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 :)

Thursday, December 22, 2016


They hold a certain magic for me. I am unsure of much about their background, but I do know they are in the greenhouse that Frosty melts in before he comes back to life. I also know that my grandma seemed to always have one in the winter, a bright red beacon in the corner of the otherwise modest kitchen or living room. They reminded me of the way she'd sometimes color her lips: they'd become a bright red beacon, highlighting special occasions. A vibrant reminder of the wisdom and wit that regularly splashed from those lips, filling the house and those in it with joy.

It always gives flutter to my heart to pause and appreciate a thriving poinsettia in the cold and dark of winter. As I've gotten older, I've recognized that it takes special care to help something thrive. This idea certainly isn't limited to plants, but they are a nice reminder. Growing, living, breathing, thriving, shifting, fleeting.

My mom carried forth her mother's tradition of having a poinsettia around the house during Christmas time, cultivating her own brand of that quiet winter magic. She, too, looks great in red, and has her own sage ways and wisdoms.

Each time I see beautiful poinsettias in a display or someone's home, or when I line my own lips with a similarly vibrant red, my subconscious whispers to me these musings, and I am filled with a sense of ebullient wonder.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Belief, Purpose, Pursuits

I recently came across a really awesome blog post by a dance friend now working in a branding agency about applying her company's branding strategy framework to her personal life. Given my recent interest in 'lifestyle design' (or whatever other similar term you may want to use), I decided to give this framework of 'Belief, Purpose, Pursuits' a quick shot;

Belief: Love and respect everything: it's all connected (rhythm) actively (movement).

Purpose: To help myself and others love and respect everything to which they are actively connected - oneself, relationships, others, the earth - through the embodiment of music.

Teaching dance
Creating dance performances
Caring for personal relationships
Investing in the moment
Connecting (to myself including by body, others, food, etc.)

I hope to give some additional time and deeper thought to this, but am happy with the start I conjured up this morning!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


I had a beautiful opening to my day. I finished listening to an episode of the podcast "On Being" that interviewed Dave Isay, the founder of another podcast titled "StoryCorp." I then moved into another I had thought about deleting, as it had been in my que for quite awhile. I am REALLY glad I ended up listening. It was another "On Being," interviewing Craig Minowa, the head of locally grown, internationally known band Cloud Cult. I had heard a bit of the music but not a ton, and after hearing this podcast, all I wanted to do was come home and listen to Cloud Cult in the rain (suggested soundtrack for reading this podcast: "The Seeker" - album released February 2016 by Cloud Cult).

It is a wonderful feeling to be continually re-inspired, especially from unexpected sources. I had started this episode several times and never quite locked in. This morning must have been the right time. I was determined to get along on a walk around the lake, and gave this episode another try. The promise of the early time of day, the energy of the folks along the way offering 'good morning' and the possibility in the damp air around Como Lake made for the perfect setting to listen.

What a beautiful and rooted person and band of artists. This interview connected me to many of my own reoccurring questions and left me with several excellent ideas to ponder and appreciate, including the following:

'BLANK' as Medicine': In this case 'Music,' but insert your own choice at will. For me, the choice would of course be 'movement + music + people,' or just one of those three at a time. I find myself questioning which would come first! The obvious answer seems like 'movement,' but for me, without music and people, it really doesn't drive me the same way. I almost think 'people' comes first, as it connects to so many of the other things I truly feel driven by in life - love, progress, etc.

'Highly-Intentioned': This term came forward as during a discussion on critiquing pop music. Minnow said he most appreciates 'highly-intentioned' things, particularly where music is concerned. This really got me thinking about how my own art isn't, is or could and can be 'highly-intentioned.' What is it about the combination of people, movement and music that isn't/ is/ could/ can be highly-intentioned? Part of me thinks it's easy to critique improvisation as no-so-highly-intentioned, as it has not been carefully planned out in advance. I know this to be untrue. There are many ways to be highly-intentioned. I think the high-intention of improvisation tends first and foremost to intentioning the moment. Bringing optimal focus and energy to what is happening in the now. Perhaps this is part of what makes it so hard to 'train' in. I am so curious about and motivated by the idea of training for optimal improvisation. I suppose this is like anything else in which the tools must be gathered to make the most of the moment when their use is needed to bring forth the best result. Tapping most clearly into the moment, just like anything else, becomes better with tools and training. For some, this is meditation. For me, it's improvising movement. I will continue to explore fitting myself and others with the tools needed to best approach this gift. Bringing people together to experience the moment through movement and music heightening their senses is indeed a highly-intentioned gift, if the mind is made available to see it as such.

Being intent on 'timelessness' and believing that every moment is forever: This interview discussed how seeing time as a made up idea and that all moments are forever as freeing perceptions. Many fields of study suggest that we make up our own realities, so it really is up to us how we choose to see and believe things. Every moment is worth our full investment. I sometimes think a potential counterargument to practicing this is 'If you are always in the moment, how do you plan for the future?' I am more and more believing the idea to answer to that question is 'Not every moment is spent planning for the future.' Even in the moments you are planning for the future, if you are fully investing yourself in that activity, you are living in the moment. On a related note, Minowa said something about being able to journey as far as you'd like but discovering that you always end up back here, in the now. This idea could be seen as disappointing or truly inspiring: we choose our own mainframes on how we interpret anything. In this case, I choose to interpret this as utterly inspiring. I

This relates back to my several years in the making (and I believe continually re-inventing itself within it's relevance) idea that everywhere you go and everything you do are microcosms of everything else. Again, this could be seen as disappointing, or highly comforting and enlightening. This idea has been re-inventing itself for me for many years, often phrased within my New Years Resolutions:

  • 2007/ 2008/ 2009 - "The choices you make are defining, not limiting" and "Choices are just pockets out of a world where similar things are happening everywhere"
  • 2008 - "Everything is a fluid stream of happenings that need not be separated or judged ahead of time" (this very much harks to this years, which addresses the idea that everything is a spectrum, directed by our understandings of simple and complex)
  • 2010 - (the above morphed into) "See life as a fluid stream of happenings yo are both informed by and inform"
  • 2012 - "Trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be" (we can journey as far as we desire, but find that we always end up back here in the now, again an idea that can provide so much wonder and inspiration when looked at that way)
  • 2013 - (so many of this year's resolutions speak to this idea) "Pay attention to process" / "Understand you are exactly where you are meant to be" / "Practice your ability to be present" / "Every moment spent not content is a moment wasted - be content" (perhaps content wasn't quite the right word - we are need a little pilot light fire under our asses at all times to keep seeking, I believe)

This idea kept showing up over time, but less obviously. I believe this is because, as I go back and assess each year before writing new ones, I do make progress on these resolutions. That said, it was inspiring to be reminded of this on a morning when so many inputs were reminding me to experience gratitude for all the elements that compose my life (which are all increasingly intentional).

There is a necessity to grow spiritually as fast as we are growing technologically: That kind of says it all for itself. Without spiritual grounding, what good can we do with all of our technological advancements? This is why I feel my work in dance contributes to the world - dance enables people to connect with themselves and others while experiencing the moment through heightened senses. What a beautiful idea to consider that our innovations are only as good as our abilities to ground ourselves. Without a grounded sense of self and relationship (to others, to the earth, etc), how would we know how to best use our innovations, and to what end? Further justification for placing an amount of priority on designing all aspects of my life. Yes, I do need the process of what I call 'justification,' but perhaps I could find a more honest and transparent word. What about 'evidence'? If it really all is just one great big experiment in which we are all looking for the right formula for our own selves to experience most fully, 'evidence' would be it.

Indeed, further evidence in support of placing energy and an amount of priority on carefully designing all aspects of ones life.

As Minowa stated toward the end of the interview, he read somewhere that every human body has enough energy to power 30 hydrogen bombs (which I certainly won't fact check because I just want to believe it because of what comes next), following that statement with the question "What are you doing to do with that power?" My hear just arrests even thinking about this statement and his resulting question. Further EVIDENCE that simple acts to better ones day to day approaches are in turn bettering the whole world through positive energy - it is indeed all connected.

Another deeply impactful idea I was left with after listening to this podcast was how Craig Minowa lets his other interests become fuel for his art. In his case, one interest is in quantum physics, and how understanding these principles can translate into better understanding our connections to ourselves, one another and the universe. My 'other interests,' off the top of my head, are in organizing, life design, conversation. My favorite times are when I organize people into scenarios that allow for conversation or exchange. It speaks back to my interest in improvisation and connecting to the moment through interaction with ourselves, others, movement and music. I know this, from my grad studies, to connect back to cognitive psychology, sociology and philosophy. It feels exciting to name these fields and my hopes to remember them as sources of inspiration as I keep creating with my most important building blocks - people, movement and music.

This morning, I exercised my ability to feel my heart expand, thanks to a generous outpouring of wisdom from an excellent artist.

I move forward today with gratitude for the moist grey outside. I think it's Mother Nature's way of letting us appreciate yesterdays sunlight rapture, gently nudging us back to our work and contributions. And now, forward toward more concrete versions of my own.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Freak Flags, Funk and Purpose

The deaths of David Bowie and Prince are similarly devastating to me in two ways; they both amassed truly incredible artistic outputs, and unapologetically flew their beautiful and unique freak flags. Perhaps this total embrace of the self had much to do with their abilities to create so much evocative and impactful art that dressed in drag as entertainment.

Or was it entertainment dressing in drag as art? Or does it even matter? These two irresistible auras took these artifices and threw them to the wind, using creative wellspring cultivated from the most powerful source: being oneself. They both allowed their electric lives within their own skins to surge vulnerably out past themselves to pass along the spark, building community among those who needed it most. This is the work. THIS. Work I'd call 'serious fun.' At a time when understanding the beautiful simultaneity of difference and similarity is so important, what better a role for art than to help people find themselves while simultaneously finding compatibilities with others?

Jazz music and movement and their offshoots (like the beautifully-accessible nasty of Prince-brand funk) are exactly this; the value of self expression soloing within the support of a community holding down the percussion. Improvising your own solo take on the melodies that run through our lives, moving toward harmony with others, as the beat marches ever forward.

But funk? That's just plain and simple fun, right? Plain and simple? Yes. JUST? NO. Creating your own improvised take on a shared jam, whether through sound or motion, is vital and important work. It produces the vulnerable, authentic and truthful joy that is so often in short supply in the world, yet a key ingredient to a balanced life. Grooving is so much more than 'a fun Friday night.' It is self-actualization, shared freely with others, while celebrating the fullness of the moment. Here is an example of Prince doing the WORK:

I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone right now who doesn't deem his unique brand of Serious Fun as incredible ARTISTRY. He was, after all, The Artist. To the foot-tappers, booty-shakers and everybody else taking their fun seriously, I'm right there with you, in everything I do as an artist. My passionate professional commitment to groove isn't 'just fun.' It's Serious Fun. It's self-actualization. It's celebration of the beautiful simultaneity of difference and similarity. It's experiencing the fullness of the moment. It is purpose.

So, go on with your WORK. It's what he would have wanted, because he knew it's what we need.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


I guess it's not surprising, when I consider it, that many of these posts actually begin as communication with a friend or colleague. I think my best thoughts come out when they are being created for someone specific that I appreciate. The lack of surprise comes from my artistic and personal interest in being social. In letting social context and information inspire my life and my art. I am most certainly an extrovert; I do gain the great majority of my energy from being with others who I appreciate. I DO love my alone time (particularly since I got pretty good at and learned to crave it in grad school), but I definitely prefer people over no people when it comes to recharging my batteries.

This line of thought came from composing a reply to a student who sent an awesome email full of information on sampling after we had a brief discussion after class one day regarding this practice. She sent links to songs and ideas that definitely expanded my grasp on the concept of sampling, and lead me to think a little deeper on it again. It's awesome to realize that one artistic exploration of a concept does not dig it up and leave you with EVERYTHING; there is always more to go back to, and I find this exciting.

I LOVE this Curtis Mayfield tune that my student pointed out, and of course never REALLY knew who did it or what the social context was; in a certain way, I feel certain types of EDM, for some of today's 18-45 set (yes, an intentionally wide range!) serve the same purpose as "Move On Up" and other tunes did for soul lovers in the 70s. I also think it's interesting to take a look at the socio-cultural background of those in question. Soul really was an uplifter for many folks who were of lower socio-economic status and often African American. As soul developed a history and travelled, more folks found value in it.

I am so interested by this conversation; I am horrified by appropriation, yet equally horrified by not being able to enjoy the all cultural products of our beautiful world. To me, the answer has become being informed. That is why I loved getting this email from my student; I think when we get interested in ANYTHING (be it 'from our own identity demographic' or not), we owe it to that thing to dig. Hip-hop, soul, yodeling for god sakes - anything! It makes life so much richer to dig and to be able to give appreciation to originators before running with the material in another potentially as interesting direction :)

In our brief conversation, I had mentioned a documentary I was tipped off to by a visit to my grad school campus by DJ Spooky: I believe it was "Copyright Criminals". That said, I really feel like there was another one too . . . I am sure it is written in an old journal somewhere that is packed for my move this Friday :) Perhaps it was "Sample This"? I just love this conversation: what belongs to who? Should we even talk about it in those terms? When something becomes a part of popular or mass culture on any scale, it becomes really hard to decide these things. I think rather than trying to decide, we should focus on knowing and respecting origins.

I created a piece this past summer I ended up titling Coattails. i.e., riding on those of others. 'The Coattail Effect' is an actual political term for a candidate gaining traction in an election due to side by side exposure with another candidate - Hillary and Bernie, anyone?! I wanted to explore this double-sided coin of sampling. I worked with a live band to link together four different commonly-sampled hooks and breaks, those from "Apache" by the Incredible Bongo Band, "Think" by Lyn Collins and "Amen, Brother" by the Winstons (origin of the Amen break), and the "Funky Drummer" James Brown backbeat pattern as a way to hook them all together. We had jean jackets I attached tails to that I sewed, and I had to reinforce them enough that they'd bear body weight, as we literally rode on each others! It was performed in August, so I suppose I am about due to go back and look at it. Again, there is something really enticing about coming back to something. I have so many pieces I made and then walked away from, and am feeling a real itch to go back and examine them with fresh eyes (ones that have been through grad school and honed their aesthetic slant :)). I definitely think some redux is on it's way . . .

Back to sampling. This line of thinking is just a huge one for me. On a note related by its steeping in socially-generated information, I have been thinking a lot lately about how the skills I want to keep developing for my own choreographic and performance life often do not correspond to taking morning ballet, modern and sometimes even jazz dance classes. I am so interested in social improvisational dance, from a personal and professional standpoint. Professionally, I am interested in how this information can be translated to presentational dance as well as be presented alongside it. That said, it's not often enough that I get out to dance at a funk or house night or to go salsa or swing dancing. I'm always trying to work on this, but my propensity for mornings, partner that will dance but for whom dancing is not the choice activity and life and dance friends who also do not 'go dancing' much, it's tough.

Putting this into words helps me realize that settling on those limiting factors is NOT something I am going to do. The title of this blog sums up my approach: making plans and putting them into motion. It is often planning that really helps me get actionable, so I'm getting planny on this thing. Looks like Wabasha Street Cave's Swing Night is dance lesson at 6pm, live music 7-10. YES! That timing is my jam :) I have been trying to attend a house gathering on Sunday nights at the apartment community studio of a hip-hop practitioner in the cities, but it's often later than works well for me, and I have been down in Winona for the last several Sundays.

Planning. Planning a system . . . Yesterday, I added to my calendar all the Zumba classes I could feasibly attend in a week as a part of a new scholarship project. I think seeing a reminder stare at me on my calendar will help me prioritize the time. I think I am also going to add regular house, swing, and salsa dance nights so they are there staring me in the face when I am met with considering how to work these practices into my life. Systems, planning . . . adding an event on my calendar for each weekday that repeats that says 'Dance Opportunities, ' in which I can list all of that day's regular opportunities in the notes.

Here I go. I LOVE when my thinking leads to actionable things. I just hope that the pathway ends up as thinking . . . planning . . . system . . . use of system :)

Use of system. A sampling of how I progress.