Tag Archives: Michigan

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

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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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feels like home to me

Moving home for the summer is definitely not an easy adjustment to make overnight, and while it’s commonly overlooked, I think it’s more than deserving of some recognition.

First of all, it’s hard to go from working like a maniac for nine months out of the year, to then all of a sudden in a matter of days be expected to go back to functioning like a normal, valuable, contributing member of society (or at least pretend to be).

But…then reality sets in (…apparently for me, reality’s been on a two-week delay…)

What, I have to go get a job?…but I’ve never worked anywhere that’s not dance related!!!
What, I’m not going to be taking dance classes for the next three months?
What, I’m not going to see my friends for at least 12 weeks?
What, I have to keep my parents in the loop as to my whereabouts at all times???

Whatthe hell?!?!?!

I always feel like such an alien when I come home, even when it’s just for a long weekend. Most people from Michigan don’t know or understand what I do in NY, and while I know that they care about me, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they care about the advancements I’ve made in my movement efficiency (oh hey there release technique!). Most importantly (according to my family), the hardest thing to understand is how my work in school will ever lead to a well-paying job, or even (gasp!)…a career?!?!?

Mom & Dad

Mom & Dad: “Show us how you twirl!”

While I can muster up an impressive handful of reasons to justify what I ‘do’, when nothing I can offer offers enough legitimacy for wanting to major in dance, the people who don’t understand are likely the people who will never understand, and frankly, that’s not my problem.

It’s tough to go from an environment where you’re told to “slosh around” on a daily basis, to an environment where you’re asked three times in a day what you want for dinner, why you refuse to wear real clothes, and what time you’ll be home.

Dear Mom and Dad, my schedule is comfortable, your schedule is not. Also, you should know that I hate showering. Sorry I’m not sorry.        Love, Nicole

Again, I think it’s more than necessary to validate the struggles of moving home for the summer, so here are a few words of confidence that those struggles are real, and they suck. Consider this validation-post a shield of glitter and rhinestones to take with you as you embark on the oblivious terrain of summers back at home.

So when you find yourself laying in bed at 3pm (…this is my life…) actually wishing for a treacherous paper assignment from Dumbledore, or even an assignment exploring Laban effort qualities…essentially a PURPOSE in life…just trust that you’re not alone, and that there are a million other dancing feet out there in the world feeling the exact same way.

(And when you’re truly fed up with trying to explain what ‘you do’, go ahead and send this link out to anyone that needs a friendly reminder of why and how dancers rule the world. Thanks Huffington Post!)

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what do you want to be when you grow up?

This is probably the most FAQ for dance majors, and it is pretty F(requent).

I quite often cross through the border at Canada when I travel home to Michigan, and then back through when I return to New York. Interestingly enough, the Border-Patrol man always (without fail) questions my story; why would a young girl be traveling alone through Canada from Michigan to New York?

My trembling voice answers him (hoping and praying that they don’t stop me and confiscate the wine that I may have a habit of smuggling back from Traverse City):

Officer-Man: You’re going to school for dance, huh? What are you going to do with a degree in…dance? (grimacing flinch…)

My immediate and sassy thoughts: Wipe that look off of your face, sir—and give me back my passport before I drink my Michigan-wine, and Dyva-stomp all over your country!!!

(Wait…what am I going to do with this degree???)

My real, not-so-sassy response: …crickets….blank stares….”I want to teach and choreograph and perform” …more staring….more crickets…

Officer-Man: (still grimacing and now looking at me like I have some disease) …have a nice day, ma’am, I’ll look for you on Cirque du Soleil.

My sassy thoughts again: Get this man some jammy-jeans stat; he has CLEARLY never done an x-roll in his life, and could definitely benefit from an hour of somatics! Cirque du Soleil…puhhh!!!!…well actually, maybe?!?

(Wait…what am I going to do with this degree?!?)

It’s that moment of truth that you can never see coming, when reality, the biggest RAB of them all, slaps you across the face with a big dose of her poison. In no way, shape or form does this degree in dance guarantee you a spot in the playing field of lucrative success. While you’ll know the difference between the door, table and wheel planes, it’s on you to figure out what this knowledge can actually provide in the real world.

When I was in high school, my dance teacher described my choreographer-self as a creative genius; I won’t confirm either way, but my mother may have written Mia Michaels an email explaining that I was her prodigy and that she needed to meet me ASAP…(the meeting never did end up happening…did I just confirm that story??)

Ask me to choreograph an eight-count today, and I’ll cry in your face. I’ll do it eventually, but it’s just not my thing anymore.

Then I got to college, and realized that I wanted to perform. I was always told growing up that I didn’t have “the body” to be a professional dancer, and then I was introduced to concert dance where I was told that my body could do anything it wanted, including perform on stage for a career.

Ask me to attend your rehearsal today as a dancer, and I’ll cry in your face. I’ll do it, but it’s just not my thing anymore.

Recently I got to grad school and realized that I love to teach. Coming from a family of educators, I feel that sharing the gift of dance is one of the most exciting and gratifying experiences a dancer can have.

Ask me to sub for your class on Wednesday however, and I’ll probably cry in your face…

I bet you’re wondering all of this is going?? (and no…I don’t have A.D.D)

For med-school, law-school, and supply chain management, if you succeed in A, B and C, then here’s D for your taking, enjoy your career (and get pumped to start paying back your student loans with that fat-paycheck you’re about to get). Most degrees in higher education guide you down a nicely paved road that eventually leads you to a clear victory; this is not the case for dance-majors.

You have to more than love this field for any of your time here at the university to be justified. There are so many possibilities that this degree can offer, the hard part is deciding where to direct your attention and deciding what your overall goals in life are.

Where do you want to live?

NY: Here’s the Joyce.

LA: Here’s Lady Gaga.

Are you going to get married? Do you want to have children?

Yes: Are you sure you want to do that to your body in your prime years as a performer? …are you actually considering changing your last name?—Make him take yours.

No: Go Feminism!!!

Do you want to teach?

Yes: At a studio or university? Let me see your teaching philosophy…

No: So you’re going to choreograph and perform…

 etc. etc. etc.

I’ve decided that I love to teach, I like to perform, and I enjoy choreographing when all is said in done. Above all, I love to connect with people, and all of these things allow me to do just that (and now add this blog to that list). While I may not have the clearest five-year plan set up and framed with a rhinestone border, I do know that I will end up successful because I work hard, and I make sure that everything I put my name on has my full attention and seal of approval.

Be a stickler about taking control of your journey, and don’t just let life happen to you. With so many options, be clear about why you’re a DYVA, why you’re a dance major, and why you’re going to be successful.

The next time this FAQ is put in your way,

“What are you going to be when you grow up?”

I challenge you to look that RAB in the face and respond:

…brilliant!

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