I dedicate this blog to my very first dance teacher, Ms. Cheri. Her guidance and mentorship were the first to pave the way when the birth of my childhood love took place. And that first love was dance...When my super narrow, petite feet slipped into those Bloch dance shoes, it was showtime!
To finish reading the "The Creative Habit" (by Twyla Tharp) has been a challenge...or it seems that way because I glorify her as the dance Goddess in my inspiration book. Throughout her teachings, she provides a beautiful balance of truth, examples, and exercises, that have further stimulated my imagination. However, I am at the point where I am stepping away from the book to complete an exercise she has offered, in one of her earlier chapters, that speaks to me:
* Find a picture of your youth and depict what was taking place in that very moment
...I went the extra mile...
After asking my parents for an old dance photo, they responded with the generous amount of 3 and they all showcased defining moments in my development.
1) Four years old in a chicken costume:
Being that it was the first time in my life to ever take on the art of dance, the costume suited my feelings quite well.
Behind this fresh, makeup free, face stood a timid but curious child, uncertain about how to react to the newness surrounding her. I had never worn sequins or feathers before, I know I am supposed to smile...
*Flash Forward* - I'm walking into the lights, allowing the photographer to adjust my hands as they held the umbrella, I look off to the side and see not only Ms. Cheri, but my Dad smile - the flash went off and the moment was captured: A time where everything was unfamiliar and all was scary...And I liked it!
2) Eight years old in an Indian costume:
This was my very first acting performance, EVER. I played Tiger Lily, leading her tribe throughout the routine. Obviously, in this photo, I was extremely proud and confident to take on my first acting performance. I was determined to show the world what I had and nothing was going to stop me.
3) Nine years old in a competition costume.
I practiced my new solo act, for what seemed to be hours, just before having my hair professionally french braided for this photo shoot. Although this picture reveals my ensemble costume (rather than my solo costume),I found it to be just as important to demonstrate delicate grace at any given opportunity I had because, for the first time, I was being judged for a performance that is mine and mine alone. To see these eyes and lips painted to match my vision of elegance - I see deep within that smile - I was striving to leave a lasting impression.
Working through this exercise has helped me realize that I have been shaping and discovering my strengths throughout my life. I have learned that work, if it's to be judged and worth any value, must come directly from me...my passion, my motivation - as opposed to what others think I should be.
I wasn't always a soloist and I was an ensemble dancer every year throughout my journey at Ms. Cheri's dance studio. I loved and continue to love working with people in teams, but what I discovered through dissecting the emotional recall of my youth, is that - it was one thing to win a trophy that team work successfully made happen - BUT there was nothing like being singled out, in the center of the stage to show the world who I am. I didn't know if I had the capability to hold the stage all on my own and as scary as it felt, I knew I had to give it a try. The results? Let's just say that the feeling of becoming that entity, who practiced her solo every waking moment of her life - to have the judge announce her name and hand her that trophy, engraved - 1st Place...Only then did I know what I was truly capable of accomplishing.
All creative outlets are now pointing to the direction of cherishing the ability to take risks and to continue embracing newness. I'm left thankful of this strong reminder to continue to exercise the craft daily, find challenges within each development & work through them - And when my work is completed and finally ready for all to see, that 1st place trophy will be there...and so will the next development along the journey ahead...