28 July 2005

redesigning my backspin

hey, that's me on the right in the yellow shirt. ron brown's class, american dance festival, 1998.

there was a period in my life when I lived in baggy sweats, cut-up leotards and a pair of deliciously decayed shelltoe adidas. my world was about movement, about teaching, about kids (not my own). my nights were filled with classes and rehearsals. I devoted large chunks of time to developing original curriculum, seeking out fresh music and researching the importance of arts in education. I remember feeling like I would exist this way forever and could imagine no other way of living. and now here I am, in a completely different place.

and this is a good place to be, it's a great place. but there are times when it feels slightly foreign to me and I experience a sort of achiness thinking about my old self. I'm fairly certain she still exists, it's just a little more of a challenge to find her these days. a while back, I wrote about my quest to pick up where I left off. it has been one steep hill, people. I feel as if the world that I worked so hard to create is passing me by. this past weekend, I happened to pick up a weekly arts/happenings guide only to discover that a dance company that I have been waiting for EIGHT YEARS to see here in atlanta had come and gone. I am sick to my stomach over this gross oversight on my part. folks, I AM SLIPPING. normally, I am aware of any and all upcoming performances way in advance. ronald k. brown/evidence is a phenomenal company out of brooklyn that I first happened upon in 1997 at the american dance festival. on a whim, I snuck into his class the first week of the festival. ninety minutes and a couple of buckets of sweat later, I was hooked and continued to slip into his class each afternoon (and I have mad love for mr. brown for pretending not to notice my sad little charade). then I saw the company perform and I'm here to tell you: that is some moving and dancing that will make you want to lay down and cry like a happy little baby. ever since that summer, I have been whining and complaining about the dance scene here in atlanta, wondering what it would take to bring a great company like this to the ATL. where are all the fresh, new modern companies? (yeah, I know exactly where they are and it's not here). I'm so sick of the atlanta stinking ballet. there is such a world of goodness and art and movement out there. I am tired of having to pick up the village voice at the bookstore just to keep up on the latest companies/performances. but I digress. my point is that I missed out on seeing ron brown, something that would've refueled me for days, for months, FOR YEARS in the juiciest, lovliest ways. thing is, I was wrapped up in ava's big birthday party. I don't regret this (not by any means), this time spent organizing and throwing her the big fifth birthday bash (I admit, I went overboard again and will be writing about it soon). I'm just unsure of how my two worlds will merge, if they will merge at all.

this fall, I will begin to teach for moving in the spirit again. neither my mind or body is even close to being ready, though I think just by writing this, I am taking some sort of step in the right direction.


  1. Andrea, I know just what you mean. It's as if two separate people exist inside of me, and one of them has had to be pressed down and hidden for the time being. Not that I want it that way, nor do you, it just seems impossible for the two people to exist together. I completely relate and appreciate your heartfelt post.

  2. such a great shot! i can so relate andrea. i too find it hard to find that person before noah. i used to be so footloose and fancy free. earl and i were in a band (that's how we fell in love) and our life was music music music. spending many an evening writing songs and playing out. i loved that life and performing live was always so exhilarating. earl still plays guitar (almost every evening here at home) but my singing has almost all but gone. i grew up (like you i think) like your love for dance; mine for singing (oh this is such a long story - you are going to have to email me as i don't want to bore all your readers). anyway - i totally know how you feel. i have missed some really good shows here too and for some reason hardly listen to music anymore let alone play it. (i think that's why i have delvged (is that a word?) into design so much as it's more accessible to my lifestyle). i too used to be so on top of the whole scene. so i am so happy for you that you're getting back into it! you must be so excited! i look forward to hearing about it all. with that passion you must be an excellent teacher!

  3. your post is inspiring, i wish i could move like that.

  4. I get what mean by slipping, the world you built is not all there. I felt like that after graduating college with the question “Now what?” I can relate to the lack of originality, freshness, edginess, and well, in the area I'm in, people in general (and I dislike saying this) must be so miserable. I love edginess, newness, but I realize there is a time and place for it and sometimes you have to go back to the beginning, or as they say in Center Stage, you have to go back to the barre. but why can't that barre routine be spiced up somehow? ya know?
    I mention that people here must be miserable b/c why as a young woman who is trying to find herself and a job, must people be so mean about me not having a job, or critical about areas I find fascinating? I feel like saying "I'm sorry you feel like that but you had your chance 20 years ago, and please don't make me suffer b/c you didn't achieve your dream." I wonder that about my old dance teacher. Nothing was fresh, different, etc I think doing a pointe routine in anything but a tutu of some length was an out of the box idea for her. I wasn't a favorite in class. I was the sensitive child who didn't have faith in herself. All I ever wanted, besides her not losing her temper, yelling, and being snippy (and people wonder why I can be snippy and whiny!) are pointe shoes. Only the favorites (and cheerleaders and pon poms who comprised 98% of the favorites) got pointe shoes and it was very obvious. Sophomore in high school, and 5 years of constant let down b/c of no shoes (I was in dance longer than that doing tap, ballet, jazz, and tumbling). As a college student I got back to it, but this time hip hop, and it was scary! I learned how to move my body differently. I took the class through my college fitness and rec center, so it was informal. But this time, the second term of the class when I was cast aside (b/c I wasn’t part of the instructor’s company (a group of his friends in the class that liked to dance and go to clubs) that he mostly used in end of term class performances (to get more people in his class) mostly b/c he was too busy and preoccupied with his own life to create something new that everybody could be involved in) I did something. I was about in tears, and said “I’m leaving.” And he was like “no I’m going to work you in…” That was the night before the “performance.” The 8 weeks leading up to it, 75% of my time was spent watching other people, his company members dance during class time. I ended up walking out that night before the performance. Did I let people down, were they counting on me? I didn’t even have 1 count in the final choreography. I thought I’m 22 this is suppose to be fun, and help my self esteem and confidence-it didn’t. It’s not about the instructor, it’s not like this a class at Alvin Alley or the ABA, or an instructor like Martha Graham. I felt like I through money out the window. I don’t know if I did the right thing, but at least I used my voice this time. For as old as I am I still want a pair of pointe shoes if even to walk around in them around my house and never go up to full pointe.
    Now in the present, as I went to an audition last night to be a fitness instructor at a new gym, and I haven’t taught in about a year, the newness, edginess concept hit me like a brick wall again. My music was older than the other instructors, my choreography was simpler not as flashy, and their cueing-it was all amazing. I didn’t do all that shabby for my first real audition. Things are simply different in the burbs and the city than they are in small town USA. It can be very very frustrating b/c, I think, at times and in ways, it can hold people back especially if they don’t have a sympathetic or empathetic person who can relate to, help, and encourage them in their quest to do a grande jeté out of the box. Andrea, you know ur going to kick butt, and inspire, and look at the bright side, there are so many more ways now to get info and experience with edginess, etc than there was 10 years ago. I hear Juliane Arney is suppose to be pretty trendy with youth, fitness and dance, but I’m sure you kick her booty ;) You can do anything, remember that! BTW sorry this is sooo long!

  5. this is another, "I know what you mean" post....

    Architecture studio = wanting to go to studio, not being able to stay away. Having so many ideas inside your head you cannot afford the trace paper it takes to record them all. You would rather buy basswood to make models then eat, living on roman noodles was high class. You could find me in studio at any point in time between Monday and Friday 9 am - 4 am. New music, new art, new architecture, new liturature....this was the quest, and it was all expressed in some way or the other. Things were exciting and anything was possible. Conversations revolved around ethics, politics, and authenticity. It doesn't sound like much of a life....but it was totally free...We would leave studio at 12:00 am hit the bars for two hours and return to get drawings done for the next morning.

  6. One thing that has kept me content and at peace with my life NOW compared to THEN, is to remain in tune with the "chapter of my life" for the current moment. Yes, i have many times grieved for the "me" of the past...but although there were hours upon hours of free wonderful sweet time to fill, my life THEN was fairly superficial & empty compared to NOW.
    Ok......... so sitting here typing & thinking, i have realized that you CAN'T COMPARE these two. They are completely different. I am different. That is cool with me, cuz there were things about the THEN-me that i didn't much care for! What i can do is bring the creative free-er THEN-me to join us NOW and incorporate this gal into my life NOW by showing my children how FUN she is and how crafty she can be. Also this gal has become much wiser and i like to think that she is way cooler NOW anyway. Right, For now my kids think that too, and THAT folks-- is what truely is important.
    Thanks Andrea, for giving me a moment to re-affirm my happiness and joy that comes from being a mom and child of GOd. I am happy.
    love ya

  7. We welcome you back with open arms, my dancing diva sister.

  8. lulu-- I take much comfort in the fact that we can commiserate (and talk in person and in length!) about this very issue. thanks for sharing.

    jan-- so interesting to hear about your life pre-noah (definitely sounds like we could talk about it some more!)... and again, I am comforted by the fact that I am not the only mother to experience this.

    anonymous-- so wonderful to see another dancer up in here... thanks for your words! I can relate to so much you have experienced. there are many people in various dance communities that shouldn't be teaching/choreographing, but what you can do? sounds like you have learned from some rough experiences (which is the smartest thing you can do). I guess I should say that there are some strong modern companies here in atlanta. I just wish the dance community (as a whole) would show more support and that there would be more funding for these excellent companies. I think my frustration also comes from a place of knowing what's out there and knowing it's near impossible for me to gain access to it. I'm disappointed in the conservative choices our city makes (in terms of who gets brought to perform here and conduct guest residencies)... again, I'm off on a tangent. anyway, keep doing what you're doing and I'd like to thank you for your encouragement...

    reverb-- totally relating. and it sounds like a fantastic life.

    heather-- wise words, thanks for sharing.

    amy-- thank you. you know that means the world! and yay! so glad you're back from vacation!

  9. I suppose I'm coming in at the end of a very deep moment for many of you who posted comments at this time. I guess "giving up" some of your identity is pretty much what women do in their lifetime. Not everyone has to do it - but many do - and many do it willingly, but with that sense of "loss of self." It's hard. There is a "you" somewhere out there that used to do things that gave GREAT pleasure - dancing, painting, singing, creating - whatever it was - is now "hidden" until there is more time. But you know, I believe every woman who chooses to raise children at home and not go in the work place still uses that "other self" in their day-to-day living. There are many small ways that the creative self comes out. Usually we don't recognize that the "other self" is actively engaged in working with others at their children's school, church, community organization, birthday parties, celebrations of ANY kind. I did it for many years while Ward & Amy were growing up. I loved being home with them, but I actively engaged at my church to use my teensy talent in some small way. It was very satisfying. Some of you have degrees in college and you're thinking, "What was all THAT for? Here I am in the midst of diapers, mess, temper tantrums, and for THIS I got a degree?" You're using it whether you realize it or not. I've always been a believer that you never waste any experience in life. EVERYTHING you learn in whatever circumstance is used at some point in your life. I am still using information and experiences that I accumulated and felt many years ago TODAY. It's great. AND the most important thing - you are shaping the men and women of TOMORROW with your wonderful knowledge and talent. THAT's so important. I know you don't feel that right now, but you'll look back one day and see those kids you gave up careers and opportunities for become wonderful human beings in the world. That's very gratifying. See my smile:)

    It is never too late to pick up and find that "other self" to encourage her out of her shell to once again fly like an angel, or sing like the songbirds, or creat a masterpiece like Leonardo or Mozart! That's my secret smile that says, "just you wait - I'll be back and in rare form." Ladies, you're all winners in my book!

    Didn't meant to "pontificate." But I loved reading everyone's posts and realized that each woman was a wonderful and talented person feeling deep emotions about their worth in life.

  10. Andrea, u didn't get off on a tangent! It's bothersome to say the least, so much is political (and about money) and not about the essence, heart, soul, spirit, energy, etc of things and passing such wonderful inspiring 'things' on to others-the 'things' I think are a bit more important ;) and are the cornerstone of leading a fulfilling life. But what do I know? I'm finding even when I think I'm at my lowest, and totally insecure, or feeling like the dumbest one in the room, there are always people a) on my level and feel my pain, and we can connect and b) those who are, forgive me, but so insecure, fearful, etc they use force, intimidation, etc en lieu or b/c they can't/aren't comfortable with themselves, and that goes back to misery enjoys company. Point is, I still feel like I’m taking the high road (and could be doing worse). I would think Atlanta wouldn’t be so conservative simply b/c it’s a city full of diverse thought and practice. Does it have something to do with its geographical position and history? Andrea, where there’s a will there’s a way, but usually there’s some sacrifice. You’ll find a way to get that way out of the box, off the hook, omg, better than chocolate inspiration, rush, and choreography. You may need a babysitter, but you’ll do it. I’m an idealist and believe one person can make a difference, I don’t know if I’m that person in my area(s) of interest, but you may be for yours, and remember there has to be more Andreas in Atlanta, b/c you’re never alone.

  11. Don't worry you'll be back in the dance groove very soon, probably pining for the days when all your mental energy was focused on your lovely children. Your mind has been focused on Mommy things because that's where you have wanted it to be. It obviously muy muy important to you.

  12. best of luck to you in getting back into dance. thanks for sharing so much in your post. it was quite moving. and great comments too from readers. scrolling down after reading this post, to the pic(s) of your daughter, it looks like your dancing spirit has influenced her! what a cutie.

  13. carlene-- thanks so much for your words... and they are wise, wise words. words that I am really going to meditate on and take to heart. you speak with such experience and love and knowledge that I can't help but feel comforted.

    anonymous-- thanks again for sharing your thoughts here. I think we need more dancers/artists like you out there! you seem to be completely invested... whole spirit, heart and mind. and it seems like you're open to learning, to putting yourself out there... that is not an easy thing to do. you will be a stronger dancer/artist/person for it, for sure. as for the atlanta scene, I guess everything is relative. we get both ends of spectrum. that is, we occasionally get a progressive modern co. to come through here but not as much as you would think (or as much as I would like). I think it has to do with money and what the masses will go see and blahblahblah. anyway, thanks for the breath of fresh air (the encouraging words).

    lora and shash-- thanks for the encouraging comments... boosting my spirits in so many ways...

  14. The "adventure" that you are on right now by far outweights the 'journey' you were on prior to the coming of your two darlings. Mark my words, one of these days you and Ward-O-Matic will look back and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this time in your life was not only well worth it, but fun in its own way...carpi dium!