So I have been referring to this period in my life as my "stewing period." It's my time to think. Everyday I'm realizing how different it is to get a BFA rather than a BS or even a BA... yes, every student learns a lot in college. But the science classes I'm in now are a huge switch. You learn the blood trace through the heart, and boom- you know the blood trace through the heart. It takes a lot to remember it, but ultimately this is the way it works and there isn't much more to ponder on after that. With a BFA, I'm constantly thinking back to moments in class that might have more meaning now than they did then. I'm wrapping my head around all that I learned. Having a degree in FINE ARTS requires a different kind of energy. Each part of art you create requires you to put a part of yourself in it. It requires a lot mentally and emotionally. It is as if you are learning more about you and how you relate to the world than any solid piece of fact and that process sticks with you. Several things have gotten me thinking about my dance degree this week.
The first was on my plane ride home from Boston during the Super Bowl. (The trip to Boston was amazing - I am lucky to have a friend as fantastic as Emily who I adore spending time with and the trip really deserves its own blog.) The man across the aisle from me formed an instant bond when we requested super bowl updates from the pilot. Much fun was had. In the space between game updates we made small talk. ("So what do you do?... etc.") Our conversation went something like this...
Him: "So I saw you studying over there- you must be a student. What are you studying?"
Me: "I'm taking pre-req classes for the nursing program, but I have a degree in modern dance."
Him: "Nice, my mom/sister/ cousin's best friend (you know how that convo goes...) is a nurse."
Him: "So what did you plan on doing with a DANCE degree?"
Me: "I wanted to be a professional dancer."
Him: "What like in P-Diddy videos?"
Me: "No... like in a professional company."
"Like the posters you see in New York City... "
" You know, Alvin Ailey..., Martha Graham?... Paul Taylor?... New York City Ballet?"
still a blank stare...
At this point I was trying to decide if I wanted to launch into the stimulating explanation of what dance as art is, how it has shaped my life, the history of it, the development of it... an explanation that, to do it justice, would probably take longer than the super bowl lasted, and soon I saw his eyes start to glaze over. (I like football, but really - you can watch men run back and forth tackling each other for hours but not make it through a 2 minute explanation of modern dance?) So I ended my explanation with "Well, I've been doing it for a long time, it's a huge part of my life, it just made sense to major in it in college."
"So why did you stop?" He asks.
I responded with, "I got tired of it..."
To this he tells me about how he is 35 and has been doing the same job for the last 5 years. He's tired of it too... it's getting boring. I just had to smile and nod. I didn't explain that even though I'm 23 and have been dancing for 19 years, when I say I'm tired of it, it's because it is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting... but it has NEVER been boring. I've probably done thousands if not millions of plies in my lifetime - but I've never been so bored with them that I decided not to do them.
So that had me thinking... really, why have I stopped? I'm a good dancer. I'm qualified to be in a professional company... so why am I not doing everything in my power to pursue that? Maybe this whole staying in school/taking a break from dancing thing is one really big mistake.
But then I read this article today. Why I Dance. By Jenifer Ringer
I agree with Jenifer wholeheartedly. She writes, "This world bombards us with words and instructions and flashing media, and it is so wonderful to be able to experience profound emotions simply through music and movement. It is an honor to be someone who interprets choreography with the hope that someone watching will feel blessed. I dance because I am grateful." This is why I dance, and at times, this is what I miss. But she also writes, "Dancing became a trap that swallowed up who I was and what I had wanted to be. I danced then because I knew nothing else. I was nothing else, and it was unhealthy. I spent a year away at age 25, not dancing at all." This is where I am now. It's not healthy to have your whole life revolve around one thing... not to mention spending all day everyday staring (criticizing) at yourself in the mirror. Dance has been my whole life for too long. This break is just what I need, and I'm enjoying it... There is a world out there much bigger than the inside of a dance studio, and I'm going to see and explore it all... well, most of it at least...