Friday, February 20, 2009


I great many days between posts. I have not had much time to process quietly to myself through words for quite a bit. The last couple weeks have been a constant stream of goings-on; this is not a complaint, but rather, just something to notice. I cannot suggest, however, that I have no strong feelings regarding what was keeping me busy. A dance festival that I had choreography in, Kris coming to visit, rehearsal for a show for DJD and classes are all REALLY wonderful things to keep busy with.

Walking home after cashing my check today from DJD, it hit me that this is my job right now - performing. I felt exhausted, and had a check in hand to compensate for said exhaustion. What a great feeling. I have been paid for dance before, but not as much (for performing) and not as regularly. It occured to me on my walk that this could be the situation all the time. Of course, I am fully aware that you can make a living in just dance, even just performing, but I have not experienced it quite as fully up until now. A good feeling indeed.

I have also had some revelations regarding teaching, as I have been doing quite the amount of subbing as of late. I always through I just did not care for teaching much and that I just was not very good at it, but that is not it at all - it was just the content of what was being taught, and to whom. I will put it this way - I am not a children's ballet teacher. I have been subbing adult funk and modern, and have very very much enjoyed myself. Beyond that, the students have enjoyed themselves as well, making it clear by coming up after class and asking where I normally teach (to which I have to sadly respond "Nowhere at the moment!") With adults and forms I am interested in, I can communicate clearly and comfortably, and can really see a change when I provide insight to the class. It is so exciting to see the concepts get embodied. I have of course experienced that with advanced dancers in the choreography that I have created, but there is just something special about seeing a beginning student have a lightbulb flash in their brain - I am usually equally to MORE excited than them when this occurs! I have been able to gather that I truly do enjoy teaching, and have made it another quest for before I leave Calgary to have solid beginning and advanced jazz classes ready to teach, to bring back to the Twin Cities. I met with Joanne about this, and she provided me some of her insight as a teacher, as well as the information that we are welcomed to check out any videos in the DJD library, which include videos of some of the company dancers teaching specific techniques (Luigi, Matt Maddox, Betsey Hauge, etc.) I have been doing my best to write down some good, solid basics of these masters to use in class, but it most certainly will be helpful to have a video to reference when really trying to get it all notated solidly. I am feeling very excited about the idea of having these solid classes to try and offer back home - try to find a Y, a studio, somewhere (I was thinking maybe Tapestry Folk Dance Center?) to offer a beginning adult jazz class so I can get the practice teaching, as well as begin to further stir interest in the form at home.

As for the next choreographic project, I suppose I should contenplate the last one before moving on. Alberta Dance Explosions went fabulously. There were a couple tech fumbles on closing night, but it was solid other than that. Our tech on that Monday night went longer than I expected, but that was due to the fact that they actually hung some specials for me, which was a lovely treat. Tech run Tuesday, public dress rehearsal on Wednesday, the same day that Kris came in. I actually felt that dress rehearsal was the best run of the piece we had. Good thing the audience was full! The audience was close to sold out every night of the run, which was also very pleasant. I had a great time getting to meet some other area choreographers and seeing what they had to offer. I also really enjoyed seeing how they ran their festival as well, as someone who would like to put together more such shows myself. The one big thing I did note was that they offered a survey to each choreographer at the end - a splendid idea, and I was sure to fill it out and return it promptly. I know I always love to get feedback, and they certainly deserve to receive some after providing us each an opportunity to showcase out work. I wanted to be sure they knew I appreciated the opportunity, so I made cards for the key players. Closing night was lovely - my dancers got me a gift (the sweetest hood-scarf ever, which has barely come off my head since then). I really appreciated it - it was me that should be giving gifts and not them, but I wrote them cards and am taking them out for wine and sushi this weekend, so I figure that is a valid thank you. I also really enjoyed receiving a check for the presentation of my work - it has kind of been a stretch of several days of payment for dance, a REALLY nice departure from the norm of not receiving paychecks. Just receiving a paycheck was nice, but the checks all being for different dance-related things was the icing on the (dance cake?) The best thing about the festival for sure was how the piece turned out. I can say honestly that I feel very sure that the piece, at its moment in time, turned out just the way it should be right now, and Kaja and Andrea performed it better than I ever could have asked for. Their willingness to be a part of the process and great decisions for active performance were overwhelmingly wonderful. I certainly had a lot of moments over the weekend of 'Wow, I am so glad I came here. I would not be here doing this festival with these wonderful people had I not come.' What a great thing to feel.

Kris' visit was very nice. It was for the most part great, good fun, and the parts that were not great, good fun were great and good in their own ways. I have really appreciated both of us being able to open up to one another more as we get to know one another better, as well as developing the ability to talk about important things when they need to be talked about, as well as when to leave them on the backburner in favor of enjoying more simple things presented in the moment. It'll be a tough three months (who ever thought I would be thinking such a thing about anyone? Certainly not me - I call that personal growth :) ) but it'll play out just fine. I am definately not wanted to wish my last couple months here away - there is simply too much to be done to be thinking in such a way.

Now that the festival is over, the focus of this big busy stretch has become Live and In Synch, the DJD educational touring show for kids. We finished rehearsal this week and had our first show this morning. The show is about an hour long, and is absolutely PACKED with material. Between the show itself, set-up and tear-down, it makes for an exhausting couple of hours. And we do it twice a day! Though I am quite tired at the end of it, I am certainly not complaining - today was awesome, and I am truly looking forward to the next two weeks. The kids enjoyed the show so much, and it is great to see very clearly that you are having an impact. I love to spread a love for dance to an interested audience, and they are certainly that. Additionally, I feel so strongly for the work that DJD is doing, and am so happy to be a part of spreading that to people. All jazz dance and music-interested people have to band together to further this fringe form. I am pleased to be doing that here, and it makes me look even more forward to doing the same thing at home.

As for the next project (finally!), unfortunately it will not be Fringe Festival. We were not selected in the lottery, and are 60th on the waitlist (unlikely in my thoughts). Despite this, I still really want to do a show that presents the work of Twin Cities jazz dance artists, especially considering that I have had solid interest from several very talented and high profile people in the community. I am trying to collect my fleeting thoughts regarding how to put this show up myself (though not by myself, as the lovely Heather Parker has confirmed interest in co-producing) in time to make something happen. It is certainly exciting, but it is another ball to juggle in a currently rather full circus. I have never had a juggling problem in the past, but have had the luxury of not having to quite as severly for the last several months, so I am going to have to get in practice. I figure I will put my all into the kids show, and once that is over, I can focus on compiling my notes and thoughts from my experience up here, while also trying to nail down some details for such a show (theater space, dates, etc). Woo!

While many things float in an undefined space for me right now, there are two things of which I am positive - I am really excited to live at home for the summer, and I am so very glad that I came up to Calgary this year!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mumble Jumble

Back to a place of 'what next?' Though this place has much more definition than it used to. I now know I am for sure going home for the summer, and the question of what is beyond is the dithering. This dithering actually feels pretty good considering I know what my most immediate action will be - to return home in June. Right now, beyond that, the options have been narrowed from what they were - no school next year. No staying in Minneapolis. So that brings me back to Calgary or to Chicago - a C city of some sort it seems. No green eggs and ham please.

I like to day dream about what will become of either option - I have been looking at apartment stats in Chicago, google-earthing, checking up on the JRJP website, looking into other dance class and company options, checking out what is out there for restuarant and catering jobs, etc, and it all feels kind of exciting. At the same time, I have been plotting my return to Calgary - where I will store the minimal stuff I will leave here over the summer, thinking about how to live closer to DJD and how much that will cost, who I will live with, etc. In thinking of this, despite the fact that I have lived in Calgary the last however long, the options of coming back here and of going to Chicago seem equally easy. Erg. I suppose I can let myself settle in a place of unknowing for now, especially considering my affinity for this place.

I did a little thinking this morning about public transit. I marvelled a bit at how I have managed to rely on it almost completely (outside the occasional ride from a friend and cab), something I have truly enjoyed and would like even better about Chicago. I say this because I know transit there is much more extensive. I have been able to rely on transit here, as everything I asbolutely HAVE to get to is manageable, but I have realized there are plenty of places I suppose I would have liked to go (even if it was just exploring the Northern quadrants a bit more), but have not out of difficulty in finding a logical and time-realistic path to get there. Do not get me wrong, I have been just fine with this situation (I have had to be, considering that my budget does not allow for a car), but I know it has in some ways limited the amount I will get to see the city before I finish my tenure living here.

In that same line of thought, I am trying to figure out how to best prioritize seeing what I would like to see in surrounding Canada before I leave. Andrea and I would like to take a trip to Vancouver for sure before we head out from here, especially considering that permanent residence in this area is not part of the future plan for either of us. I hope we pick a weekend soon - I want to make sure it happens! I am also tempted to take the ten days I have between being finished at DJD and flying home to rent a car and go crazy - drive all through Banff, up to Jasper, etc. Part of me really wants to save the money I have left (and really should), but it seems a damn travesty to already be up here and not see as much as I can before I depart. I guess this is something that can be decided upon knowing better whether I will be coming back in the fall or not. If not, which means I will be making money on a regular basis and not just in the summer, I will go!

Yes, I am using this as a way to sort out my thoughts. Another thought - I hate the idea of dreaming and planning my life rather than living it. It is easy to feel like all this thought is a waste when there are things out there to do, but entertaining this kind of thought also ignores the fact that there are limitations to everything. For example - 1. It is Sunday. 2. I do not have much in the way of money. 3. I do not have much in the way of transportation. Justifications or truths? Both? Yes.