“The Church says: the body is a sin. Science says: the body is a machine. Advertising says: The body is a business.
The Body says: I am a fiesta.”
~ Eduardo Galeano
I'd like to share with you some of the most refreshing reminders I've had in a while about art/practice/life from the lens of my favorite dancer, Donna Mejia. Insert your craft, practice, etc., here:
1. Celebrate both newcomers and virtuosic practitioners for their unique and distinguishing aesthetics. Try to avoid letting dance become a weapon of status, social mobility, power, homogeneity, hierarchy, assumptions of attractiveness and general harm. Examine the ways in which your dance choices uplift OR bring down a community. When evaluating if your choices are sustainable to a healthy community, ask yourself where we would all be if everyone made a similar choice?
2. Don’t be afraid to make “bad” art! Experimentation is a crucial part of locating one’s inspiration and expertise. For every success there should be thousands of questionable attempts. Support others and reserve judgement as they take their own bold steps to towards their curiosities and fascinations.
3. Allow your relationship with dance to transform, change, shift, ebb and flow as time passes. Do not grieve the passing of one phase to the next. All possibilities have a nourishing contribution to you as a mover over time.
4. Do not, for even one nanosecond, believe that you aren’t a “real dancer” if you don’t get paid or perform in front of audiences. Neither is required to be a legitimate artist. A poet is still enduringly a poet even when washing dishes. Performance and payment is never an accurate barometer of success. Continuing that line of thinking, there is no sin in a day job. In fact, covering one’s basic financial needs and dancing on the side is a rather intelligent choice. Being “hardcore” for dance doesn’t equate to being foolish.
5. Seek education about the social/political/economic forces, historical influences, and contributing voices that have been pivotal to your chosen dance practice.
Conversely, know that many “great artists have found their voices in the arms of solitude." Hence, it is valuable to embrace chapters of deep, investigative inquiry in isolation, and without apology. These phases cannot be forced.
6. If serving as a teacher of dance, be generous in spirit. If you are not emotionally prepared for one (or many) of your students to eclipse you in stature or financial reward, then please get out of teaching. Remember that you are not responsible for all students’ blockages or challenges, nor can you take credit for their personal successes. Teachers are guides who point the way forward. If done well, students will always be grateful and teachers receive the respect that gratifies and dignifies all of the effort."
Thank you for the reminder, Donna.
What. A. Babe.
I am but a world, some flesh and bones to keep it in.