Last night the Hub and I were discussing why I would make a good traveling companion for The Doctor.
(Each summer we “theme” our television/film viewings. So fun!! This summer is Dr. Who, about which we are both now obsessed. Previous summers include Charles Dickens, “W.A”- Woody Allen and Wes Anderson, Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple, I think there were others…..)
And I have decided that most of the reasons we came up with and the others that I have arrived at as I continue the conversation in my head, relate to my life in dance.
1. Need to be able to adapt to any new environment.
Dance culture depends on observational learning. It is true socially and artistically. When entering a new class, studio space, dance environment- we know to watch and do. There are certain things that are always true regardless of space and environment. Having that center of understanding, we are able to roll with the punches in terms of the finer details. We observe others to prep for class or rehearsal in anticipation of the instructor or choreographer’s preferences (where to put our stuff, whether to be standing when they enter or not, are warmers permitted, which wall is front,…).
It is true in movement as well. We are a kinesthetic art form depending on visual learning to provide the majority of the information. Questions are tolerated but only after sound observations are made. Question before that time and you are “outed” as a newbie, judgements are made, and your fate written. You are not to be trusted.
2. Know when to follow and when to lead.
When there is a clear leader, I am happy to let them lead. But if they are asking for contributions to the creative process, I am ready to help problem-solve, try anything they ask (within reason), generate new material. If they aren’t around, I will readily step in. I understand my skills, my strengths, and limitations, and my place.
It is one of the intrinsic values that studying the arts, seriously and over time, can provide.
3. Laughing at my myself.
Mistakes happen. We may as well embrace them. Mistakes in dance look funny, feel funny, even sometimes sound funny. Oh well. The entire process of creating can stop if we can’t laugh and keep moving.
4. Taking risks.
Choreographers have challenged my body and my mind. Invaluable teachers have pushed my thinking, my writing, my dance-making, my teaching, my ways of being. My career has demanded I take risks.
After college, I moved to Chicago with $100 and a credit card (don’t tell my Dad). After Chicago came New York and then Los Angeles. Then grad school, a series of teaching jobs that fluctuate in stability, and now I am here.
A friend recently suggested that was gutsy. I suggested it was stupid. We agreed on one point- it was necessary. That is absolute truth. I lived to talk about it. And it changed my view of life. I am ever so thankful.
5. Communication and Translation
Dance has taught me how and when to communicate, how to translate ideas into movement and/or written word. It has taught me how to collaborate, look for opportunity, and trust the process even when I have difficulty trusting people.
And last but not least, it involves TIME and SPACE. The EFFORT comes in how articulately we navigate through our journey.
Oh, Doctor. Maybe I am already on a great trip. But my front door is now TARDIS blue if ever you need to find me.