I admire those in my field who are at the top of their game – those I see as leaders and game changers in their own realm. How did they get there? They definitely didn’t maintain the status quo in their work. They broke rules and pissed off people. They did so because they had a vision that was different than what everyone else was trying to achieve.
There will be those who want to follow the rules. We need these people. They are called employees. They are the worker bees that take orders and carry them out without question. They tend to be loyal to an organization. They seek normality in their life and want to be able to go to work and come home and not think anymore about it. They often see problems that are unsolvable. These are dancers who work for other dancers.
The innovators are those who break the rules. We need these people too. They tend to be labelled geniuses in their field. Often they are bored with a hint of rebellion. Sometimes called les enfants terribles. Tell them they can’t do it and they will make it their goal to prove you wrong. They can be flippant and like to change things up often, whether it be their job, their project, their living situation, partners, etc. They often have itchy feet. These are my favorite people. Every week, they seem to be living a different life. These are the dancers who open their own schools and companies.
To the worker bees, these people are scary. They are unpredictable from day to day. Their opinions change in an instant when new information is received. They tend to be on the cutting edge of their industry and help push that edge forward into the future. I have heard these people labelled immature because of their lack of stick-to-itness. I whole heartedly disagree with that one. They can’t subscribe to a flawed philosophy when they know there is a better one available somewhere. That is innovation, not flakiness.
They look at the world differently. They see solutions for the problems others can’t solve. They bring new ideas to the table. In the dance world, they find a way to bring masterful and ground breaking art to the stage. They take what others already know and break it. They create schools with a new philosophy in dance. They create companies that express something the community has not seen before.
They are inspired by those who have already done. They know that re-inventing the wheel is going to be a waste of time. So, they study from the greats to whom they have access. They glean as much as they can from those people then put their own spin on it because they believe it can be done a different way while still having a basis of historical theory. We all started from somewhere. Someone had to train us to be the dancer we can be. We have a choice to advance our industry or coast and just follow what others are doing. Either choice can be satisfying. So, decide what kind of dancer you want to be and be it.
What happens when everywhere you turn, you feel like you come up against a brick wall, all the while “friends” landing daggers in your spine? This has been part of my journey this past year. Annoyingly, this continues to be my journey this year as well.
I often wonder if I need new friends and colleagues. Is it the industry? I think that would be letting people off without being accountable for their bad behaviour. There is toxicity within most established institutions. However, can you blame an institution for other’s toxicity or is that giving the institution too much power? Maybe this person is just a bad apple.
How do you identify a frenemy as this person would be deemed in colloquial terms? It can be more difficult than imagined. Even more so if the person is a charming narcissist. They can be your best friend to your face and all the while be trying to manipulate you under that layer of charm. All the while carrying out their own agenda with no regard for how that will affect you as long as they are getting their jollies.
I admit I can be gullible at times. Tell me something far fetched and the first words out of my mouth are “really?” with wide eyed wonder! For how insightful I can be about certain things, I can also be quite a sucker. Hence my current situation? Maybe. Maybe not.
What happens when someone promises to keep a big issue confidential to protect all involved parties, then reneges on her word and goes ahead and breaches that confidentiality? Do you fire that person even if they are in a greater position of power than you? Do you break off contact? Do you live and learn that this person is not trustworthy and try to protect yourself from future situations that she could do the same thing to you all the while trying to maintain a seemingly unchanged relationship? What happens when you still have to deal or rely with this person on a daily basis? Can you still continue to trust them?
It’s a tricky situation to be in. When you rely on this person to provide you with work, thus they help you make a living, it can be hard to cut ties. It takes courage to turn your back on them and put yourself out there to discover newer and more reliable situations. Treading down a new unknown path with someone else who has the upper hand and is not well known to you in a work situation can be risky. Is it better to stay with the devil you know or try out the devil you don’t? It depends on how risk averse you are. I tend to be risk friendly. My plan is to end on good terms to keep the door open. That doesn’t mean I will forget what she did. That would be more gullible than my usual self.
There are going to triumphs and tribulations in all our lives. We can only hope that we come out ahead mentally and physically from these things. Setbacks, especially when they involve our physical being, can mess with our perception of ourself and reality. The truth is, most things will pass. It can seem like a crisis right now, but likely we will be able to look back and see something good that comes out of it. Most of our crises turn out to be speed bumps, reminding us to slow down and take better care of ourself.
I often get injured when I am in need of a break. I never like it. I dread even thinking that it might happen. Anytime it does happen, it does cross my mind that this could be my career ending injury. Once that thought crosses my mind, I have to remind myself that if it is, there will not be much that I can do about it. I have to be thankful that my career has been as long as it has been.
If it is not me being injured, but a colleague, it always pulls at my heart as I know how scary it is. It does put it in perspective how lucky I am to dance everyday. It shakes me up to be present and take a day at a time – in life and dance. It also reminds me that dancing 7 days a week might put me in a place where I could be setting myself up for the injury. This is something I do have to keep a monitor on.
Dance is my addiction. It is also my pleasure. It is exhilarating. It gives me purpose. It gives me a shot of happiness daily. A day without movement doesn’t feel whole to me. A run, yoga, or hitting the gym will help, but there is something especially magical and spiritual about being in tune with my body through dance. To have that sensitivity of communication between my brain and my body such that I can make micro-corrections that change the feedback from my body back to my brain. There is nothing else in my day that gives me such gratification.
The gist of all this is to remember that most things that happen to us are just a phase. It may feel like our world is collapsing and that everything will change for the worse because of it. Know that we all go through it. Injuries can provoke a huge emotional shift, so it is important to keep things in perspective. There is no appreciation of our talent unless we have it threatened once in a while to be taken away. Remember to be thankful everyday you touch a dance floor.
Finding a permanent partner is as or more difficult than finding a permanent life partner. So many factors have to be in place for it to work. You can be good on paper and horrible in real life. Just like a romantic relationship, a dance partner relationship has to have chemistry. Why? It can make or break the longevity of a pairing.
This does not imply chemistry to the point of becoming romantically involved with each other. That is usually something to be avoided, especially in the throws of a new dance relationship where everything is exciting, yet delicate. Many are sucked into the excitement to the point of crossing the boundary of just being partners. This is dangerous territory as the excitement of a new partnership mimics the affect of deeper feelings. It is usually better to let the new partnership glow wear off before determining if there is something deeper between you. This can be more easily said than done. You do have to feel amazing when you dance together. When I get to dance with a great partner, there is this building of joy that makes it almost difficult for me to breath, not unlike what I feel when I want to be romantically. It can be so exhilarating that I can barely sleep at night as I am on such an adrenaline high.
This dance chemistry has to translate to something beyond what the two partners feel when they are working together. The synchronicity of the movement will be captivating to the observer as you know each other’s balance and movement so well that you can compensate for anything that might go wrong during a performance. The audience should feel that chemistry between partners radiating from your pores. When you have the opportunity to observe it, you will understand what it looks like. Mesmerizing!
Beyond dance and physical chemistry, there has to be chemistry of communication. This takes effort to establish as everyone comes from a different background and expectation. It has to be good enough so no one is regularly getting defensive in discussion. If you have one partner more vocal than the other – especially in a negatively critical way – it can break the chemistry to the point of dreading any interaction.There is something to be said about setting rules of engagement in situations where there are egos at play. Yes, dancing is a beautiful art. However, behind that beauty are delicate egos that demand management.
When you are lucky enough to find that chemistry with a partner, relish it. Just like a romantic relationship, the chemistry has to be nurtured to maintain it. It needs as much attention as the dancing. Without chemistry, the audience will not be as drawn. Pick your partners carefully, pay attention to comments from respected observers, and be grateful everyday for the chemistry you have been so lucky to find. Some dancers are not fortunate enough to ever experience it.