Finding Artistry in Everyday LifeJan 21, 2021
Joy upon joy: We have arrived in 2021! (Cue the streamers, the balloon drop and the firework display.) Looking back, 2020 taught us many lessons. We learned to pull close to our loved ones, via Zoom if necessary. We learned we’ve “got the stuff” to get through challenges…even whopping ones. We learned to make the most of dancing through a global pandemic, many of us dancing from home all or part of the year.
With all the good work we did through a rough year, we were lacking something essential to us as performing artists…live performances. We endured cancelled competitions, delayed recitals, and streaming-only Nutcrackers. Dancer, raise your hand if you missed donning your false eyelashes, feeling the warm glow of stage lighting, and hearing the in-person audience applause. (Me too.) And, while we can start to make out the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, we have not yet arrived there. We have got to muster up some patience (yes, more) and perhaps refresh our outlook to see us through to better times for dance in 2021!
We cannot control the trajectory of the pandemic (or anything outside of ourselves, for that matter), but we can control our perspective. Our perspective is our reality and we can rethink and reframe our it according to what we want and need in life. As dancers, we can look for artistry in our everyday life situations, uncovering gems of creativity, movement, and performance. If we are searching for these for moments of creativity, they can be found throughout the day – surprise moments when we find a precious opportunity to tap into our artistry.
Let’s discover outlets for creativity and rethink what “performing” (without a stage) looks like. Refreshing our perspective will help us to patiently and persistently make the most of this imperfect situation. Here are few ideas to find and seize daily opportunities to be creative:
✧ Make your bed with flair: Your first feet-meets-floor moments of the day can include some artistic style. Why not start your day with some mindful creativity: Try arranging your pillows in a new way – stack them differently, eliminate them altogether for a sleek look, or fold down the comforter on the diagonal.
✧ Dance shoe sculpture: Why not pull out your old pointe shoes (or perhaps your jazz or tap shoes) and display them in some way? Stack them on a shelf in a pyramid or hang a pair from the ribbons or laces on the wall. Seeing them displayed can whisk you away to a past performance or rehearsal and remind you of better times to come.
✧ Improv session: No studio also means no mirrors – a perfect opportunity to connect with your inner-artist and practice movement from this safe space. Improv to your heart’s content. If you are missing comradery, why not try connecting with a few friends via Zoom and share in this experience together?
✧ Dance your way to warming-up: Whether at the gym for a little cross training session or before you take a walk or jog, why not warm-up with some style? Satisfy your craving to move to music: don your headphones (I find this particularly helpful at the gym – keeps me from feeling self-conscious!) and do a few arm sweeps, plies, and other large, beautiful movements. Tap into your need to move to music and enjoy!
✧ Go for a walk: Again, let’s add music. Put on your headphones and choose your flavor. Let your music guide your stride. Lengthen your strides, move your arms, walk in step with the beat. I waved hello the other day to a lady (in her late 60’s?) walking nearby. She had on headphones, a sassy workout outfit (think animal print and bold colors) and a huge smile. She was singing at full volume along with Barry Manilow and practically dancing as she walked down the sidewalk. She was living it up as she got some exercise. #WalkingGoals
But what about opportunities to perform, you say? Dancer, I have no magic solution but offer you a chance to view preforming through a different lens: Performing, at its core, is giving from your unique-dancer self to an audience. Take away the stage, the lights, and the costumes and we can still apply this lovely equation in our lives: your artistic gifts + giving to someone = performance. With this new perspective, consider ways we “perform” in everyday life.
This past summer, after my girls’ competitions and recital were cancelled, they were thirsty for such an opportunity. In search of a creative outlet, we walked along the beach, gathering rocks, and then took them home painted them. We then walked back to the beach, placing the pretty-painted rocks in various places for others to find. We enjoyed the artistic outlet and the fun of offering beauty for others to discover. And while this could not replace their cancelled performances, it did satisfy our need to be artistically creative and give of that creativity to others.
Other ideas to “perform” for your “audience”:
✧ Make a someone a beautiful, healthy meal, artistically arranged on the plate.
✧ Choreograph an in-living room (or wherever) piece for someone and perform it over Zoom.
✧ Paint a picture for a friend.
✧ Edit and splice together a reel of your favorite performances over the years and share it with your dance family.
Dancers, we will return to the stage at some point. While we wait, let’s make the most of our time as artist-athletes and seize opportunities to satisfy our inner artist. Be looking for those opportunities to tap into your creative-artist side and then give to others.
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