Day 308: Eleven.Nine.13

My student’s dance performance at Bullis went so fast. All of the nine weeks of teaching and planning and yelling for a room full of high school students to be quiet… all of it was over in what seemed like just a matter of minutes. They did a really great job.

It’s crazy how quickly this temporary teaching gig became just a part of my routine.

And now, it’s over.

I don’t know how it happened, but I was completely blindsided by the ending.

What happens now?

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 301: Eleven.Two.13

The ‘cinematic short’ dance concept video I was recently a part of, created by Crishon Jerome and with direction and videography by Nadia Itani, is now finished. What a superbly talented group of people – glad to have been able to be a part.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 297: Ten.TwentyNine.13

My friends are fiercely talented. My women-folk; these bad-ass, I don’t take no bs from no one, I know my own worth and you better respect that, kind of friends. It’s so freaking awesome to witness. And be inspired by.

The incredible writer, poet, educator, performer Mahogany Browne, who fell into my life at this moment I knew not how much I needed her, took the stage at Busboys and Poets Hyattsville last night. She was the feature in a fabulous event series called Body of Work.

I have seen her perform pieces on many occasions, in all types of settings. This night was different, though. It was all her, and revealed an altogether different kind of performance quality. I was mesmerized, as was the rest of the audience.

She speaks truth and wisdom and love. But more than that, she IS those things. What I realized last night was how much of herself she is on that stage. During poems, in between poems, answering questions, interacting with the crowd – all of it. And that, that is the most powerful tool I think any of us artists can aspire to use. Authenticity.

She had a few surprise guests – an incredible singer and cellist from Philadelphia (middle photo) who had this voice that made you FEEL the moment in a way that is kind of too visceral of a thing to put into words. And me – I freestyled to a poem that I was hearing for the first time as I was dancing it. It’s humbling to be asked by this beauty of a woman to share in one of her pieces. Terrifying, really. But I do it. Whenever she asks. Because I trust in her so completely and have to believe that I, too, may find some truth in what I share when I am in her presence.

Mahogany Browne @ Busboys photo 2 photo 3

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 287: Ten.Nineteen.13

It’s not often I go to dance shows these days.

Tonight I made an exception.

This year’s Culture Shock Showcase took place in the DMV. Meant all of the companies from around the country (and Canada) met here to perform on the same stage for one night.

Many of my friends are a part of the Culture Shock family – having formerly directed and danced with the various groups. It was great to see them all in one place after such a long time (well, it simultaneously feels like forever ago and yesterday) and it was great to see the new dancers up on stage. It was a mostly very enjoyable and entertaining evening. (Too long, but I was prepared for that.)

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 280: Ten.Twelve.13

My dancer-friend created a concept video. I got to be a part of it.

He’s uber-talented. Both as a performer, and now, coming into his own right as a choreographer/director it seems.

I totally, totally wanted in.

We rode around on Metro for hours. I mean, HOURS. Getting shots, jumping off trains, waiting for another.

Concept Video Shoot

We danced in an alley at almost 3 in the morning. It was raining. Cold. We hadn’t eaten. We were beyond tired.

Concept Video Shoot

Most of the dancers were a significant number of years younger than me. (One, the main character, less than half my age.) I felt insecure, out of place, uncomfortable. Like he put me in out of pity and then couldn’t tell me he no longer wanted me in it. Certainly isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way. It’s most of the time, in fact. I have most of the time felt insecure about my talent and accomplishments when it comes to doing projects like this. (How terrible is it that I walk around feeling like THAT all of the time?)

It’s safe to say I won’t be in much of the video.

I felt bad about it for most of the night.

But you know what? When I get right down to it, I’m happy to have been a part. I met some great new, totally talented people, had an experience most don’t get to have ever, and faced my inner demons head-on.

I also discovered a new layer of truth for myself: I perhaps can’t do the things I did when I was 21. But dammit if I can’t be awesome at being 31. Now, to focus on those areas of my life, instead of trying to recreate what I once was…

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 274: Ten.Six.13

I potentially successfully talked a choreographer-friend out of using me in his upcoming video choreography.

Here’s how the scenario went down:

  1. Friend tells me he’s in town, teaching class, scouting for people to be in his concept video
  2. I tell friend I will be there
  3. Post on facebook that I am super excited to take class, while simultaneously putting myself down and saying I will be dancing in the back and please don’t laugh too much at the ‘old lady’
  4. Take class, mostly enjoy myself, a little bit get frustrated with myself that my memory skills are not up to par with where they used to be
  5. Ask friend to let me attend his rehearsals, promise to stand in the back and let him know I’m not in any way expecting to take part in the actual video
  6. Attend rehearsal, continue to be overwhelmed by the desire to be IN the video
  7. Dance smaller than I know I’m capable of, simply because it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, this world of self-doubt
  8. Get moved into a place in the piece (maybe I will be in it after all?!)
  9. Find out at the end of rehearsal that I may – or may not – be in it still…
  10. Let friend know I will HAVE the choreography by the time of the shoot, if that’s what he’s worried about, but understand if he doesn’t put me in for stylistic reasons
  11. Leave, feeling mostly defeated – by myself

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 270: Ten.Two.13

Dancing happened tonight. Lots of it. Sweating happened, too. Lots of it.

My stamina was higher than I expected. (Yay for teaching dance classes to teenagers four times a week again!)

My brain power was lower than I hoped. (Boo for not having opportunities to retain choreography in the way I used to.)

But dancing indeed happened. And it felt great. For a few moments I remembered what it was like to do this on a for real basis. Be surrounded by people working and pushing and growing. It made me work and push and grow.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 266: Nine.TwentyEight.13

I am to perform a solo in front of the waterfall at the FDR Memorial today. Originally set to ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime?’ but performed today, with no music. The theme is that of struggle – what we face as artists. What we give up, sacrifice, are willing to do to be fulfilled by the ability to move, dance, create.

FDR Memorial

I will dance anywhere, anytime, to any music.

But it has suddenly occurred to me that I am afraid to perform this piece.

It’s almost certain we will be stopped.

I’m afraid to upset people, disrupt the serenity of this place.

Our intentions are pure – we wish to share a bit of joy and beauty and art with passersby. We mean no ill will. It’s part of a larger collection of movement and dance throughout the city, called #danceaboutdc. Such a great idea – you purchase a ticket and then are emailed instructions on where to go to ‘find’ the dancing. We all love a secret location. This is fun. Happy-making.

And yet, I feel afraid.

What does this make me, then? If I am not willing to risk a little bit of personal discomfort for my art form?

We were indeed stopped. The compromise was us moving to a public piece of land outside of the memorial. Not the same effect, but safe and upstanding and non-fear-inducing.

I won’t ever be the kind of person who fights. It’s just not in my nature. But I do hope the brave pieces of me continue to develop. Today, maybe, I partially succeeded in this.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 247: Nine.Nine.13

Day 1 of return-to-dance-teacher-life:

I’m not as prepared as I would like to be. Seems my affinity towards procrastination is a hard habit to shed.

I’m sweating. Embarrassingly, profusely sweating. The kind students make fun of behind teacher’s backs while walking in the hallways to classes. ‘Did you SEE Ms. Emily’s sweat circles??’

I’m wearing sweats to work. And that’s ACCEPTABLE.

I’m listening to music. And moving. And the lovely students are listening to the music. And MOVING.

I have a lot to offer this group of young, aspiring dancers. I’m delighted to be working with them.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 243: Nine.Five.13

Sweat dripping. Quickened breath.

Ripped skin. Blisters forming. Muscles aching.

And I am loving every minute of it.

My body once again MOVING. LEARNING. DANCING.

It’s been so long and we have such a short amount of time. We have a certain level of trust that only comes in this line of work – something unspoken that comes from knowing how and where and why one moves.

She just back from baby number three, me back from what is now going on a four year leave from the dancing world.

My muscle memory took over and I was once again dancing like the adolescent bun-head I used to be.

And that was just the problem.

The movement felt forced, anxious, small. I knew this, but I knew not how to fix it. I kept apologizing. Promising her – and me – that I would have it perfected by tomorrow.

Finally, at the end of day two of rehearsal (with one more to go before I perform the piece for the first time) my longtime colleague, friend, fellow dancer gently urged me to dance like the thirty one year old that I am.

It just, simply, had not occurred to me.

To dance with the maturity and wisdom and acceptance of my own body that can only come with time and age.

To take up space – not apologize for it.

To be sexy – not pretend to know how to be.

To own the movement – not try to dance as someone else would.

To move and enjoy and cherish.

If this is what it means to start acting my age, well, I’m all in.

 

Here’s to another day of creativity…