Monthly Archives: January 2016

Choose Your Associates Well

Judgement is a part of human nature. It is inherent in keeping ourselves safe – if we were in nature we would constantly be judging environment and other animals to protect our longevity. We have driven that judgement into some dysfunctional methods. We are judged on our hair, how nice we smell, how well our skin looks, how we are dressed, how our body looks esthetically. This is part of our societal culture and within dance culture it can be exponentially greater. Aside from the physical, there is often associative judgement of who is in your circle.

Sometimes life still feels like high school. There are the cool kids, the geeks, the nerds, the misfits, and those that either don’t care or are blissfully unaware that they are required to fit into a group.  There are leaders seemingly promoting this high school mentality within their following. Why? My guess is they are trying to have the popularity they had or maybe lacked in that era of life. Maybe this is the nature of small communities? But does it have to be so?

I think there are actions by leaders that breed and reinforce this divisive mentality. Leaders pressuring for exclusive studying with themselves is a contributory factor because if students feel they MUST be exclusive with their leader, they have to choose carefully who they are going to commit their time. My question is what right does a leader have to demand exclusivity? The leaders are not paying you – you are paying them. It would be the same as a store you buy from demanding exclusivity of your shopping. I think you would tell them to take a flying leap.

It hurts the community having this pressured exclusivity. I see students feeling squirrelly when they are even thinking of stepping outside of some of these leaders classes as they are afraid – actually afraid – of the repercussions. Should there be repercussions for a student trying to gain holistic education? If you are required to limit your learning through exclusivity, you are limiting your knowledge growth rate. Hearing information from various directions on the same topic, your brain will connect the dots quicker than if you are only getting a linear input. If you are studying various genres simultaneously, the various inputs will increase your coordination faster.

When students realize that they are in the drivers seat, it will create a stronger community. Eliminating having to choose the coolest leader to associate with will also create strength. After all, this is supposed to be a community not a group of cults. With less judgement of association and more cross-support of leaders, everyone wins – especially the students! Stand up for yourself and protect your right as a customer to protect your best interest in learning from every leader that aligns with your learning pathway. Be strong, brave, and allow yourself to spread your wings and grow.

Happiness Factor

Have you witnessed a happy show that haunted you for days? The happy shows are not often the memorable. There is an element of darkness that gets people’s attention. Something twinges when you witness dark work.

Darkness appeals to a cool factor in our brain. Maybe because we don’t like to verbally discuss it? Maybe it is taboo to present anything but our happy selves? Maybe we have an expectation to be good all the time? Delving into the dark side makes it seem we are doing something riské just from bearing witness?

When delving into the dark side, it is difficult to dip a toe or wade in. A plunge is the better approach to avoid a seemingly feeble attempt. A feeble attempt that you were afraid to expose the dark angel in you that you sense but silence. We have a dark angel on our shoulder whispering and tempting us. Most ignore the dark angel and go toward the light. The light is the societal pick. We want everything happy and orderly, but we know the dark is there. Seeing the dark in art has a gut wrench that can be almost naughty for the creator and the audience alike.

So why are some afraid to visit the dark side? There is potential judgement that can be devastating. That judgement can turn the work toward the light. However, there are many dark things difficult to discuss, so art allows exploration in ways words cannot describe. There was a piece I presented with a partner a couple years back about my abusive engagement. The verbal story of the engagement would give you nightmares. It truly could have been turned into a psychological horror film.

We chose to present the piece as I felt it was important to shed light on the subject. The piece made audience members cry. After witnessing it and still today, people come to discuss the piece with me not consciously understanding why it made them cry, but they mention they could not hold back the tears. That is the ability of art to reach and communicate difficult things. It is not about vindication of a subject or person nor about trying to prove a point. It is truly about communication in ways that words cannot always do justice.

There was some judgement from people once they learned what the story was telling. They felt that such a personal revelation in a public setting was something I should not have done. They were okay with being emotionally moved when it was an artistic communication, but once words were assigned to what they had witnessed and understood, then there was judgement. That is the beauty of art. You can be moved in ways words cannot move because there is a communication on a different level – a level that can have profound effect on the witness.