of worry that I’m just wasting time.

I’m absolutely allowed to be concerned with things other than North Korea blowing up the world someday soon, and it has occurred to me that maybe taking the time to coordinate my glitter has somehow allowed me to cope (and has maybe even helped others to cope) with the reality that our human race is sort of fucked. I know that I don’t need to apologize for liking the sparkly things that I like (…and then writing about them), because day-to-day life still matters (and somebody has to coordinate the glitter, people), but my question has now become…

How long can I actually continue living in a state of ignorant-glittery bliss before I finally figure out a way to use my talents proactively?

I say these things also realizing that I’m not even sure what it is exactly I want to be doing instead—I just know I’m genuinely scared for what’s to come based on the current state of affairs, and I want to do more than just choreograph a flashmob and/or a benefit concert once every few years. I want to get dirty…maybe even arrested for making art that matters and challenges the things that I don’t agree with. I want to know that by the time I’m buried six feet under from either old age or a natural disaster…not because my neighbor decided to experiment with bath salts, that I’ve done something worth celebrating with pride.

It seems like every time I turn around, somebody’s telling me that I need to start trusting myself –I also need to stop waiting for permission to do the things I want to do. So here it is friends, I want to change the world through dance. It’s no longer good enough for me to just make work about something that sucks; I want cancer, suicide bombers, and ignorant homophobes to all feel the wrath of my dance making abilities.

This is just the beginning, folks. Look out, Syria—I may even come for you!

 

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life awakeners

There are three types of relationships in this world – all of them are wonderful (at times), and work to fulfill a specific role in your quest for balance.

1. Relationships with people who share common goals.

Your school friends. The people you go to class with every single day. The people who know when you’re having a good day or not, based solely on what your makeup looks like. The people applying for the same 9897 jobs as you.

Photo: Rebecca Puretz

Photo: Rebecca Puretz

2. Relationships with people who work within the same field, but don’t share (immediate) common goals.

The Dumbledores, Mr. Oklahomas, Ms. Weight Sensings, recent grads, and younger comrades in your life. It’s all the same talk, just at different points along the continuum of (professional) life beyond higher education. There’s very little competition in these relationships because a hierarchy definitely exists (…as in, you’re eventually either receiving advice/letter of recommendation or providing one…) These are also the people who often have to switch hats to accommodate – like professor/turned advisor/turned friend/turned choreographer all within an hour. These are the people I feel the most supported by – they totally understand what’s going on at any given point, and then know just the right thing to say to get me off the couch and into motion. I basically want to be these people when I grow up. Thank you!!!

3. Relationships with people who have absolutely nothing to do with your chosen field.

I know this might sound a bit crazy, so try to bear with me. There are these…people out there who don’t actually wear spandx’y clothing on a regular basis, or who don’t give a flying-F about the concert versus commercial dance Venn diagram. I know…weird…

These are the also people who are like, “Oh, you won that super competitive dance award? Congrats…go take a shower, you smell like an animal.”

Buzz kill. But also…life awakener! (…yes, that’s now a thing…)

These are the people who remind us that there’s an entire world outside of the dance studio, and that it’s okay NOT to be in the dance studio from time to time. When we psycho-Dyvas get all crazy in our heads about these daunting deadlines and artistic goals, we need these people to pull us out and give us a reason to smile (beyond knowing Martha Graham Dance Company will be at Jacob’s Pillow this summer – or Jacob’s Ladder as my family insists on calling it…)

My man friend, the Ethnic Prince (who has been waiting for an honorable mention since I started writing this blog…here it is, sugar buns!) immediately caught my smeye (smize/smeyze…get it?) when the first he thing asked upon hearing that I was a dancer was, “Oh so like, you must study dance theory, and shit?”

YES!!!! And shit!!! No, I am not a stripper! No, I am not on Dancing With the Stars! Yes, I’m totally really smart! DING DING DING!!!

What the Ethnic Prince has taught me is that these “other people” we have in our lives don’t necessarily have to understand what we do in the studio, they just have to appreciate it and value our commitment to it.

America's couple.

America’s couple.

Dear General Society: If you are going to pretend that what I do is a make-believe profession, then you and I are not going to be friends. If you are going to admit that maybe you’re a bit jealous that I can not only tell you about the mechanics of the body (and how it moves through space), but then make beautiful things with those bodies in space, and then articulate in words what I saw those beautiful bodies doing in space…then I’ll definitely consider making friendship bracelets for the two of us. Sincerely yours, KapDaddy

We all need balance, people. We build community that not only shares common interests and values, but mutual support. There are times when it’s necessarily to feel a little competitive with your peers (not like, break their kneecaps competitive, but enough to light a little fire under your butt), times you need to bounce ideas off of someone who’s already been in your shoes, and then there are moments when you need to sit with your other friends and laugh about that one time you got in serious trouble for drinking (…spilling…) pickle juice in the pool when you were eight.

Ding-a-ling-a-ling!!!

Who’s there???

Your LIFE AWAKENER!!!

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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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