Being Asked a Big Question
Today, as I was unsuccessfully attempting to buy a bag of potato chips from the vending machine near the grad office (said vending machine decided to NOT give me the chips after it took my quarters), I ran into one of the brilliant MFA candidates in Design. Her concentration is in scene design and I have had the privilege of performing on one of her amazing creations. As she was walking, she casually asked me, "So...are you considering a career in acting?"
My immediate thought in resonse to this question was...is it that obvious? Does everybody see that my relationship with dance is changing and shifting? Am I wearing my heart on my sleeve and broadcasting to the department that I terribly miss being a "performer" as opposed to a dancer?
You see, I've been given an amazing gift. I've been given a position as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Maryland. I spend my days teaching and learning about dance, and after next year, I will have my Masters in Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography. It would kill me to know that anyone of the faculty who are so generously guiding me, might think that I am ungrateful for this gift or that I wouldn't put it to use once I leave this place. But the truth of the matter is...I am considering not being a dancer anymore.
For the past 12 years, most of my life has revolved around dance. Every career is hard, but I believe that being a dancer is one of the hardest lifestyles in the world. I have danced through pain and sickness, and I have broken myself in honor of my tradition and my art. I have danced in amazing works and for incredible choreographers. I have created my own masterpieces (maybe not by global standards...but all of my works, good and bad, are my own small masterpieces) and I have taught numberous students and helped them find their own creative voices.
But my relationship with dance has recently become complicated. You see, dance became my life, but it was not my first love. My first love...was music. I chose to remake myself into a dancer when I foolishly listened to someone who told me that I couldn't do both and that I had to choose. Now, I love dance. I have passionately advocated for and have even bled for my art form. However, I am tired.
I am tired of the pain. I am tired of the technique. I am tired of physical consequences I have reeped by choosing this life. I am at a point, where my injuries are speaking to me in a way that I can no longer ignore as I step into the performance space. In short, I feel my time being a dancer, is coming to an end.
What does this mean? When you have dedicated your life to this path, what does it mean when you start to feel the strings of your heart being pulled in a different direction? Here is the thing though...I have no intention of ever quitting dance. Strange, right? How could a dancer...who has no intension of quitting dance...not want to be considered a dancer anymore?
It is because music has recently re-entered my life. And it gives me joy.
I have no intension of being a dancer when I leave the university, but I will dance. I will expand my dance to include my voice. I will expand my dance to incorporate my storytelling. I will embrace the practice of movement, but I will relinquish the demand I place on myself to move in a way that brings more pain into my life. I won't be a dancer...but I will be a performer.
I am considering a career in acting.
I am considering a career in music.
I am letting go of my career as a dancer, to make room for MY dance. A beautiful dance of sound and soul and movement. A scary dance of vulnerability, limitations and weaknesses. A sensitive dance that exists for more than just my desire to express. A dance for them, for the audience. A dance that has no secrets, no illusions of ease, and some times a dance that has no dance at all.