Friday, March 1, 2019


Living a life of vitality, purpose and contribution
through kindness, rhythm and groove

Noticing as gratitude
Expecting undulation

Staying curious:

Friday, February 15, 2019

Live Music (& Dance!) Experiences: Beats Antique and Solid Gold :)

Morning writing happening here today, not in my journal.

I've been trying to get a post about the Beats Antique show I saw a week ago written, well, for a week . . . It was humorous to pull up this site and have the first sentence of my last post hit me real quick: something about disappointment in not making better in the first month of the year on my intention this year to see more live music. This post serves the purpose of making good on that AND on writing about the dance and music I see!

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to take in live music both Friday and Saturday nights: Beats Antique (that's where the '& Dance!' comes from) and Solid Gold. I made a last-minute (for me - i.e. Wednesday night :)) decision to go to the Beats Antique show. The conditions were right timing-wise, and I had a group to go with! I've found that so often, what holds me back from going out dancing or to a music show is not having a partner in crime. I have no bones about attending dance shows alone, and I'm realizing it's because those are far less social. It's much easier for me to go sit in a seat and watch something alone than it is to be in a more social scenario and not have someone to share it with.

I've found it pretty easy to go to Late Night (Thursday) swing alone, because there's a very clear convention about always switching up who you dance with. Given this, lots of folks drop in by their onesie :)  In fact, this applies for me to most partner dancing scenarios. Kind of odd when I think about it: that I feel more comfortable attending partner dance events alone than I do events where the dancing is primarily done solo. Given there's no convention about switching partners, i.e. about having someone to dance with (or in this case around), it feels a lot less enjoyable to me to go to solo dance scenarios on my own. Given this, I'm trying to make better on inviting folks with me. It can just be hard to find the sweet spot in timing (particularly because it's different for everyone), and I DO find that a great majority of my 'dance friends' don't care to or prioritize going 'out dancing.'

Anyway, on to the shows. This was my second time seeing Beats Antique and it was pretty awesome!

While I DO feel that their tour-name promise of "The Grand Bizarre" was less than super-present (very little in the way of themed set, props and costume), the music was hype, Zoe Jake's dancing was on point as always, and it was a really enjoyable night of booty-bouncin'. I always really appreciate how crowds for shows like this tend to be really convivial and sweet with each other: we all just needed to dance it out, it seems, and that's what we did! No drama getting in or waiting in bathroom lines, kindness in moving through the space, etc.

It's kind of amazing how much sound (basically) two musicians can create! That said, I did feel a little disappointed in how many of the sounds seemed canned (all the horns, for example). Despite this, I TOTALLY appreciate how costly it would be to have people playing all the sounds they wish to incorporate, and that they are making it happen how they can. I also appreciated seeing another dancer: the woman who performed with Zoe Jakes was pretty great. The two have very differing styles (Jakes incorporating more back-bends and other such 'athletic' feats and the other dancer showing more commitment to fluid washes in the music), so it was interesting to see them perform together. I also found myself thinking "Damn. How does one get to the point in their transnational fusion dance training and connection that they are asked to perform with Zoe fuckin' Jakes?" Pretty cool.

Also pretty cool was the fact that Beats Antique had apparently held a contest to select from the Twin Cities area a group of local transnational fusion dancers to come perform before they did. Very sweet. The group that did perform (didn't quite catch their name, though I did catch that they are from Mankato) was pretty great! On the whole, I'm so glad I was able to get out for some booty-bouncin' and to watch Zoe Jake's dance. When she was dancing, I couldn't! I found myself only able to process watching her :)

On Saturday night, it was the Solid Gold band at the Prior Lake VFW, featuring two favorite things: my dad and a space that has held so much significance to me over the years. The VFW is where out 4H meetings were. Where aunt Lynette got married. Where there's been so many Solid Gold gigs. Steak fries. My bridal shower. Given the significance of the space in my life, it's always fun to visit. 

The above video is NOT from the night I'm writing about, it's from another night my family was there listening to a different band. I'm really glad I captured my folks dancing, as it's moments like this that inspired my own path to dance :) 

While I DID wish there had been more folks there to take in the music, the ones that were there were dancin', so that's good. My usually VFW dance partner (my momma) was out for the count temporarily given some medical stuff, so I had to dance by my onesie (again :)). It always turns out alright. Ended up with two dance partners: one whose dance skills were mediocre but kind-human skills were excellent, and the other inverse. Such is the way of social dancing :)

Glad to have heard so much music last weekend. This one isn't going to hold any live music, but it will hold dance (watching my cast and all the other dancers rock the Winona State University Dancescape 2019 show again!), and the following weekend holds A LOT of live music. University of Idaho JazzFest, here I come!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Dance Experiences

I'm a little bummed to type that I have yet to make good on my live music desires this year. I've come close but not seen it through yet. I also have yet to see a dance performance, but that'll change tonight when the dude and I head to Chanhassen Dinner Theaters to see friends in "Holiday Inn." That said, shaming myself for what I haven't done isn't the purpose of this post: it's to note that I HAVE been making good on getting out to class.

So far, I've been to two tap classes (one at BallareTEATRO with Kaleena Miller and one at Zenon with Dorian Brooke), a house session (thanks for organizing, Straightline Dance Fitness and Ozzy Dris!) and a West African class (with Whitney McClusky and Fode Bangura of Duniya Drum and Dance). I'm hoping this writing will help me continue my practice, in a documented way, of noting similarities and differences between these different yet related forms that draw me.

The first and most obvious connection I've noticed was in West African class. We were taking steps from Kassa (a harvest dance of the Malinke people - I'm trying to improve my practice of noting the specifics so I can revisit them later!) across the floor, and I noticed I started to 'house' the steps. In other words a double hop-tap from foot to foot went from being a straight rhythm to a syncopated one when I danced it, and the suspension that I felt as a result felt like the steps would in a house context. I tried to perform the step in a straight rhythm, but it was really hard to get myself to break what I felt was a kinesthetic habit! I'll also add here for posterity that we spent most of the class working on Bao, a forest celebration dance originating from Guinea).

There is of course the notion that specific footwork moving between straight and syncopated rhythms ties ALL of this together. When being that general, one could argue that this could apply to ALL folk dances from anywhere in the world, so that pushes me to specify the connection between feet being flat and dropping into the ground and release of the knees and pelvis that encourages the rest of the body to experience ease in the joints. This sense of kinesthetic freedom is another important piece to the puzzle of how African dance forms (West in particular, from my written and embodied research) and their travelled diaspora form the base of the sets of American vernacular movement that inform the kind of dance I like to make for the stage.

There is so much more here, but other tasks call. To be continued as I continue to amass class and rehearsal experiences this year. Hoping to be back soon with writing about a live music or dance show. Perhaps I'll get myself back to write about "Holiday Inn" very soon!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Mission Statement

I have a bunch of things like this.

I wrote them all down in my journal, along with a bunch of other stuff.

Here's where it all brought me, in this first try for a 'mission statement' that speaks to both my professional and personal approaches:

"I seek to live a life of vitality, purpose and contribution, 
directed by kindness and my fondness for rhythm and groove in movement."

Not a bad first try :)

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year Intentions - 6th and Final Step

New Year Intentions 2019

WHY -->         HOW -->                       WHAT
Vitality            Presence                         Growth-Inspiration
Purpose           Simplicity-Complexity  Relationship-Creation
Contribution   Embodiment                   Danced-Contribution   . . .

Practice kindness

Embrace noticing as the path to gratitude (Cain)

Value the complexity-simplicity continuum as the beautiful human puzzle

Expect undulation of commitment level and change in conditions (ex: balancing RS & freelancing)

Protect the time before 9:30am

Label where & when on writings

Expand yourself for wellness, joy and growth:

daily physicality outside career (class, tap-yoga-circuits)
cook often
reading, podcasts and videos on topics of interest
connection with loved ones
social dancing (Dance Church, swing, Sun sessions)
live music (buy tickets ahead)
camp three times

Write and post reactions to live music and dance shows

Donate 1% of income

New Years Intentions - Steps .5 - 5 of 6

Step .5 was creating the following summary of my process of creating New Years Intentions. Didn't really realize it would be part of the process this year until it just started happening!

New Year’s Intentions Process

I’ve appreciated reflection as an intentional practice for as long as I can remember. My tradition of creating what I've come to call 'New Years Intentions' really began when I started journaling in 8th grade, thanks to an assignment from a favorite English teacher named Mr. (Jeff) Hoeg. Since then, journaling has been one of my most trusted methods for sorting out my own inner chaos alongside the external chaos we all have to learn to swim through.

Somewhere along the way (perhaps during college? I’ve found lists back to 2007), I began having increasingly-lengthy year-end journaling sessions to reflect on my most recently completed trip around the sun in relation to the calendar year. I’ve gone through various methods in how to coax out the best results, including lists I’ve found on blogs, prompts suggested by friends and things I’ve dreamed up on my own.

Over time, I've whittled these ideas down into a set of steps that work for me in directing my year-end reflection. These steps are most helpful for people who 1) already have a writing practice and 2) perhaps also already have a history of making New Years Intentions or Resolutions:
  1. Priming writing: Take a little time to write what's on your mind as a way to 'clear the slate' and get the words falling out of your brain-body, through your pen and onto the page. 
  2. Revisit previous year’s intentions: This step is useful for folks who created some sort of list or set of ideas from the past year. Locate them, sit with them a bit, and write down anything that comes to you immediately. 
  3. Review past year’s personal writings (journal and blog), writing about progress and areas of opportunity related to your intentions, as well as new themes or ideas that emerge. 
  4. This year reflection questions: Guided by what you uncovered in the previous step, answer these questions: What did you experience this year? How did you progress/ achieve, and what are areas of opportunity in relation to your intentions? 
  5. Next year reflection questions: Guided by what you uncovered in steps 3 and 4, answer these questions: What do you want to experience next year? What continued and new themes emerged in your writings from the year that could use some of your focus? 
  6. Framing your intentions: Examine your writings from the step 5 prompt, and format them into words/ phrases/ a list you can remember and revisit throughout the coming year to help you toward your desired experiences.
Creating this process has been a labor in belief that I hold much of the magic I need to keep bettering how I love myself and others, on small and large scales, with care and intention.

Steps 1-3 occurred in physical writing in my journal. Steps 4 and 5 will live in this post, and Step 6 will live in it's own. Here we go Step 4!

Step 4: This year reflection questions -

What did you experience this year?

Having gone back to read my writings from the year, it became increasingly easy to say "So many good things!" Professionally, I brought Rhythmically Speaking to year 10 and reimagined our impact, I quickly wrote and funded a revised annual program for RS that makes me excited to continue with this work and will (hopefully, we'll see!) allow me to fulfill a lot of my own goals, and established a re(new)ed board. I had my best grant year ever, getting three! - competitive MRAC Next Step, MRAC AA and the St. Paul Cultural Star on my first try. In this, I continued to realize how pivotal grad school was to me in being able to efficiently and effectively communicate about my artistic interests and their ability to impact. I produced my best-attended show EVER (CHILL) with more than 500 people in attendance, great audience and press reviews, and real artistic glow - assisted by the fact that I'd wanted to do that show for SO LONG! A DECADE! I created an evening-length solo(eqsue) piece that was almost entirely improvised and heavy on collaboration. I performed three separate Contempo engagements, and learned a lot about how I wish to treat and be treated in professional performance scenarios. I completed my fifth season as goofball Nerdette, and even got booked for it outside the stadium!

I revamped my own website and RS's, I opened and closed a fiscal sponsorship for short-lived idea Erinn Liebhard Dance, I put a great deal of thought and action into professional strategic planning, and am really excited to see where it will all go in the upcoming calendar year (as well as how it will impact beyond that). I also created a Facebook page for my own work as "Erinn Liebhard: Dance Artist." I developed marketing and financial systems for both RS and my freelancing that feel concurrent with one another and in that easier to use. I attended the national NDEO conference again and booked a national gig (Idaho) that I've wanted for years. I further developed professional and artistic connections at Melanie's "The Woodshed" - what an amazing week. Proof that sometimes investing in your art (without certain return) can be HIGHLY worth it. I continued to build a group of dancers that understand my work and gel so well with each other, and I continue to learn how to handle that "project based" model as a creator. I learned a great deal about how I work and my inspirations when creating the Right Here piece.

I started in on my fourth and final (for now) year teaching in higher education at Winona State. I had the pleasure of attending a third ACDA as an educator and continuing to build connections in that sphere. I was hired by my alma matter to do an audition panel, and later asked to teach a class (which I unfortunately had to turn down, but none the less!). I had some amazing residencies with the Cowles Center, including my highlights - the Creations day at the Cowles and the MovementWise off-sites. What an electric experience. I created a new work for SPCPA and remounted a work on River Falls. I taught a J-term for Gustavus, and worked my way through the disappointment of not getting hired there. I served as a Minnesota State Arts Board Evaluator and got to see and review some great performances. I made (better) on my desire to keep my professional writing up by creating reviews of shows I saw and posting them here, AND I got an in-practice article written up and selected for the Dance Education in Practice journal. I continued to teach the Friday Morning Jazz class with Karla, working to keep our community regularly excited about training in jazz. I MCed EEE's fundraiser and the talk-back for their final show before a potentially indefinite pause, and that was very gratifying. Finally, I reduced my 'buckets' from five to two - Education and Performance.

Personally, I travelled to Colorado with Kris for Josie's high school graduation, and we got to have dinner at Jill's for our anniversary and spend a lot of time with Jessica. Man, I'm so grateful for those friends. I continued into my now years-long (seeming perhaps life-long) journey exploring personal growth, and came to appreciate and be really interested in the value of sleep! In fact, a couple times in my journal, I wrote about nights I woke up and could really FEEL how my body had been working to regenerate me! I (re)discovered interests in clothing style, cults, food - cooking, nutrition, diets and policy in specific, and hoarding - all, as Kris put together, interests that seem to revolve around human habit and expression. It felt really good to allow myself to invest in these I don't want to say hobbies (seems disparaging), but areas of curiosity that have fed my growth as a human. I also feel I'm finding systems that allow these curiosities to feed one another, making it more efficient for me to pursue them. For example, I like to watch videos and listen to podcasts about my interests WHILE I cook. I saw a lot more live music than I thought I had, so I feel like I'm mak(ing) good on this intention/ desire. I took myself on a professional/ personal retreat to Myer-Big Island State Park and camped for a night.

I had a couple NASTY days and nights of drinking, decreasing my overall alcohol consumption (particularly casual consumption - I still tend to hit it hard on the big ones, but wish to do so with intention). I finally got to Dance Church, and stepped up my game (not as much as I would have hoped, but DID) on getting out to dance socially, at swing dances in particular. I officiated and MCed the wedding of two of my best friends - one of my deepest honors to date as a holder of friendships. I finally took a self-defense seminar. I coaxed Kris into letting us dog-sit and we did a lot of it!

How did you progress/ achieve, and what are areas of opportunity in relation to your intentions?

I think part of why I want to have more clear, literal intentions this year is that I am finding this question difficult to answer, cut and dried. Here's what I've sussed out:
  • Vitality - Bettering my diet and sleep: I definitely think I have progressed with this desire. I continue to cook more, expand my nutrition and other food-related knowledge, and have started to delve into research about sleep, as well as putting it into action. I definitely see myself continuing with this as an intention, continuing to place importance on sleep. 
  • Vitality - Having one purposeful physical experience per day in addition to profession: This included circuit workouts, yoga, etc. (not morning walks). I went in and out of being committed to this practice. Sometimes I lagged because I was sick, and found it the right thing to do to take a break. Sometimes it was just - not laziness - perhaps setting unrealistic expectations for what I could do in a day? I desire to continue working toward this goal, with building of reasonable expectations in mind as something that will help. I also want to add to the list of possibilities for this yoga in the living room (gotta get a mat!) and tapping on the tap board downstairs. 
  • Purpose - Social dancing and live music: I feel off and on on hitting that goal. I again think I may have been unreasonable in how much I thought I might go do this. I do think giving myself a pass when (if!) I am in rehearsal with Contempo is advisable, and also think planning to get these kicks more frequently though Dance Church, Temple Tuesdays and Sunday sessions is a good idea - they are more my speed time-of-day-wise! As for music, I want to be more planned about which shows I'll go to - maybe make it a goal to get more on my calendar. 
  • Purpose - Writing reactions to live music and dance shows: I came to this with more than I thought I had. I think I got disappointed in myself for not writing a reaction EVERY TIME I went, which looking back on it seems like an unreasonable expectation. Perhaps I'll hold myself to the intention to write them when I feel moved. I often do, so I am not worried that I WON'T actually do this. 
  • Purpose - Performing and choreographing more: I performed with Contempo three times and in my own work three times this year, now that I think about it (along with Nerdetting and various other little gigs). I basically released myself from trying for EE, and feel pretty confident in that decision. It was exciting to do those gigs and to start to learn interesting skills like fire twirling, but that was another one of those "I can get interested in anything!" scenarios. Would I like to twirl fire? Yes. Would I like to go to more festivals? Yes. Would I LOVE to keep building my own work? Yes. Hell Yeah or No (Sivers). I love this concept. I'm feeling really good in this category, and things look good for the coming year/s in terms of my plans for making - two shows a year through RS - a me project and the annual project, and occasional freelancing (specific opportunities I apply to, grants I receive, opportunities to create work for educational institutions) feels like an excellent balance. That said, I noticed how easy it was for me to get out of whack when too many of these things overlapped. It WAS helpful to recognize the ebbs and flows of my level of commitment throughout the year, though there were a couple of times that felt, despite that, like too much. I want to keep committing myself to looking further out and better understanding where things lie before saying Hell Yeah. I do have to see what happens with Contempo, but I am honestly feeling really at peace with whatever may come. 
  • Contribution - Donating 1% of income: Done, and will do it again! 
  • Contribution - Practicing my 'inner smile': Always working on this, and really am feeling my mindset and defaults change. Planning to change this to "practicing kindness." 
Step 5: Next year reflection questions -

What do you want to experience next year?

Performance, teaching, social dance, live music, good food I make, increased nutrition and food policy knowledge, increased fitness, increased ability to balance commitments, travel.

What continued and new themes emerged in your writings from the year that could use some of your focus?
  • Vitality: Embracing that gratitude is not about thinking, it's about noticing (Cain). 
  • Vitality: When writing, label not only when, but where as well. 
  • Vitality: Placing focus on moving, eating and sleeping for wellness - cooking often, having one purposeful physical experience daily outside of professional activities (walks (not including morning), tapping and yoga at home, circuit workouts, classes and social dancing. 
  • Vitality: Understanding complexity as a means of simplicity as the overarch of the human puzzle. 
  • Vitality: Expand yourself - including activities for growth (cooking, reading, listening to podcasts about style, food, cults, hoarding and any other interests!) within daily habits. 
  • Vitality: Camp three times. 
  • Vitality: Continued recognition of the ebbs and flows of my level of commitment throughout the year as a means of distributing my time, energy and attention resources, and the need to look further out and better understand where things lie before committing. Is this where expectation management plays in? Protecting my time before 9:30am whenever possible. Keeping time open and embracing the conditions to choose how to spend it (summer especially - ex: weather!). 
  • Vitality: Continue expansion of financial success with endeavors, understanding there will be ebb and flow given changes in professional commitments. 
  • Purpose: Social dance and live music experiences - attending Dance Church, Temple Tuesdays and Sunday sessions when I am not in night time rehearsals, and putting more live music shows onto my calendar and buying tickets to make it more likely I'll go! 
  • Purpose: Writing reactions to live music and dance shows I experience and posting them on the blog. 
  • Purpose: Successfully balance producing two fully-fledged productions and creating as a freelancer contracted by educational and performance institutions. 
  • Contribution - Donate 1% of income. 
  • Contribution - Practice kindness. Recognizing insecurities as opportunities. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

(My) Values and Living Them Out (as Human-Person Me)

A conversation with a dear friend yesterday about values and living them out got me thinking again about checking in on my own. It's been really important to me to be able to state them without looking back at any writing, but here we are, nearly to November: it's been nearly a year since I again defined how I want to think about all this (i.e. New Years), and I STILL cannot offer them up when prompted. This think-through is another chance to change that.

After this great conversation, I revisited my most recent check-in, and noted that the three words I had condensed down to still didn't feel quite right. This got me thinking again about "priority/ities," and how they function in our lives. To the same tune of thinking about "buckets" for how you divide your resources, I got thinking about buckets for collecting your priorities (or as I'm taking to discussing them, at least in this post, how you "live out your values"). While I am down with the "values" word, I think the "priorities" word has too much baggage for me. Instead, I'm leaning toward this:

Values and Living Them Out.

I also tend to lean away from the "mantra" word, as feels to me like a co-opting of something I don't entirely understand. So I'll stick with values. The thing I want to memorize/ that I am returning to after trying some words that didn't feel like they fit:


Even "Purpose" to me feels a little stagnant - it feels like a thing that exists rather than is constantly developing. Perhaps its just a matter of me reframing it for myself while remaining open to the idea of change. 

As for the "Living Them Out" part, this comes in so many ways for me, but there are three main categories I feel have emerged in my (copious) amount of time thinking about all this:


I think this is resonating for me because these three categories really serve all three of those above values. To me, "Growth" includes health and leaning into curiosities, which for me often intersect as subjects like food, cooking, sleep optimization, building presence and movement. It also serves my topical curiosities about things like music, mystical lore, fashion, personal finance, emergency preparedness and simplicity. Really, I believe curiosity and following to me tantamount to being a healthy human-person. In this way, Growth allows me to live out Vitality, Purpose (curiosity leading to new ways to find Purpose) and Contribution (therein helping me contribute more to others as a result of my own discovery of what is working for me in striving to better myself as a human-person). 

"Relationships" is my container (love this "Container" idea, Leo Babauta) for Kris, my parents and his and our brothers and sisters and my friends. I consider these to be my closest and most important relationships - I value the ones I have in working scenarios, though perhaps consider them to be a part of that "Purpose" value. That said, I also consider these listed Relationships to be part of my Purpose, as well as my Vitality of course, and a way that I am able to offer Contribution. It's all connected. My own work on myself an delving into curiosities often makes its way back to the people I care about, helping them figure out their own best modes of self and curiosities. Therein, the Relationships container fulfills all three of my values as well, in very interconnected ways.

And the big D, "Dance." It feels important to state that I am completely open to the idea that the label on this may change (or be added to) some day. For now, I feel Dance is also a big three container for my own Vitality (health, focus, dedication, determination, curiosity), Purpose (it feels most resonant here, as "Dance" and "Purpose" feel nearly interchangeable to me) and Contribution (it is my way of contributing to others through helping them find joy in moving their bodies, connecting to others, finding presence in themselves, connecting to history through education and performance). 


Values: Vitality | Purpose | Contribution
Living Them Out: Growth | Relationships | Dance

This is how I check in.