Letter to Future Self

Dear J.,

            Hey dude what’s up? How have the ballet classes and training been? I really hope by the time your read this you’re some kind of ballet dancing divo! If not, you’re dead to me… just joking, I’m sure you’ve made much improvement and it is evident in what you do. I put us in a lot of ballet classes this semester, four to be exact and that’s 10 classes a week, and my goal for you is to be able to apply that ballet technique to contemporary dance. So make it happen, Chop-Chop!

            Right now I can tell we really get this whole contemporary/modern dance technique by having a grounded presence and efficiency in movement. We’ve grown from hating floor movement to being able literally fly and tumble on the floor as if we were under water. Took us a few years to get here and many goals we’ve set for ourselves when entering college has been met. My new goals for you, future J., is to get your movement to incorporate the ballet-esque contemporary dance style that Danny Tidwell is flawless at, while also adding aesthetic of an Ailey Dancer such as Anthony Douthit-Boyd. You can do it! These ballet/contemporary classes will do wonders for you and by adding these things will get you to out dance that amazingly talented dancer in our heads.

            Here are some things I’m going to need you to focus on the journey to complete these goals is are:

  • Fix your arms/port de bras! – There is so much that your movement can become when there is more intention and specificity in your arms.
  • Flexibility – You don’t need to be a contortionist, but a solid tilt and full split leap will serve you well
  • Applicable Strength – Now, flexibility is great but being able to hold your legs in positions, and sustain balances well would be pretty advisable.

         So, by the time you read this, Future J., I hope you have accomplished these goals and are looking back at videos of me like, “Ugh! My Lanta, I looked like that!?” because that would make me oh so proud! Keep being amazing and never forget your worth!

 

Sincerely,

Present J. (Jan. 2014)

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Transitions and L.O.V.E.

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I will be in my Final year at ASU this upcoming fall (YAY!) and with that comes a huge responsibility, Transition Projects! For Dance Majors at ASU’s school of dance, the final main project of the year is called the Transition Projects, which is very similar to a Capstone project in other disciplines, How the project is done is almost completely up to the individual student. Some examples that have been done in the pas have been students performing solos either created by themselves, choreographed by someone else, or in conjunction with a faculty in the. Others have choreographed group pieces, as well as going on to completely put on their own show that is separate from the main Transition Project Showing that happens in February.

I have seen 3 transition shows since first entering ASU as a dance major and the ones that have definitely stood out to me as actually “transitioning” were those that used the creation and performance of dance to address a real struggle that the performer or choreographer faced daily. Whether the topic was race, family, society, or anything in between, the fact that it is a real honest connection to the movement is what reads so powerfully with me.

Well, after  3 years of anticipation for my chance, I have decided to try and make something that addressed real struggles and issues I have in my own life, which happens to be with L.O.V.E. I will create a series of dances related to teh topic of love over the next year to build up my repertoire as a choreographer as well as showcase more of my work outside of ASU. When I say love I am referring to love in all aspects. Love in the romantic way, love for your kin, friendship love, love for an object or activity, and hate as a result of love. It sounds very broad and I want it that way because I would like for everyone in the audience who watches each piece in the series to be able to connect to it in some way that is real and honest for them. I do not want to create something that is just for me to connect to as the creator of these pieces.

So, this generally just came about from one day really deciding to address the fact that I have a very strong emotional detachment from most things and people. At times I am afraid to love because I fear the end result is pain, other times I stay detached because I feel that it is not worth being emotionally invested, and more times than not I stay detached because I am expecting the person or thing I love to vanish, leave, or withdraw before I’m ready to go. I have had a lot of experiences with someone I love abandoning feelings for me, or physically abandoning me, and after many years of suppressing my reactions to it these events I think I have become very desensitized. It’s almost like I am a piece of tape that doesn’t have much adhesive left,

With this series of pieces, I will be recreating scenarios in my life and those I have seen others go through that have helped shape my unhealthy reaction to love, relationships, and attachment. I am excited, nervous, and scared to try and reach so deeply within myself for the sake of dance and art, but all I can see is growth as a dancer, dance maker, and human so I going forth with this for sure.

I will keep updates on this as well… this will be interesting =)

I’ve Been Gone WAY Too Long.. Sorry!

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Ok, I’ve obviously been away form this too long! I’ve been wanting to write on this for so long and post so many updates, but nothing had happened and I was really ambivalent about every thing. I was out of a job, unhappy with what I was dancing and creating, and generally just in a very grey area in terms of emotions. But, I’m back to feeling like me! I realized (again) that I feel like crap when I have too much time on my hands. Being out of school on summer break and jobless just made me very… ugh, to say the least.

So, I just accidentally posted this by pressing the stupid Publish button (I Know), so let me sum this up. I have a job now, full time. I am working with my dance group in AZ (Scorpius Dance Theatre, Google us!) to get ready to go to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh Scotland,  which I will update daily about that experience because it Will Be nothing short of amazing and beautiful and inspirational and everything else. I have decided to do my final dance project at ASU about L.O.V.E. and a lot of what that entails (more info in another post) since I am graduating SPRING 2014! And I am really excited and scared about the subject of this project to say the least! And lastly, I am working on the 3rd Annual Arizona’s Got Dance National Dance Day Showcase and Workshop that I artistically direct for my friend’s non-profit Dancer’s and Health Together (check us out!) which will be on July 20th (showcase) and July 17th, national dance day (workshop, I am teaching!)

I am BACK AND HAVE A SOUND MIND!

My Contemporary Class for Free The Dance

(I am the one dancing in the front with the purple shirt by the way)

So last night, I taught a Contemporary dance class for my dance organizations final class for the semester. The organization is called Free The Dance and it is a student run organization that offers free dance classes to all ASU students and the surrounding communities in various styles once a week.

I founded this club at the end of my freshman year and I have taught a lot since then, and also have grown a ton. This is due to the club’s feedback circle that the participants take part in directly after the class. This is where the students give 2 pieces of feedback to the instructor about the class: one for what they enjoyed in the class, and one they would like to see next time the instructor teaches.

I am really grateful for this club because it feeds by hunger for a very warm and loving environment for dance that is nothing but supportive and free. The class has had a multiple of dance experiences in class. From beginning to dance for the very first day at Free The Dance to having danced most of their lives, and everyone enjoys the classes that take place.
And they enjoyed mine ass well and I was so honored to share the space with the dancers last night. They were so present when performing and gave authentic performances.

Some of the feedback I received last night was also really helpful to me as an aspiring dance artist and teacher. During the feedback circle, the class basically loved the movement, which I appreciated. That was a real testament to my ability to choreograph and teach dance because they also enjoyed my pacing for teaching the movements, as well as how I took the time to answer many questions they had in the class. Which is a hard thing to do when you are trying to fit so much into a one hour and thirty minute class. But, I also asked to have a warm-up that coincided better with the movement since my warm up was more face paced and cardio based. As well as warming up the spine more because of all of the use of the spine that happened in the phrase. I thought I had done a good job of warming up the spine sense that was partly the basis of my warm up, but I learned that other dancers may need more time warming up than I do since I do warm up quite fast.

Everyday offers more ways to grow and learn and I am always ready for it!

So, I Fell… What Do I Do Next?

ImageThe beginning of this week is also the last week of classes. I would be excited like most other years but this round has knocked me down, and kicked me a few times.

With a plethora of projects, presentations, showing, papers, and exams to do all within a week I found myself completely overwhelmed. Literally every large assignment that was due this semester in all of my classes are due this week. Why ASU!?

My GPA has rested safely above a 3.85 for the past five semesters and I was confident I could so it again… Until today. I had a five paged paper, as well as a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the paper, due today and guess when I started it. 12 hours before it was due. But, not due to procrastination, due to order of operations and the long list of tasks and assignments that have been piled on to my life recently. I am used to the excess amount of work to do, I often want more to do to keep form being idle. So, I got the assignments done and in on time. But, it was the worst work I probably have ever done! Period. If i get a 50% on the paper and presentation, I would be shocked. Failing this assignment will bring my grade down to a “C” in the class (because a C is 84% and below in this class for some odd reason).

And if that wasn’t enough, I check my grade in another class and completely FORGOT to do a large assignment that was due last Sunday. So, now I kissed my “A” in the class good-bye. It may sound like I am upset over a few points in the class and am a grade hog, but that’s only partly true. The biggest thing is that I am just really disappointed in myself, and that’s the worst feeling in the world. Knowing you could have done much better if you were just more focused, or in my case, more organized and had better time management skills.

So, theoretically I am face-down in the dirt and have all of the despair in the world, with the rest of the week of work to get through. I have to ask myself now, am I going to just lay here and let the rest of the work engulf me as well? Will I just throw away the rest of the week and accept C’s in the rest of my classes? Or will I use this moment as a reason to make a difference for my future?

I did not do so well today, and there were tons of opportunities in the days/weeks leading up to this day that I could have taken. But, I did not, and I cannot change that. So I owe it to myself to change the future. Tomorrow is a new day and a new battle, so I am taking it by the horns! I will wake up with a vengeance!

I always hear/read people say get back up and try again, but having to actually do it is a whole other story. I’ve decided to write this so I could always remember the day that I fell short of my own potential so that I never do it again. There are going to be many moments when I fall again, fail, and maybe hit a rock bottom, but I only want it to be because I put forth a great effort!

I Need To Dance Again (Poem)

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I need to Dance again,

And I don;t mean that “go to a dance class and learn someone else’s movement” kind of dance,

I mean that “lock myself away in a studio for countless hours,

Expressing what’s inside with words of movement,

Covering every inch of the space with my electricity,

Explaining ‘Love’ through my moves,

And giving the walls something REAL to talk about” kind of dance,

I need to Dance again

I need to go to a place where passion and desperation collide to make art,

Where silence has a sound and it’s deafening to the ears,

And where judgment is extinct.

I need to Dance.

I need to find out how I REALLY feel.

I need to fight through the confusion, the doubt, the fear, the angst, the ANGER…

I need to let the fire burn proud and relentlessly,

consuming my entire existence… for once.

I want to sweat out all of my problems and fog the mirrors with the heat of my body.

I want to get high off of the endorphins my movements create.

I want to wade in the waters of my sorrow and pain,

Cannon ball off the diving board into the depths of my despair,

Truly understanding the rock bottom of depression.

Then let the light flurry of air bubbles tickle me back up to the surface, into a back stroke through the high of joy.

I need to Dance again.

Oh, God I want to say the words that I always leave unsaid,

And I want to say them with such conviction that I strike the hearts of all who have broken mine.

I want them to hear my weeping soul scream with a crackling voice from the center of their existence,

So they could, for the length of my dance, feel how i felt.

But I don’t want to dance for them because it’s for no one else but myself,

So I don’t want to dance for money,

I don’t want to try to remember choreography,

I don’t want to sense my pelvis,

And I sure as hell don’t want to even think about a turn out when I move..

Dance is for me, and when I’m moving in that place, that’s who I’ll be dancing for.

Shit… I just need to Dance again.

***I wrote this during the summer of 2011, right after completing my freshman year at ASU as a dance major, and I felt like a junky going through withdrawals. I was used to dancing everyday and for an average of about 4 hours a day, and the time I was spending as a Community/Residential Assistant for one of the summer programs ASU had to offer was not cutting it for me. I posted this now because I am finding myself having similar withdrawals. Except, I am dancing a lot and performing so much (which is a blessing), but I am not really expressing myself reaching a mental/emotional/spiritual release that initially brought me to dance when I first did a chasse across the floor. Hopefully, after finals I can escape to a studio and just Live again.