Photo Credit: Phil Wayes

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Burning Girl

(Still no internet. Am posting from Mr. Sozeberg's computer; thanks, Keyser! I wrote this post earlier today on my home computer).

It's my first full day here in my new condo, and I have the day off. With no internet to use as my time-suck, the day has been spent grocery shopping, unpacking, and re-acquainting myself with my DVD collection.

Among the [many] DVDs I watched today, one of them was PADV's 2004 fall concert-- my second concert with the company. The final piece was Returning (the company's signature work), and as I watched it, two things stuck in my mind:
1. Holy damn, I looked totally different five years ago.
2. I danced with so much joy.
The second one kind of bugged me. "I danced with so much joy." I wondered, Do I still dance with that amount of happiness now? Probably not. Why? I mean, that was five years ago, and I made my living from dance; the same can be said today. So what's the difference between then and now?
I thought about it for a while, and the best answer that I can come up with is that... back then, it was a whole new world for me. It was my first apprenticeship, I had been with the company for seven months, I loved everything about it-- the people, the dances, the studio, everything. The senior-year struggle of Trying To Get Into A Company was over, I loved my new life, it was time to just kick back and enjoy it.

Note from the future: It doesn't last. About nine months to a year after you sign your first contract, a little voice creeps into your head, taps your skull, and whispers "Wake up, dollface. The honeymoon's over." And then all of a sudden you're worrying about your career, about your place in your career, if you're moving up fast enough, if you're doing enough, if you're getting enough stage time and how much you've added to your resume. And then you're going on endless auditions and interviews and guesting all over the place and dancing in multiple companies at once. Eventually, the burnout hits you.

It didn't hit me until last season, but it hit me hard. HARD. To the point where putting on a leotard and tights was less desirable than flossing my teeth with barbed wire. I had a wonderful experience working on Alice in Wonderland, but that was pretty much the extent of my joy. For the most part, the career that I busted my ass to even ATTAIN was causing me nothing but stress and angst.

So: I took the summer off. I enjoyed time with my best friend, I read a lot, I watched comedy and laughed my obnoxious shrieky-sounding laugh. I did some soul-searching and remembered why I loved to dance in the first place; why I chose to make this my career. I went back to ballet classes and reconnected with my dance buddies. And then I asked our company director if she wanted me to dance with her this season and talked about class schedules with the studio director. A week ago, I returned to dancing as a much happier dancer.

Usually, my dance-oriented goals involve performing a lot, getting roles, teaching well, and choreographing good dances. After watching that footage today, my new goal is to dance with the same amount of overflowing joy as I did on that DVD.

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