Photo Credit: Phil Wayes

Friday, October 26, 2007

Getting there is half the fun

Autumn, 2005. I was living the small-town life in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania. I taught ballet in a tiny studio with a slippery wooden floor and worked in a dance store in the same rickety old building next to the creek in Bethlehem Township. On Fridays I taught in a huge, state-of-the-art dance studio in Easton; I danced with a liturgical dance company in Nazareth (not far at all from where I lived) where we did lyrical dances and prayed as the colorful leaves fell down around us; I danced the Sugar Plum Fairy in a regional ballet's Nutcracker; I ran the student dance company at the ballet school and choreographed modern dances for a dance-on-film project. Nights I sat in the living room at the Wind Gap house, drinking wine, watching TV and smoking Parliament Lights with the people I lived with.

It was, to date, one of the most boring and artistically un-fulfilling seasons of my my whole career.

In the fall, I did not notice as much because life was, as the opening paragraph states, certainly busy. I was wrapped up enough between teaching at two studios, dancing in the small companies, and working on choreography. I didn't start to get unsettled until December, close to Nutcracker time when I wondered if this was all my career would be; liturgical troupes in slate-mining towns and annual Nutcrackers performed in high school auditoriums.

As of that moment, standing in our "dressing room (a social studies classroom)" in my Gaynor Mindens, my career suddenly appeared to be a pile of matchsticks masquerading as a mansion. It was then that I acknowledged that "busy" is not always synonymous with "successful;" nor was "my career" with"my work"-- at the time, due to the lack of paying dance work within 50 miles, I worked four different part-time jobs over the season to cover my bills. Dancing seemed to be an afterthought.

And then, four days later, I took the leap of faith. I signed on to work with a dance company 1600 miles away; a dance company with no funding, no other dancers besides the director, and no audience base. I knew this, and still I leapt. Not because I wanted the job, because I wanted what it represented-- a life outside of rural oblivion, and a city with a bursting arts scene and many, many other dance companies to choose from if my initial job proved to not be feasible. I took my flying leap on August 1st, 2006; on a puddle-jumper plane with 2 suitcases and a hangover. I had maybe $300 to my name and no concrete plan of any kind.

It was the craziest, scariest, stupidest, and best thing I have ever done for myself.


T said...

You were definitely the right combination of brave/stupid! Heh. Just kidding about the stupid part. It was wise for you to move to a larger city. I'm so happy that everything has been working out so well for your career.

I still think you should try to find some work in Portland, too, but that's because I have ulterior motives! I miss you.

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