Sunday, November 5, 2017

Making Good On/ Chaos

This weekend, I'm proud that I continued to hold myself accountable to my New Year's Intentions of seeing more shows, going to more classes and writing about it all. Making good on my promises to myself.

In the last week, I had the pleasure of seeing the Rebirth Brass Band play the Turf Club on Halloween, seeing Threads Dance Project's "Uncertain Reality" and attending a tap class and a class with a choreographer whose work is seeped in traditions from both France and Burkina Faso. Rebirth allowed me to celebrate many things I hold dear: sharing a space with strangers and friends alike to be in the moment of hearing improvised music and responding with improvised movement. What else do I need?! It was really awesome to hear them live again after having had the pleasure of catching them at their regular Tuesday night haunt in New Orleans, the Maple Leaf Bar. How inspiring it was to see that so many people of so many different backgrounds wanted to spend their Halloween night experiencing live jazz!

As for Thread's "Uncertain Reality," I have to appreciate a dance show that causes me to take interest in a mathematical and scientific concept. I really appreciate Karen's program note detailing that she has "always found artists in science and science in art." She further stated that she's always found choreographic inspiration in her knowledge of computer science and math. I have always found choreographic inspiration in my knowledge of music, and I do enjoy the moments I find myself feeling and seeing the math in the music I choose and the subsequent movement I make. It's all in there.

I do have to admit that I often found the sections with lyrics to be distracting. It's tough for me to admit that some of the compositional advice I gained in college and that has stuck with me is indeed true, as my irreverent parts want to speak out. There was so much beauty and shared element in the music choices across the whole of the piece that lyrics often invaded the mindscape I was creating for myself.

I found the shuffling section and Betsey's solo with the ring of fabric around her waist alongside the rings projected on the floor to be particularly moving. These and most other sections in the show illuminated the beauty in the connections and happenings that can come as a result of the inherent chaos of the world, and the inherent fact that we do not own control over all that happens to us. Putting this into writing gets me thinking about choreography versus improvisation: can a choreographed sequence speak to chaos theory (at least my bleak understanding of it) as well as an improv score might? I suppose it depends on whether or not the purpose of the action is to experience the concept via participation or observation. To a certain extent, whether it is improvised or choreographed is of no concern to an observer, as they'll see the movements they see. To another extent, and a point I tend to argue, the energies of performing choreographed versus improvised material are always different. What an improvised phrase in dance can have in spontaneity it can lack in performative quality, and that's just one example. Just something this show made me ponder.

Regarding McKnight International Choreographer Fellow Salia Sanou piece, I found my race dialogue to be different from what I had expected from the program notes and my assumptions about what the cast would look like. Combining what I took to be a mostly white cast and the use of Mylar safety blankets, I found myself pondering how we choose to insulate ourselves or open our resources to others. That actually really worked for me, though I found the Billy Holiday and Nina Simone music to be somewhat discordant. That said, that discord could be what made me take away what I did - it made me uncomfortable. Both Sanou and Karen's work were performed beautifully by her versatile crew of dancers.

It was very interesting to take his class the next morning, though not in the way I expected: I was expecting to really be investigating parallels to his choreography, and instead was fascinated by how the class was directed by him in conjugation with a translator. I've never been in a dance class with a translator, and one of the program directors actually mentioned how rare it is that a translator in a dance class would also be a dancer/ dancing through it like in this case. There was a simultaneous immediacy and separation in taking in the information from two different sources: physical information primarily from Salia and verbal information primarily from Emily.

As for the movement itself, I really enjoy it, and found myself wondering how much of it was traditional Bobo ritual (as mentioned in Salia's bio of his early training) and how much of it was from his experience training with African ballets and in France. I found it so interesting to feel so much parallel between the footwork, rhythms and isolations/ initiations we did and my jazz experiences. It was actually pretty profound! I feel really grateful that I live somewhere we are fortunate enough to have guests like him come to us. Perhaps Dana and Mary Ellen will be the recipients of two of my gratitude notes this season. I should stock up on blank cards!

Lastly, the tap class. It was in over my head and knew I would be, so I actually really enjoyed it! I didn't expect to be on top of it all, and expectation management turned out to be key. It actually felt really good to be in a dance space where I felt really challenged, taking what I could and leaving what I couldn't. It was empowering to make decisions about what I'd really try for, to manage myself throughout class and to not feel embarrassed about being at the bottom of the ability level in the class. It was rally good for me as an educator to feel what one of my own students in that position might be feeling. I  can encourage them to take it all in stride, to be proud of themselves for the progress they can manage and to know that good folks will support their being their and putting their best effort forth!

What a great week/ end. I'm gonna keep making good on/ embracing the chaos.

Monday, October 23, 2017


So many ways to think about this word. I really like this word. Hell, I've named my next show with this word. It's gotten me considering several things, all as a slew together: the subtle ways the weather shifts, the open-minded ways I approach a lot in my choreographic process (unexpected for me, looking in on it), the cools of the tap dancers I saw on Friday night - their chills were also their cools.

Parallels between chill and cool. Cool down. Chill out. In writing these things, my immediate thought was that these sayings are responses to people being "too emotional" or "too fired up." "Too" something. This connotation is somewhat of a bummer to me - I've long been someone who has prided herself on not being afraid to show an emotion or an opinion, and I think there is a valuable place in the self for willingness to react. That said, this observance of self has been shifting: as I continue to embrace the idea that personal identity is ever-changing, I'm thinking of myself as more and more even-keeled, open and interested in considering the grey matter (thanks Kris :) than I've been in the past. Bumped up against my feeling seen as "too cool and collected, needing to let vulnerability burst out" in grad school AND still as hot-headed at times among friends and family who have known me for a long time makes the influence of the perception of others a confusing contribution to self-perception.

Perhaps this is why I feel so surprised when I am so chill about so many things when I am creating: where the arms go, expression at this part . . . That said, there are things I am NOT chill about at all: rhythm in the feet, facings . . . This realization feels sort of like an artistic metaphor for the idea that we are not bound to one side of our Rubix Cube of personality. In actuality, its components are always shifting and creating new options because life is like that - it's a constant state of flux with many options for reaction. How short are we selling ourselves and others when we believe that our sides (choices, ideas, potentials for reaction) are fixed? 

I have to admit that given it's contrast to definite-opinion, always-highly-specific Erinn (ex: rhythmic footwork), chill Erinn's approaches (ex: letting the upper body experience the rhythm in the lower body in a way that feels good and shows individuality) when making art are very exciting! It's just been interesting to realize this contrast and consider how it affects me not only personally, but professionally.

Watching the dancers in the Twin Cities Tap Festival showcase performance continued this loop on chill that I've been considering for the last couple months. Again, part of what drew/ draws me in is the emphasis put on sharing tools (tap shoes, particular rhythms, facings) but using them in entirely different ways according to individual approach (composition of groove in the body, the way it manifests, differences in dynamic). This is the stuff that makes vernacular dance so appealing to me: sharing tools to build community that encourages space for individuality within in it. I felt so inspired to get my tap shoes on, and hope I make good on that on 11/5 by attending Kallie's company's first class!

To close out: that chill in the air. It's a subtlety that causes both minor shifts, like in layers of clothing, and major change, like the setting off of a thunderstorm. Nature's perfect way of encapsulating the idea that maybe such extremes can and do live in harmony with one another, not only in the weather, but in us as well.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Looking Back and In

This last week has seen me looking back and looking in quite a bit, all pushed by live performances.

Coming here to look back and in, it was hard to see that I hadn't written here since Garrett. I guess that processing was all far more private than this might be. Just hard to see that date and think "pre-loss" and "post-loss." I wonder if it'll be that way forever? Probably not. I've lost others, but not like this. I don't have much more to say about that right now.

Beyond this: I came to write a post that reflects on my recent live music and performance experiences, and the above train of thought got me thinking about how I was at the Paul Simon concert at Eaux Claires while it was conspiring. Something felt really tender about that concert. Was it that? Life cycle. Aliveness in live music/ performance. Paired with me pondering WHY it's so important to me to go see live music and performance, it's really hitting home. Aliveness. Feeling the pulsing of the sound waves through your bodies and those around you. Experiencing this sweet sense of being in the moment while simultaneously experiencing the past, being brought there by a reliable soundtrack you've been able to count on at various times in your life. Transcending the weights and feeling weightless for a little while, like what keeps you down doesn't even exist for a bit. That last idea on it's own sounds a little dangerous, like escapism. Perhaps not when coupled with this: at it's best, live music and performance experiences allow you to escape momentarily to renew your juju, giving you a renewed sense of inspiration and purpose.

I definitely feel these things. They are why I keep coming back. They are why I wish that I prioritized seeing live music and performance more. But I'm making good on that. I've joined as a way to track the live music I've seen, and I think seeing it all listed out like that is really going to be inspirational for me. It will require some work - I've already had to add shows - but I think it'll be worth it.

I think I've actually been having a really good year seeing live performance: music in particular, but I've also been trying to keep myself accountable for seeing more live dance too, which is surprisingly easy to bypass when you are a dancer yourself (well, sometimes it's WHY you end up opting out . . .). It was a New Years Intention for me to get myself back in the game with seeing live music and dance, so I'm glad I'm making good on it. "Don't wait for tomorrow" - thanks for having my back here, Hanson. Why wait? Go see stuff now. It's what I hope people are thinking when they are on the fence about coming to MY shows!

I've been approaching a lot lately with a mindset of "What else would I be doing?" At one point (and I'm likely to cycle through something similar again in my life), this would have been a dangerous outlook: I have a tendency to over-commit and under-enjoy because of that. After well over a year of working to change that, I felt myself go a little too far the other way, sometimes leaving too much time open or bypassing things that would have been awesome, cherish-able experiences in the name of not overextending myself. I guess sometimes it takes over-correction to eventually land in the middle.

I keep looking for that middle. Fortunately, that middle recently landed me seeing both both legendary tapper Savion Glover at local favorite jazz club The Dakota and Hanson at local favorite rock club First Ave in the span of less than a week. I'd had the Hanson tickets since March (the day they went on sale, to be exact), but the Savion show was an excellent last-minute decision. I'm glad I found the middle on that one :)   The details of the Savion show were both expected and unexpected. The set up of the solo musician and dancer, to me, seems like an excellent and obvious pairing. That said, it's not being done. Especially at that caliber. The fact they never took a break was definitely surprising to me, but it really worked. I actually loved being able to get absorbed in the moment without having to re-invest after a break. I do wonder if their stamina and aesthetic choices might have changed more if they had, but stamina at least didn't appear to be an issue. I hope this tour paves the way for more like this - I'm so glad the Dakota took a chance on a music and dance act: seems like it paid out for them too!

Next up: Hanson. I am NEVER disappointed when I go see these guys. After pondering it a bit, I think I've figured out that I've seen them a whopping seven times. And it took me until THIS year to see Radiohead. I guess I'm realizing that Radiohead and Hanson are my top two when it comes to bands. There is something to be said for the history you develop with a set of music: when you've liked a band for 14 and 20 years, respectively, their music comes along with you for major parts of your life, and that's no small thing.

Back to how the show was: again, NEVER disappointed. And I actually don't think much of that has to do with the fact that I've been an in-it-for-the-music fan for at least 16 years (those first four were as much about relationship fantasies as they were the music). It also wasn't just because it was an opportunity to celebrate one of my best friend's birthdays and 20 years of our friendship (kindled over a mutual love of Hanson, of course!). They really just put on a killer show. As somewhat of a music snob, it made me believe in pop music again. It reminded me that great pop-rock-soul music can be just the tonic my spirit needs to keep space for joy (and sometimes pain!).

My behavior post-show also made me wonder what my teens years would have been like with YouTube. As I've told my concert pal, I really don't think we would have gotten anything done! I suppose I have to be glad YouTube didn't hit until I had developed a modicum of skill in self-regulation. Other post-show realizations: it's pretty cool to note that your teenage dreams were just that: teenage dreams. At 13, my ideal life included Taylor Hanson being my boyfriend. Now, I look in on their personal lives and realize that as a pretty liberal gal who has her own dreams and ambitions, many of their values do not match with mine. Sure, I kinda knew this, being that they've always been quite religious and conservative. After a little digging (yes, I watched a whole lot of video and read a whole lot of articles in this post-show, renewed-zeal-for-Hanson moment), I really knew.

In short, I'm glad for my continued zeal (plus some additional perspective gained via age) for not only Hanson in specific, but live music and performance in general. I hope to also continue holding myself to writing about my experiences. It's cathartic.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

WIth or Without

I think I have understood and operated by the idea of 'with or without' for a long time. When given the choice to make something work as is or get something new, I always go with 'if its not broke don't fix it.' As far as I can remember, I have always been quite frugal. That said, I recognize I've had the privilege of choosing to be so. I've never been in a position where I didn't have a support system to help me through if something got bad, which I feel has helped me choose less.

My developing interest in simple living/ minimalism/ intentionality/ mindfulness/ life design/ whatever you want to call it has caused me to think a bit about this, both consciously and subconsciously. Also leading me to write today is the London and Greece trip Kris and I just had the pleasure of taking. I find I always end up pondering and researching cultural differences when I travel to far off lands, and 'with or without' was quite a constant consideration on this trip. We landed in London at a time where they are digging more practically into what 'Brexit' is actually going to look like. We landed in Greece in the midst of more political upheaval over their debt and austerity measures. These travels next to one another did a lot to illuminate 'with and without,' 'have and have not.'

Britain wants out of an alliance created in homage of 'all over one,' and Greece is demonstrating how, despite good intentions, 'all over one' can be very difficult to execute. It was very interesting to have conversations with people from both places IN both places. Part of this is because it made me feel proud that Kris and I work to keep ourselves informed and empathetic and it shows. Most of it was because it gave me an even clearer sense of how nothing is universal, yet there are many ties that bind. More and more so.

My train of thought on this is not sure which station to pull into, so I may let it hang in the air for a bit. Back to the pull-together idea of 'with and without.' A major thing I noticed, particularly in Greece, was space use. Space in aged major metropolitan areas is really at a premium. I again realized, over and over, how truly young the United States is in the grand scope of 'history as we know it.' Standing among remnants of 7000+ year-old civilizations did that to me, even though it was really hard to completely comprehend how ancient the things I was seeing really are. Back to space. Though I have indeed thought about it before, I was struck by how tiny the streets were. No parking lots. More people on the streets. Coming home to big streets and parking lots was both shocking and completely unsurprising.

There is plain surprise for me in how much I actually did crave open space after being in Athens for the last three days of our trip. I really do (and I'm sure I'm not alone) take for granted not only the amount of space we have here, even in the midst of our metro area, but also how clean it is. How our public spaces are in general so well taken-care-of. I found myself realizing that as much as I love travel and adventure in general, I do crave home. Routine/ rhythm. Place.

I wish to think of myself as a constant adventure-seeker. In this, I was sort of disappointed in myself when, four days out from the end of the trip, I started to feel antsy to come home. To get back to work. The more I thought about it, I also realized that the later of those two statements was a large part of why I was ready to 'get back to it.' I love my work. I am fortunate to spend almost all of my time doing things I truly enjoy, and that goes not only for my work, but all components of my life.

Adventure-seeking comes in more forms than just travel. As the result of a lot of personal work in learning to be mindful, I am coming to believe more and more that all the things we choose to experience, should we choose to see them this way, can be adventure. So here's to the adventure of owning a home. Of building my own work in something I care deeply for. In loving my people. In tasting my food.

With/out space. With/out time. With/out energy. Onward.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Years Intentions

I create my own reality . . . Perception

Vitality | Purpose | Contribution


What I'd like to both give and receive/ how I'd like to approach the New Year:
  • Awe
  • Whimsy
  • Prosperity
  • Empathy
  • Love
What I'd like to experience in the New Year:
  • Dance classes in the styles of my interest (African, Afro-Modern, Tribal Fusion, House, tap, hip-hop styles/ plan weekly)
  • Social dancing (swing nights, House nights, Hipshaker, Hotpants, Worldwide Discotechque/ alone and then get people there?!)
  • Regularly writing/ creating about these experiences (as research/ next morning writing session)
  • Teaching classes and producing shows (engage people with the embodiment of music/ it's my job!)
  • Regular creation (of nuggets or pieces of choreography/ self-directed when not working toward a show)
  • Travel (planned - CO, May trip, NDEO national conference)
  • General horizon expansion (possible on a daily basis/ if you let it be . . . Perception)
  • Live music/ with friends (updated by JamBase!)
  • Continued development of balance
Where I want to go in the New Year: 
  • Colorado (in April to visit friends - ticket booked!)
  • Big Trip (in May, hoping for Greece or Norway!)
  • NDEO National Conference in San Antonio (in November - dates are on my calendar, working on a proposal)
What I want to learn in the New Year: 
  • About the dance and music forms I love for continued progress
  • Potential discovery of new to me and related dance and music forms
  • About food, specifically production, digestion and nutrition, and how to work that information into my cooking
What I want to change in the New Year: 
  • Interrupt the ease with which I opt out while keeping balance

New Years Intentions 2017 - Proccess


Arrived on a softer word . . . resolutions are something the UN makes. I make intentions. Ideas that will buoy me as I continue toward living with purpose. Like many years, what is coming out is not very literal. I am coming to find more and more that purposeful actions come about from purposeful considerations, and I've seen this guide the things I do. The ways I eat, how I treat my body and my friends and family, how I invest in personal growth and my passions and how that contributes to others is all a result of the intentions I hold for how I want to live.

"I believe in mind over matter, and I've made my mind up to travel in time . . ."

I create my own reality . . .

And in it today, I am a fairy.
In it today, I everyone is my friend and I am theirs.
In it today, I will go to the moon.

Input/ Output

Interconnectedness (tuning in, feeling)
Presence (improvisation, listening, responding)
Energy (dancing, loving, eating, hugging)
Curiosity (discovery, experiences)
Awe (I find)
Whimsy (I find)
Abundance (I find)
Empathy (I give)
Love (I give)
Value (creates direction)
Pursuits (applies it)

Output/ Input

I create my own reality.

All the above, put simply. There are so many ways this idea rings true. In how I feel, in how I treat myself and others, in how I spend my time, energy and money. I am almost disappointed in how 'truist' this phrase sounds, yet I am still attracted to it's room for whimsy. 

I'll sit on it for a moment.


I decided this year that I wanted to try self-reflection and development processes for both the personal and professional aspects of my life. That said, just as I've found over the years in deciding to combine my personal and professional journals, and in line with my interest in simplicity, I am finding that these two objectives are really not that different. They keep crossing over one another. I have a feeling that in the end, I'll end up combining them.

I am glad that I am starting to identify this as important professional development, because I get very little of that if it's not self-imposed. In a way, this is a bummer. In another (more dominant) way, I am actually glad it's my responsibility and mine alone to make sure I am evaluating my own work and planning for ever-increasing success.

Word ( Perception

Career Assessment (Nov Star Tribune): Only answer

If there were no barriers of time or money, I'd work as: A dance artist :)

My professional life would improv if: I got to dance more. Define dance more - take more class. Define take more class - take more classes I really want to take, even if they are on free evenings and weekends, as I think Kris would want me to be doing what I want too - so African classes, Afro-modern, be willing to chip in to pay more to go to tribal Fusion classes and making space for House workshops, tap classes and hip hop classes. Maybe rather than trying to go when I end up available, I should be more diligent about planning out each week ahead of time according to what's offered. Again, define dance more - go out social dancing more. Define go out social dancing more - going Swing dancing and such. Define - once the Contempo show is over, going to Th night swing (ICEHOUSE industry night Sundays, Hipshaker, Hotpants and Worldwide Discotech - may need to stop even trying to get anyone to come with me, go and THEN invite people!).

My professional life would improv if: I spent more time writing about the research aspect of why I want to dance more - understanding the direction of jazz through analysis of how people are melding presentational and social dance forms today. Solution - spending some time writing after my experiences going out or training or seeing shows.

My professional life would improv if: I continue regularly making space for choreographic exploration. Once my April show is over, I'd really like to go back to multi-weekly movement sessions of my own where I create nuggets that help me know where I am, generate and potentially provide seeds for whats next.

My professional life would improv if: I got more professional development travel funding. Not worth changing a current structure I otherwise enjoy, just worth noting. I appreciate that Kris sees the value in me attending conferences, and I will keep doing so.

The job I've enjoyed most so far has been: Dance artist :)

Five things I want to achieve in my career: I'd like to work full-time in a university when I am older and less able and interested in performing a lot. I'd like my own choreography funded well enough that I can pay dancers for rehearsal and performance, project by project. I'd like Rhythmically Speaking well-funded enough that we consistently fund the annual show year to year, paying each choreographer an average of $3,500 - $4,000 (estimate for paying self and 4 dancers $10 an hour for 60 hours, rehearsal space and other creative costs). I'd like to regularly perform with well-regarded choreographers whose work I am interested in and get paid for it. I'd like to positively impact the scholarship in and general opinion in the larger dance community of jazz and American vernacular dance. I recognize these ideas as not super-meta or general, but they are what made sense for me to consider at the time of this writing.

Three crazy ideas I'd pursue if I could: Doing a national version of Rhythmically Speaking. Starting MN and national tours of RS shows. The Charlie Brown Christmas dance show. I don't know that this one is crazy, and I might try to make a small iteration of it my next big project. Maybe we could do a studio showing of it around Christmas 2017 and try to actually do the show for Christmas 2018?

My ten best assets for the world of work are: Tenacity, dedication, curiosity, enthusiasm, organization, self-direction, leadership, charisma, self-reflection, willingness.

The things that matter most to me are: My relationships, my health, movement and dancing, sharing the joy of moving to music with others. It has been occurring to me lately that many people have self-interest (inherent in American culture) without balancing it with community-interest (as Ive learned is very important in many African cultures) and I feel I can help uncover and repair that gap by helping people feel them simultaneously through jazz and American vernacular dance improvisation and other such class scenarios (as it is an amalgam of these values physicalized).

Passion/ Purpose Ven Diagram (Project Happiness)

My friend Emily shared this and it just struck me, so I made my own version. I am realizing going through some of these exercises I've found this year that I certainly do not need help figuring out what my passion or purpose is right now, so much as I need to consider more carefully how to make the best of it, allowing myself to grow while contributing to others and maintaining a well-designed life in general.

Your Top Five (things to commit your energy to): I actually did not write down where I found this (shame on you, academic!). I like this idea of continually reconsidering what these things are. That said, this idea really didn't define how deeply or specific one should get with these. It kind of reminds me of the 'Hotspot' idea outlined in the "New Year's Resolution Guide" from in this, you identify the hotspots of where your energy is going, and then consider where you want it to go. Considering this idea, I think I've actually be doing a really good job this year of balancing energy toward my desired hotspots, and I think I've actually got mine narrowed down to just three things:

Vitality                    Purpose                Contribution

Including things such as:

Nutrition                 Relationships        Joyful experiences
Exercise                  Passion                  Helping others experience music embodiment
Mental                    Intrapersonal         Encouraging self-realization
Financial                Interpersonal          Encouraging interconnectedness

I'm gonna stick with a top three :)

New Years Questions (The Accidental Creative Podcast):

What do you want to experience this new year?: I want to travel more, even considering just little trips opportunities for mind-expanding travel. Seems that this will work out, as we are planning to take a trip in May. This said, I may even open this beyond just travel and get down to the root of suggesting this as a desired experience: I wish to expand my horizons and see new things. These two things are possible on a daily basis if you let them be. Perception. I also wish to dance more, something discussed above in detail. I also want to experience more live music with friends. I also want to continue experiencing balance, something I have been consciously working toward.

Where do you want to go in the new year?: I actually feel like I spoke to this quite a bit above. I have to admit that I am afraid to reach too far on this. I thought about making it a goal and putting it in writing to finally see Radiohead live in 2017, but research showed that it's likely not possible for this year given certain circumstances, so I'll have to settle for going to great lengths to see them the next time they tour the US. I'll also add I'd like to visit Colorado (ticket already booked!), and I'd like to go to the NDEO National Conference (definitely happening :)). I'm glad I've had enough foresight about conference planning that I didn't look to 'blow my load' this summer and then not feel like I have the travel funds for October. That said, I suppose there were just no seriously exciting summer opportunities I've come across, so that helps (unless I am awarded the Next Step grant, which would allow me to travel for movement conferences!). Regarding reach, I guess I feel a little sad that I don't want to reach. Perhaps that is because I already know we are going to take a big trip! Hoping for Greece or Norway.

What do you want to learn in the new year?: I would like to keep learning about and progressing in the dance forms I love, which will have a positive impact on my teaching, choreography and performance. I'd also like to keep learning about food, specifically production, digestion and nutrition, and how to work that information into cooking.

What do I want to change?: I want to interrupt the ease with which I choose not to go out to do things I'd enjoy (live music, dance shows, dancing) because it's easier and cheaper to stay home. This is hard to note because I do also believe in listening to what we really want, and if I really want to not have another drink, to stay home for an evening, etc., I want to listen to that. I'll have to seek balance for this.

Career Vision and Goals (UC Berkley): I realize that I have a mission, but have not split down specific goals from it. I suppose it's safe to say that I have the goal to fulfill my mission by creating opportunities for people to experience music embodiment through classes (teaching), performance (choreography, performance and organizing) and scholarship (conference presentations. At this point, I don't know that I am interested in getting more specific about this. I am learning, trial by error, about how to best balance all these methods for fulfilling my mission, and am working to listen carefully so I know when to shift where I am putting my energy. As those shifts become more consistently toward and away from certain things, perhaps I will become better able to more specifically define these goals. Another career goal I suppose I've considering somewhat obvious but wouldn't hurt calling out is to make a living in dance teaching, performance and scholarship. A lot of this writing isn't very 'SMART Goal,' but I think some of it is more than it has been in the past. I think I have a good sense of what I need to be SMART goal and what I don't, and perhaps I need less of this because I tend to be a very self-directed and self-motivated person.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Year in Review

I originally came across these questions a couple years ago in a social media post by my friend Stephanie Johnson, and have enjoyed doing this since. Here is another go!

1.) What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
Bought a house, performed and choreographed with an entertainment company, showed my own work professionally at our region's ACDA, presented at an NDEO conference, worked in a coffee truck!

2.) Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make any for next year? 
My new years resolutions have become less and less literal over the years, so I don't really feel I 'keep them' now so much as use them as guideposts for continued growth. I think I did a lot of self-directed learning about living a purposeful life in all it's aspects this year, a curiosity driven by last year's resolution to understand everything as vibrating spectrum. As for 'resolutions' for next year (considering finding a term that feels more fitting to me), filling this out is part of that involved process :)

3.) Did anyone close to you give birth?
I'm sure I won't even be able to keep track of all the babies: Sarah, Mandy had twins, Karis, Sarah BE, so many babies.

4.) Did anyone close to you die? 
Yes. This one feels tough to clarify, as there was one death of a friend that was very close at one time. It happened between the deaths of two people who felt like close friends because of my connection to their artistry. This succession of loss made me think even more deeply about how to be purposeful.

5). What countries did you visit?
Didn't go out of the country this year, but went to awesome conferences in Dallas and Newport, RI.

6.) What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Funny looking back at what I noted I wanted for 2016 (to work actively toward making space and time for scholarship and choreography): I was very successful in carving out space and time for choreography, and I feel really good about that. Regarding scholarship, I tried, and kept bumping up against walls. It took loosening my attachment to what I said I wanted to realize that what I said and what I actually desire are perhaps different right now. In light of this, I have actually decided to back down on pushing out writing in favor of focusing more carefully on actually dancing; choreographing, performing and being a student/ experiencer. In that, one thing I'd like to have is more experiences with the dance forms that intrigue me most. I already have a 'deliverable' for that; I will again apply to the MRAC Next Step Grant with a bent on attending some conferences surrounding forms about which I am curious, positioning those experiences as research about the junction of the self and the community that happens in jazz and American vernacular dance forms, and how that can inform my choreography, teaching and performance.

7.) What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory and why? 
April 21st - the day Prince died.

8.) What was your biggest achievement of the year?
The first thing that comes to mind is buying the house. Looking back on the year, I also feel really good about my experience at the NDEO jazz conference and the amount of production output I created; Dancescape, Circulate, Circus McGurkus 1 and 2, Rhythmically Speaking. That said, I want to be sure to keep highlighting for myself that there is a difference between busywork and deep work. I want to keep conscious about defining when I am doing which, with a focus toward the later.

9.) What was your biggest failure?
According to the intentions I set for myself for the year, my biggest failure was not making more progress on a new piece of scholarly writing. That said, I believe I am making excellent progress in being purposeful with everything in my life, and I'm coming to see that pushing writing out of myself because I said I would just to keep a category of my professional life active is not very purposeful. Doing so belongs to the autopilot I operation system I am rejecting. Rather, I want to spend both my personal and professional time on what I want most, and clearly, since the article I was working on wasn't progressing, I don't really want it. I am definitely learning from this scenario, and keeping some focus on answering the question of "How do you want to spend your time in 2017?"

10). Did you suffer illness or injury?
I can't remember anything about the 'toe injuries' I referenced in last year's write-up. I did experience some injury this year in the painful culmination of poor-patterning amounting to inability to step down on the ball of my left foot without pain. I ended up quite grateful for the injury; it could have been far worse than it was, and I learned a lot from it after Karla wisely told me, about injuries, to "learn everything you can from it." Wise advice, not only for handling injuries . . .

11.) What was the best thing you bought?
Probably the house . . . but I do like my sweatshirt dress from Etsy :)

12. Where did most of your money go?
See above (again!). That, and building savings back up after paying the downpayment.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Life design/ intentionality and purposefulness applied to all parts of life. I also dug deeper into food and moved toward vegetarian/ veganism, as well as habit research. I really loved the Cloud Cult album "The Seeker" and the Kneedelus album, and certainly went through some digging into the Bowie and Prince catalogues. I also got pretty excited about talking walks.

14. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?
Happier, Thinner, Richer :)   May that process continue until any element should pause or reverse.

15. What do you wish you'd done more of? 
Going out social dancing. Time with friends.

16. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I feel I balanced things out pretty well this year. Having a hard time thinking of what I'd really say to this, which I suppose is good!

17. How did you spend Christmas?
Liebhard's Christmas Eve and Olson's Christmas Day.

18. What were your favorite TV programs?
Walking Dead even though I wanted and tried to quit, Gilmore Girls in preparation for the reboot, Agents of Shield.

19. What were your favorite books of the year?
Again, I didn't read for pleasure nearly as much as I would have liked to. If that means it's not a main leisure priority for me, I suppose that's ok, I just really do enjoy it when I do it!

20. What was your favorite music from this year?
Discussed above, I also really enjoyed Radiohead and Polish Ambassador's new releases (A Moon Shaped Pool and Dreaming of an Old Tomorrow, respectively). I also got to see Weezer again for the first time since high school, this time with Kris, which was really awesome. It got me going on their catalogue again, and made me realize I had missed a lot of new releases! The White Album didn't end up knocking me over the head with joy, but it definitely has some good stuff and I am grateful for the renewed interest in them. I ALSO NEARLY FORGOT that I got to go to the Newport Jazz Festival this year. It was incredible to see Robert Glasper and Kamasi Washington, who I had gotten into somehow near the start of the year. I spent a lot of time in the yearly part of the year with Bowie's last release Blackstar, and was embarrassed to realize that an Emancipator slipped past me in 2015 (Seven Seas). This album was really informative to my ideas of correlation between habit and repetition in music, particularly jazz-influenced EDM in regards to my own interests right now.

21. What were your favorite films of the year? 
I don't get to the movies much, and the ones I actually go see in the theater tend to stand out more in my memory. "Fantastic Beasts" was really quite incredible!

22. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? 
31. Still didn't get to Valleyfair. Tried. Maybe I'll go alone . . . I had people meet me at the VFW this year for drinks and Hotpants. It was pretty fun when I let go of the desire to always be surrounded by a crowd. This year it falls on the Saturday before Easter. Not sure right now what I'll do, but I imagine I'll cook up a good plan :)

23. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More dancing. ALWAYS.

24. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Reduction, mixing and matching favorite items that have tended to fall into my favorite color pallet of red, black, grey and white, handmade whenever possible!

25. What kept you sane? 
Continuing to delve into life design/ intentionality/ purposefulness. Again, that said, I think I may be getting to a gorge-point with it and may need to reduce the amount of input I'm taking in on it all and just do. Also, meditative morning walks and realizing that when you operate with more purposefulness in general, there is less insanity.

26. What was a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016?
Many. Let's see which ones flow out effortlessly: to learn everything you can from any given moment or situation and to encouraging relentless curiosity. Those are the two that came out easiest. What else . . . that purposefulness limits stress and allows everything to feel whimsical, that choosing this allows me to create my own reality and therein find even more whimsy . . . I am on my way to something good for the eventual resolutions, though I'm not there yet :)