Tag Archives: dancer

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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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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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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feeding your (other) interests

While it’s fun to say I’m a dancer, chances are you’re also something else all at the same time.

“I’m a dancer and a secretary.”
“I’m a dancer and a teacher at a studio.”
“I’m a dancer and a waitress.”
“I’m a dancer and a DYVA”…obviously

You get the point.

I think it’s important to recognize that while there are still a few jobs out there that offer full-time work for dancers (…in Minnesota…), most of us are going to have to find supplemental work to support our passion for the arts. The question then becomes, what is my something else?

If I may, I suggest filling your time with work that feeds your interests while both fulfilling and challenging you as a unique individual. If working at a coffee shop is where you want to be, that’s great…you make that coffee!!! For me however, I’m going to need to find work that makes me feel just as valued and excited as when I finish rehearsal…

So how do you do this? Well…do yourself a favor, and when you’re already busy making your new website, continue to soul search and dig just a little bit deeper. As you discover how/why you make it rain in the dance studio, think of other areas that make you excited enough to want to throw a little glitter in the air.

I’ve talked about the show I produced way back in the day, and well, I love philanthropy and contributing to my community! Maybe I pursue part-time work at a non-profit organization, maybe I find a way to make a career out of producing my own shows? The key is patience; be patient with yourself and with your journey. We know that you (I) love to dance, but somebody has to pay the bills…consistently each month. I can pretend that I’ll be okay not making a regular paycheck, or I can be proactive NOW while it’s still January to pursue opportunities for when I graduate. I may end up working in an office for a bit, but that’s okay because it’s not forever. As long as the work I’m doing feeds my soul, my soul is happy.

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make it rain…online

In this day and age (Hey 2013!!!), is it enough to just dance anymore?  Maybe. But not for me…

Who thought (when they were six years old) that by the time the 2000’s rolled around, we’d by flying? Well, we’re not exactly flying, but thanks to the not-so recent advances in technology, we’re now able to make an appearance overseas without ever having to leave the comforts of our living rooms….jammies…or even kittens…

How old do I sound right now? I swear I’m still in my 20’s…

As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to finding work, self-promotion is JUST as important as quality studio-time. With the internet and social media making the once expansive world teeny-tiny, you can never really know who’s scouting you out (RIGHT NOW IN THIS VERY MOMENT) from the opposite side of the globe; so why would you not put yourself out there?

don't leave us!!!

don’t leave us!!!

There are so many free websites waiting for you to make one of their nine-million premade templates your new online-home; whether it be blog, personal website, or even video channel, there aren’t enough reasons to keep you from showing your face online. Consider this your personal invitation; please join me with an online presence that extends a smidge past Facebook and Twitter!

You can RSVP by checking out one of the following links:

www.weebly.com

www.wix.com

www.wordpress.com

www.youtube.com

www.vimeo.com

I’m not asking you to indulge us in all of your most personal information; I don’t actually want to steal your identity…

I do however want to know what makes you unique in a world of dance where everyone can essentially start to look the same. Even if you’re just starting out, creating a website sort of forces you to identify your niche. What about you is marketable? What are your strengths/weaknesses? When you’re forced to choose the content that essentially represents your “brand”, you quickly start to realize why you’re special, and why your skills are the bomb.com. Exuding confidence is always sexy…right?

Get sexy…Get online…Get a job!!!

Things to consider as you’re creating your page:

Language: Who’s your target audience? The content you choose should represent the people you’re speaking to—keep them in the loop with relevant lingo and an appropriate tone.
Just be honest: People can see right through disingenuous crapola within seconds of hitting “publish”. Don’t alienate your followers by trying to be anything you’re not.
Who are you?: If not your resume, find a way to share a brief bio with your community. Why should people care about you and what you do? This is your page to self-indulge, so…unapologetically Dyva-stomp all over the place.
-Reviews: Now it’s time to share what other people think of your work. It’s like once the hot girl gives the geek a chance, all the bitches want a piece. Not that you’re a geek…
-Multimedia: Now that you’ve shared in words why/how you make it rain glitter, and you’ve shared other people’s descriptions of your incredible rain-making skills…it’s now time to prove it. Post excerpts of work you’ve either created or have been in that demonstrate you’re the shiz.
Apologize: Wait…don’t do that. Never apologize. Be intentional. Be original.

Share: Let us know when your new sites are up and running!!!

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be the OG…don’t steal from the OG

So rumor on the street is that everything’s already been done before…well that really blows, now doesn’t it? What’s a DYVA to do when the glitter she’s all ready to throw has supposedly already landed…years ago…maybe even centuries ago?

(S)HE MUST FIND A WAY TO REINVENT THE WHEEL, duh. You’re right, it’s not broken, but it’s now his/her responsibility to make this (new, cooler, hotter) version of the (dance-)wheel unique and distinctly NOT the original…unless it’s an updated edition/restaging/ummmm…you get the point.

The line between plagiarism and originality (given the circumstance, of course) can be tricky, but it definitely doesn’t have to fall within that gray area of questionable intentions if you’ve not only done your research, but are also smart about your actions moving forward.

Steal my glitter...I will behead you. Just kidding...sort of...

Steal my glitter…I will behead you. Just kidding…sort of…

Inspiration for a new project often comes from a variety of sources and people, it’s then your job as an artist to take said inspiration and use it as a springboard from which new ideas are developed; as in…move far far away from the original version by layering many your own ideas over it. The goal here is to make sure that even the most seasoned and educated eye will have to take (at least) a second glance to realize the similarities.

Make sure to cross check that any glaring light of familiarity to the OG choreographer/writer/designer is neatly suffocated underneath your layers upon layers of Dyva-glitter. Rest assured that somebody will notice, if not the artist themself…and let’s get serious, nobody wants to be known as a cheater-wiener.  Again, take this advice if and only if you’re claiming to be original, if your intent is to pay homage to a choreographer/writer, make it known.

Loud and proud, baby.

As we approach a new semester, lots of new projects will be conceived and it’s so easy to borrow ideas (sometimes unintentionally) from the people you work with on a daily basis. Just make sure to take a step back every so often throughout process to ensure that what you’re “creating” is actually YOUR creation. There’s nothing worse than finishing a project that you’re so proud of and then having almost everyone refer to it as somebody else’s work.

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happy one year anny

So ummmm, well….HAPPY ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!

I cannot believe it’s been an entire year since This is Major started filling your inbox, cray-zay!!! Thank you all for reading my posts every week, thank you for all of your honest feedback, and thank you all for joining the Dyva-army!

I feel like now’s an appropriate time to share a little insight into why I started this blog in the first place…a year in, I guess it’s about time I put out

Note: most of this has nothing to do with dance…some of it does…uhmmm enjoy!

So it was around this time last year that I became obsessed with reading blogs, my favorite blog was The Life & Lessons of Rachel Wilkerson (now inactive), a fellow Spartan that I’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts. I found such a home in her random stories, as they felt so familiar to life I was living in Brockport (…my version was just a little more G-rated…), and in my weakest moments, I found solace in knowing that my path wasn’t necessarily unique—I wasn’t actually alone.

Similar to Rachel, I struggled with my weight for most of my life; when I graduated high school and then again from Michigan State University, I weighed close to 200 pounds, and I could fluctuate up or down 30 pounds any given year…not healthy…

hey me.

hey me.

As we’ve talked about before, my days as a dancer are spent standing in front of a full-length mirror just trying to get better; with this being said, most of my life was also spent under the bribe that if I lost ten pounds (when I actually had 60 to lose), some desired dance-reward would follow.

If you lose ten pounds, you could win a platinum medal at the next dance competition.
If you lose ten pounds, you could even place first overall.
If you lose ten pounds, you could be accepted at x-university.
If you lose ten pounds, awesome-choreographer will cast you in their next piece.
If you lose ten pounds, you’ll get a job with x-company.

Holy hell…why couldn’t I just lose those frickin ten pounds!?!?!??

Well I’ve lost about 50 pounds in total thus far, but so much more than the size of my dance pants has transformed; I finally found my voice.

Hey me, again!

Hey me, again!

Ok, yay for me…let’s bring things full circle, shall we?

I was spending hours of my life reading Rachel’s blog, feeling like we were meant to be best friends…but in reality, this chick didn’t actually know I exist ( and still doesn’t), yet I was changing my life because of her words (…initially…). I started thinking, if this girl could have such an impact on my life, why couldn’t I do the same for some stranger that I would never meet?

We’ve already established that I’m an attention whore…I WANT TO CHANGE SOMEBODY’S LIFE!!!

I wanted to create a blog that was written for my people, people who were experiencing the same things I was experiencing on a daily basis. I wanted to form a network where people from the dance community could not only connect with one another, but with outsiders as well; I aspire(d) to serve as the liaison between our world of concert dance and everyone else. I believe in dance advocacy (I know, I just blew your mind), and I love knowing that my dad can relate to what I’m talking about without actually knowing what I’m talking about (“I’m a modern dancer…I’m a kumquat!”) But seriously, how cool would it be if my review of Jonah Bokaer’s show inspires Ordinary Person to purchase tickets for his next performance at the Joyce?

That would be pretty cool.

So in conclusion, I’ve spent this past year writing posts that are based on real events from my dance life, hoping that something (anything) resonates with your life…even if it’s just the title. I love connecting with people and I hope that at some point you’ve realized through reading my blog that even when you feel the most alone, you’re never actually. Again, I appreciate your support throughout these past 365 days—through the ups and the downs (…sorry about last week…), and I’m ecstatic to see where we go in the next 365!

Happy Holidays! (we survived the apocalypse!!!)

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10 things you should be doing right now…

…instead of studying for finals

  1. Bake. Duh.
  2. Figure out how many layers you can actually wear at one time. It’s cold outside…what?
  3. Start rehearsing a project for next semester.
  4. Brush your cat…and trim her nails…and then pretend to brush her teeth.
  5. Blog… (oh heyyyy)
  6. Stalk Pinterest to figure out what holiday gifts you’re making this year…because you’re a *BAD* (broke-ass dyva)
  7. Lay in your bed and stare at the ceiling…because…well…I’m exhausted, okay?!?
  8. Workout and then paint your nails. (you can’t do ANYTHING while your nails are drying)
  9. Make home videos with your Flipcam. (dance documentation, duh)
  10. And as a last resort…you could always shower   (I know…that was a silly suggestion)

 **Bonus 11.: Fly to Atlanta to visit your bestie whom you haven’t seen in about a year…

just prioritizing...in Atlanta...

just prioritizing…in Atlanta…

Hope this helps! Happy Finals!!!

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