There is a wonderful young woman, who I am mentoring, who continuously pushes me to reflect on my experiences and offer her advice. While I hope she knows advice is always subjective, the process of reflecting on the over-arching themes of my career has been really satisfying and its has prompted great conversations with like-minds who have experienced very different pathways.
Lately, I keep coming back to this:
My career has been about following the interesting questions and very few of them have turned out to be where I expected to find them. It turns out, I held a lot of myths about dance, education, and satisfying work.
Myth #1: Higher Education is where the thinking happens in dance.
Fact: Thinking can happen anywhere in dance and in life, if that is what you want.
I love intellectual stimulation and physical expression. The connection of those things is where I find my “flow” where I lose time and feel most alive. Working in higher ed has been where I felt this, actually, the least. Perhaps due to the programs I was teaching in, we were able to promote students taking their work outside the studio and stage contexts, but very little of that was in practice when it came to the work of the faculty. At several points of contract, when deciding to take a job or not, I found myself wondering if I wanted to teach about why should be done in non-traditional ways, or if I wanted to actually go do it. As it turns out, I want to do it AND teach about the why.
Myth #2: K-12 Education is for the people who couldn’t cut it as dance majors.
Fact: I didn’t actually hold this myth myself, but I know plenty of others who do. I do think K-12 Dance Educators are robbed of the benefit of professional immersion into the creative process and performance opportunities often reserved for those planning on a performance career.
Myth #3: The “real job” is the one with bureaucracy, salary steps, and health insurance.
Fact: I now work for a non-profit. It is as glamorous as the reputation of non-profit work suggests, but I must admit, it is rewarding. My CEO has joked that in watching me in other postitions within “institutions”, she thought I had the real job, as if she was just playing house. Now here, I see this is where the “real work” is- the real questions, the real needs, the real problems in which we are able to develop creative solutions. We are able to do as we like, as we see it best, for those we serve.
Following where the most interesting questions are- has brought me to the people, in the community, and servicing the field.