Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reading = thinking = writing....= more reading

Reading = Thinking = Writing.

For me.

A student of life. I may have mused on this previously, but it has been interesting, even in just a few weeks of reading the newspaper and books of my choice on a consistent basis, for me to realize how much such activities make me think and allow me to produce my own thoughts on the subjects I am tackling. I have been writing so much, not only in this blog, but in my regular journal and, in my artistic journal. I have really enjoyed creating my own curriculum.

Maybe the reason why so many creative people, and people in general, like to drink coffee, tea and other warm drinks in general is because they are consuming thermal energy. Transmitting of energy, whether outputting or inputting, is always spurring.

Free time - It has been being used to read the newspaper, read books, find music, observe and talk to people - this is not time-passing, but life-living and inadvertent research. These activities have gotten me generally thinking, and at that thinking creatively, more so than I have in quite awhile. While it is good to be doing things you consider valuable with your time, disallowing yourself to experience free time or unstructured time is actually backwards for people who do creative work such as me. I have actually already been dreaming about what the summer will hold for me schedule-wise. Serve doubles Mon Tues Wed, make 600 a week - 2400 in a month - put away half of that for about half the work I was doing last summer. Then I have 4 days every week to do with what I wish - which will most likely be a combination of reading, writing, observing, listening, taking dance class, creating choreography, etc. However, one of these four days will feature having no plans at all. And if I want to turn the four days into a week to go somewhere on a whim, I will damn-well do it. And this is acceptable because there are different things beyond this - a grad degree being the first of them.

Some interesting quotes from the book I am reading, 'The Rise of the Creative Class,' by Richard Florida:

"They like indigenous street-level culture - a teeming blend of cafes, sidewalk musicians, and small galleries and bistros, where it is hard to draw the line between participant and observer, or between creativity and creator."

"...average American living standards have risen to such an extend that material goods no longer confer the status they once did."

"Eclectic scavenging for creativity is not new."

"Good conversation has creative possibilities. In my own work, I often learn a great deal from talking with people in coffee shops and other such venues. I pick up observations and anecdotes from people who feel free to ramble. I listen to their ideas about work, leisure and community and this stimulates my own thinking. The creative faculties are fed by meeting and talking informally, by chance, with a diverse range of creative-minded others."

****This must be why I do this. Take for example two situations that I have found myself in within the last week. #1 - I get to talking with a guy in a coffee shop because he commented on my bike bag. This spurred discussion, which I found to be valuable at the time. Beyond this, we are now getting together to see a movie. This follow-up does not often happen, and I am curious about it. I did a lot of thinking on these chance sort of connections with people in August, and it has been the main source of my creative choreographic thought as well. Why do we, when a connection is initiated by someone we do not know, often shun that meeting during its moment especially, but also beyond allowing human connection to happen? Though we are more connected than ever, we are slo more private and closed-off than ever, with our PC's between us and real interaction. It was these thoughts that spurred me to say 'yeah, let's hang out,' when prompted. Of course, a natural answer to 'why do people not take these opportunities' is that these opportunities have real human consequences, because they involve real human people with real human feelings. Sure, it did not occur to me that this could be being looked upon as a date by the other end. Since making plans to attend a film festival, it DID occur to me, and I awkwardly addressed it with Kris, because I did not know if I should address it, if I shouldn't etc. What it came down to is open-ness I guess. I am trying to experience open-ness in meeting people as I live, but in the same vein, I want and need to experience open-ness with the important people in my life that are not chance-happenings, but rather, a result of cherished life-history. In conclusion, I decided to try and invite some friends along, so as to encourage the idea of chance-meeting and open-ness, but also to maintain the importance of real human feelings.
***The #2 happening this week related to talking randomly with others; today, I waited for quite a bit for my Ctrain home from Heritage Park. Naturally, I struck up a conversation with the guy sitting next to me on my bench, who happened to be here from the Phillipines for an internship. The conversation was all fine a good until her out of the blue asked if I am married. I was caught extremely off-guard and made somewhat uncomfortable. From there, he ended up asking why my boyfriend did not come with me, and asked if I wanted to hang out with some Phillipino guys. I responded no thanks, that I need to be careful as I am out, traveling by myself. The conversation went off in a different direction for the time being, which was just fine considering that we were still waiting for the train. However, it spiralled backward when he asked again if I had a calling-card. I said, no. He said 'You don't want any callers?' and I said 'NO.' At this point, I am thinking, 'how much more obvious can I be?' We went our seperate ways as we boarded the train, and it then occured to me - much of this could be a different in culture. Maybe it is a normal and acceptable thing within Phillipino culture to ask someone point-blank if they are married. In fact, maybe it is considered unacceptable to being talking alone with a woman who is married, I certainly have no idea. I did feel a little bad after being somewhat curt with him, because it seemed that he has been a little lonely during his time here and just wants to make some friends (other than the colleague he lives with). It is difficult for me to level with my actions considering the possiblity of cultural differences. Part of me says that it is really unfortunate that such differences are frequently what is keep people from crossing into one another's lives, and another part of me acknowledged that the greater part of the conversation was simply quite uncomfortable, and if I did not wish to talk further with this man, I should not feel obligated. Naturally, the personal-safety element within me dominated this situation and I did not exchange information with him (yes mom, nod a sigh of relief :) ), but I still have sadness, amidst the annoyance, within the dregs of my mind.

"Just people-watching is arguably a valid form of cultural exchange."

***I know my mom would like this one, as people watching is one of our frequent activities together. Thsis quote, and its subsquent paragraph, made me quite happy considering that so much of my artistic interest lies in the observation of people within their societies and what function them being themselves and being truly human has to offer to said society. Rack this one up as another validity point for social dance theory and jazz theory. By the time I am done with this year, I have a feeling that I am going to have quite a bit of such evidence to serve as a fantastic basis for not only my thesis ideas, but articulate ways to defend my artistic choices to a granting panel.

A side note that has come out my observation of my own choices for interest pursuits in my open time; I like read wine, newspapers, public radio, news television, historic sites, reading books, going to museums - I am an old women! Though, I find it funny to think that. When I meditate on why it is people spend countless hours preening to spend too much money on ridiculous drinks at 'my pretty-ness is my worth' clubs just to listen to shitty, American top-40 songs, I feel sad. And then I remember that I to am 23, and simply have different preferences. It feels altogether even silly to me personally to acknowledge my love of such things, considering how I used to look upon them as bench-marks of age. Maybe they still are, but I just have one too many cycles to go through for a life I will consider adequately interesting?

My time here so far as also caused me to do a lot of thinking regarding what I would like to do with my artistic thoughts, passions and drive. I have of course had several ideas, but a few new ones have come to light in being somewhere and doing something new;

- Production company. Two of the guys in my program have a 'production company' here in Calgary, and their business is to basically hire out their hip-hop dancers to perform at clubs, openings, etc. This seemed funny to me at first, until I thought about it a bit more in depth - I have spend countless moments advising my family-oriented colleagues and family friends against putting their children in competative dance, because it is a huge waste of money, when there are tons of community organizations who are always looking for such performances for free, or maybe even a little cash. if anything, children should not be paying to perform. Sure, I can certainly level with paying for instruction, but certainly not to perform. In hearing about this production company, I realized that such a thing could be something I could do my own way. I could get a big roster of dancers and choreographers together, listed by specialities, and keep them on the hook for events I find. Nursing homes, community festivals, business openings and parties. It would almost be like an informal agency, but not for the purpose of furthering careers - for the purpose of doing what we love to service our community. I would like to make a note to myself to talk to Joey and Cody about how they got it all put together, and how they run it.


I love to be entrepenurial, but it is sometimes difficult when you create a need for the performance and it only gets to live a few days. On the contrary, a model such as the one discussed above would allow for constant shift and performance. I could get different people to choreograph tap, modern, jazz, charater, and have different people to call upon to perform said forms. I really want to think about this one!

Another creative idea - in my time here, I have been thinking quite a bit about what I miss about home. Most of it has been rural and country-living oriented. I have filled many a journal page considering my feeling of pull between rural and city living, for my loves of what both have to offer. I also got to thinking about how much 'old-time' dance forms fit to my interests in research and performance. Further, I got thinking about how the MN Arts Board used to have 'Rural Arts Initiatives,' grants that existed for the specific purpose of bringing different art forms to rural MN communities. Going to Heritage Park today, a historical village featuring historical buildings to create a replica of a founding Canadian community and to communicate to modern people the way of life during that time, I realized how much I care for small-town living. The interconnectedness of the people, the hard work, the entrepenurial quality, etc. Though much of a rural life style is not something that I would choose for myself, I highly value said lifestyle, and like to contemplate it, further it and visit it. I had thought of the possibility of rural arts initiative before, but figured I would have to function as a teacher, and I was deterred. However, in thinking about it again, I was just thinking within the wrong teaching light. I do not love to teach technique (at least not to children), but I do think I would love teaching composition, or at its basis - creativity. I then also thought, 'why just children?' Such an initiative would NOT have to be just for children. It could be opened to all ages, and simply split into several sections for accomidation of age. Or even better yet, why split them? I have been getting really interested in ageism lately, and why not make it a point to make it an inter-generational class? It would take some planning, but why not? It could even be structured to be combined for some parts of the class, split for others, so as to encourage an efficient use of time. I would like to;

RESEARCH FORMER PROJECTS - Missoula Children's Theater?

I would form and title it as something like this; 'The MN Movement Creation Project.' Use 'Dance'? Use 'Choreographer'? I am not entirely sure, but I would want it to be a project that could involve all people, in specific all ages and genders, and would allow for people from rural MN communities interested in dance creation to get their hands wet in it. What would be even better would be low-cost (so as to accomidate for the needs of many rural people), and annuality. This way, people who are really interested in choreography and have no other resources, particularly children who have a deep interest and want to continue cultivating it, have an opportunity. Sure, there are plenty of dance studios, but not many of them offer composition classes or chances to showcase choreography. In other words, the need is there. The touring aspect is very interesting to me, because I love to be in transit, seeing things. From what I have heard of it from Shannon and Kris and Heather, I should really look into the organization of Missoula Children's Theater - a touring unit that seems to have a season. The sessions could last for a week at a time (maybe from 6-9 at night or something. though I would have to look into realistic it would be to think that people would dedicate that amount of time. I just do not feel like much could be accomplished in less time. Maybe it could be tues through Fri 6-9, culminating performance on Sat at noon or something. I would want to structure the experience as improvisation classes (intergenerational?), and then composition classes, with reading on the origin of creativity, and excersizes to develop it, and also - peer feedback? We would need a session within the first day about offering constructive criticism and observation, and then it would be lovely to integrate this into the classes, as an important part of being creative with movement is being able to process it, and to then communicate about it. The choreography sections would have to be limited to solos, duets and trios. Maybe even just solos, so we do not try to accomplish too much within too little a time. Although, creating units of people to work together (no more than three) with shared work time could allow for people to create larger pieces outside themselves, as well as people to spur off and share with. We may also want a session on music - how to find it, and what the presence of it entails. Costs would be minimal, mostly just staff. Myself, and depending upon the size of each group, between 3 and five additional teachers? We could try for homestays, or would just have to find cheap hotel housing. Beyond that, we could find a HS gymnasium for the performance and classes for free (most likely in summer than, yes? Particularly considering that we would not have to compete against kids school activities either). Other costs - hand outs for the classes. That is literally it. Wow, I am pretty much writing a business plan right now. Good thing it is documented - it will be easier to come back to when I am trying to write a grant, yes?

I am actually very excited at this prospect. And in regards to purpose - encouraging people to think creatively in a way that they normally do not get the chance to, and such creative thought spurs people into being more engaged citizens, friends, lovers, workers, people who live. In addition, this provides a much-needed educational element to kids in rural communities who are interested in choreography, who often have to wait until college for such an opportunity, if that even comes. There actually is a NEED for this. I just got my day planner to turn some of these thoughts into to-dos.

The other big thoughts of the day; In talking to Sarah, I cleared up something rolling around in my brain - why apply to all these schools in places where I may not even want to be? I do not want to live in Florida, I do not want to live in California (though I would LOVE to live in Frisco), etc. I WANT to travel, and what better a way than school? I WANT to be able to work while I am traveling - what better a way? I need affordable tuition, etc. So many factors have pointed me directly to Surrey. To the point where I think, 'why even apply anywhere else?' I have come to the conclusion that I am going to send my app into Surrey and see what happens. Seriously, why worry on it so much? I will have a PHD to get as well, and I can do that at yet another place (probably Riverside), so do what is right right now, yes?

Well, that was quite a bit of writing a quite a jumble of thoughts for one sitting. But I am relieved to have them out and documented....

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