I am a sucker for new beginnings. Growing up, every September offered a desperately-welcomed chance to reinvent myself in the eyes of my peers. The start of summer dance intensives marked a time to renew my commitment to the art of ballet and the pursuit of it’s perfection. Seasonal changes continue to offer the chance to tap into different aspects of my personality: from the sun soaked, wannabe surfer girl to the cider sipping homebody curled under a blanket with a good book. For much of my adult life, I have thrived on the collegiate academic semester schedule. As an undergraduate student, in my graduate program, and as an adjunct, I have reveled in the new classes, new students, and new challenges that arise every 16 weeks or so.
So perhaps it goes without saying that the changing of the calendar every January 1 is a big deal for me. I’m not so much a resolution type, but I relish the opportunity to reflect on the year that has past and look forward to the coming trip around the sun.
This New Year’s Day in particular calls for some major reflection, as 2016 saw incredible changes for me personally and professionally. I got married to my wonderful partner, moved from my beloved East Coast to the Southwest, and left my job in dance education advocacy to pursue new opportunities with my husband here in Arizona. It was a hectic, emotional, and thrilling year, and I found myself particularly introspective as the last few hours of it ticked away.
As I mentioned, I’m not particularly into resolutions, as they’ve always felt like a set up for failure. Resolutions feel too specific, too focused on the product. Just as I’ve learned that it’s pointless to try to reinvent yourself every September to try to impress a bunch of goobers (I mean, my classmates), I’ve also discovered that process-focused work yields better results for me than focusing on some elusive end goal. However, in my (perhaps champagne-induced) NYE reflections, I realized there were some things I’m really excited to work on in the coming months. I’m sharing some of them here, now, both in the pursuit of accountability and in the hopes that they might kick-start some positive work in your life as well. Here we go:
1.) Commit to blogging. As I mentioned in a previous post, I tend to get all up in my head when it comes to writing new material for this site. My goal is to write regularly, without worrying so much if a post will be “successful.” Practice is the only pathway to success, and establishing a regular blogging habit will help me parse out the many ideas about dance, education, and community that swirl around my brain on the regular.
2.) Commit to choreography. 2016 was a pretty good year for me, choreographically. Through partnerships with NACHMO-National Choreography Month, Glade Dance Collective, and actress/mover/all-around badass Lauren Fanslau, I was able to create new work that was shown at the INTERSECTIONS Festival and at Dance Place (both in Washington, D.C.). However, I also left wonderfully supportive dance communities, and I haven’t yet found my movement “tribe” here in Phoenix. Left to my own devises (and having to plan a wedding and figure out life and work in a new state), I pretty much gave up on choreography for the last 8 month or so. The hiatus was probably good for me, but I am ready to get back to work. I am going to take the month of January (which happens to be National Choreography Month) to start work on a new solo – stay tuned for updates!
3.) Get back on stage. My last performances were pretty disastrous, to be honest. I got so caught up in the administrative side of creating and producing dance concerts that I let the craft of creating and performing solo work go to the wayside. I felt under-prepared to take the stage, and the results showed in the work. While I think this is something most artists experience in today’s economy, it really sucked the joy out of performing for me. I am feeling ready, however, to invest the time needed to take a dance from idea to audience. I know that I will need to start slowly this time around, to focus on the work first. Only when the work is ready will I begin to focus on getting it to an audience. This is not my usual M.O., as I’ve always needed the deadline of a performance to inspire the process. I’m excited to see how the dance will shape up, and to hopefully bring it to the stage by year’s end.
4.) Get back in class. I’ve found some really lovely ballet classes here in Phoenix, and I’ve been inspired to get back to work on my technique. (Shout out to Ballet Theatre of Phoenix!) I know I’ll never be a big shot dancer – age, body type, and injury are just not on my side these days. However, it feels good to commit myself to the joy of dancing again, without the pressure of my own expectations.
5.) Live according to my values. It’s easy to let the busy world prevent us from living in the way we know is right. This year, I’m going to consciously work to get back to value-centered living. I am committed to focusing on healthy living, environmental care, and support of the local community. My husband and I are looking forward to a year of cooking instead of eating out, patronizing local businesses, repairing instead of replacing, finding a church home and renewing our spiritual practices, starting a patio garden, and making or thrifting instead of buying new where possible.
Wherever you find yourself this New Year’s Day, I hope that you are feeling ready for the joys and challenges to come! May 2017 bring us closer to peace, understanding, and empathy!