This semester has been great. I am digging my students, my new teaching environment, the content in which I get to delve, and look forward to structuring our experiences differently over time with the wisdom I am gaining on a daily basis.
Here’s the depth of my satisfaction. In a letter to my company dancers the day before break, I said this:
I have spent countless hours trying to figure out where I most want to dance or most want to teach; where my family and I most want to live, and where we most want to spend our time.
I am fortunate because I never had to start with the “what”- it has always been dance for me. Really it has always been about education, too. As I chased a performance career, what I was really doing was mining my teaching philosophy and collecting experiences and strategies to share with students. I just didn’t realize it at the time.
At long last, though, I have come to understand I have been asking the wrong question. It really isn’t about the “where”: should I dance in big cities or mid-western cities, should I audition for companies or projects, should I aim for big programs or little programs, higher ed or K-12….the list goes on and on.
It is really all about the “who”.
In life, you must be in the company of others. This can be tricky. Sometimes the “who” that inhabit the “where” you THOUGHT you most belonged make you miserable. Sometimes the “who” that inhabit the “where” you thought you DIDN’T most belong, change your life and open your eyes to things you never considered before. I have experienced both.
Now, I have the distinct fortune to be in a “where” that stimulates the dancer-side of my self (working with dedicated and talented dancers), the “teacher” side of my self (working with students that love dance for what it adds to their lives though not necessarily their careers), and the “professional” side of my self (working with people that are professional and passionate).
I recently found something I wrote while I was living and dancing in NYC (and working a lot of retail). I wrote that I wanted a small life, one deep in meaningful work. I wrote that I wanted to live in sweat pants and bare feet. As I recall, that was a time that felt like a constant hustle. Securing jobs, juggling jobs, always having to prove my worth or potential within minutes. Days of wearing emotional armor while I paved a career that seemed to be largely based on chance yet built upon decades of hard work and striving. What changed for me was that I stopped trying to be suitable for others- wanting desperately to convince them to take a risk on me. I started deciding if they were worth the risk.
As it turns out, all jobs are a little like that. Relationships, too. You could spend your life trying to live up to the standards of and for others, or of and for yourself. When you do the latter, the “right” things emerge.
This year has been a risk for me, and for my family. We have had to adjust to new schedules, new budgets, new demands of time and responsibility- but it has been a risk worth taking.
It has been worth the risk because of the company of others that I am able to enjoy daily. Hourly. Semesterly. Yearly.
My wish for you is that while you are so focused on making the “right” decisions, you remember the who– your sense of self, your value, your self-worth. I hope you continue to find the company of others that help you recognize and maintain that perspective and allow you to do meaningful work and share the love– whatever that means for you, in dance, through dance, or beyond dance.
Have a restful break and thanks for everything.
I share this with you, readers, because in the larger scope I am in your company as well. I appreciate you.
As I think about the blogs that I frequent, the authors I enjoy most, the people I consider friends, I am drawn to the dimensionality of their lives. As I reflect on the most meaningful experiences of 2014, they have all been when we have been real, open, and engaged. While I consider this mainly a professional blog, and therefore don’t discuss much about other aspects of my life than dance and feelings related to my experiences in dance, I recognize that perhaps you are interested in knowing me differently.
I recently joined instagram (hvsdance). I was inspired to do so after listening to a great knitting podcast (Woolful) and wanted to see more about the work of these fiber artists. What it has done though, is inspire me to create (knitting, cooking, writing, documenting, moving) in ways that other forms of social media don’t necessarily promote. I enjoy seeing the images of lives very different from my own, but also of those that are similar. It helps me not compare in achievement but in shared love of the little things. The things that make life great. It helps me feel connected to people that like the same things I do because I see how they feel. Just be warned that I post a lot about my knitting and won’t post photos of my students so I am unsure of how dance will present in my feed, if at all.
I hope the new year brings you peace and love and movement and creativity. We plan to “keep it simple”; #livethelittlethings, #authenticliving, #simplify (a few of my favored hashtag searches).