A few weeks ago a colleague asked me if I have finally found my niche. She said she felt as though I have been searching all these years. Everyone I have shared this with since has nodded in agreement, sometimes looking as if they would like to hear the answer. I am grateful for all the thinking and conversation this has provided me.
That night, I responded by saying I feel I have had many niches. In some ways, I have come to consider them as seasons: a season of dancing and creating professionally, a season of teaching in higher ed, a season in K-12 public ed, and now a season in community health.
In that moment it dawned on me, that from the outside, I am sure it does appear as though I have been searching; as if I am sampling goods until I find my fit. I have shifted from job to job, from one aspect of the field of dance to another and covering nearly everything in between.
As of now, I have stopped teaching dance in public education (full-time; I still do residencies) and am embarking on a whole new endeavor. My teaching focus has shifted from coaching movement from the performance perspective, to the learning strategy, to impacting quality of life.
Admittedly, there has been a lot of change but I wouldn’t say it has been searching. It has been research. I just didn’t see it as such all of the time and certainly didn’t speak of it in that way.
How does Art move people?
Which people have the right to Art/Dance/move?
How does movement create the right to a life well-lived (isn’t that the ultimate Art)?
It is accumulative. It is spiraling. It is the path to my truth and purpose.
It hasn’t been a path of OR but one of AND. Or I guess, THEN.
Each day brings me closer to my deepest work, my purpose. I am moved by the people I am meeting, inspired by the authenticity of my colleagues, supported by generous and courageous people that simply want to see my work/our work/our community succeed.
Though some of my decisions were in response to situations of employment ending or changing (as programs were cut, hours lost,…)- most have been in following the breadcrumbs. The road has been daring and unconventional yet it has rewarded me with riches of knowledge, relationships, connections, and unique types of security.
My intention is to live a meaningful life. To be useful. To see and be seen. To share and to connect. To reach my fullest potential by helping others move closer to theirs.
Maybe that is finding one’s niche. I have just never known anyone who has reached their largest potential by staying in one place.