<p>Lately I’ve been inspired by some new artists. These artisits are actually from the early 90’s. I guess I’ve found appreciation in the works that were created during my discovering years.
What happen to the flavor we use to have? When I seen the male back up dancers I got really excited. Something you don’t see too othen now days within that genre. It brought excitement to the stage, it was something to see. Then they go into a freestyle. I’m so in tune with the beat of the track. Its about the accents. I’ve visualized some stuff that I need to write down. Here is the clip I came across from 1992! Wow, it almost feels that weird to type. But we are in the here and the now so let’s make the best of it. Get the flavor back.
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As we take note of nature in bloom during this time of year, I’m left to wonder if we as humans tend to see the blooming within ourselves. This of course is occurring right along with the season. Lately I’ve been inspired but I didn’t know how to go about writing about them. The past events during the last few months have left me idle in many ways. It wasn’t until yesterday that I was reminded that I’m still here. Despite the challenges I’m still here. We sat there having drinks discussing many things. Work, recent happenings, dating, and her again. Oh how this can be very interesting. I was reminded of things that would make Jeffrey & The Artists to continue to grow. More importantly I was reminded and taken back to the Columbia City days. The events and social gatherings of the Fall 2008. I sat confortable and at ease. It had been months since we last crossed paths. We picked right up from where we left off. I think those are the most important moments in our lives. It reminds us where we once were and where we are now. Beautiful moments as the sun was playing hide and seek during that early evening. I swirled the ice cubes in the miniature glass cup to my right.
I looked at my life as Petruchska. How relevant it was within my own personal life that it frightened me. This also brought forth realization of those past dreams. I accepted but I guess now I wonder do I play with fire or just look at it.
We stood outside the Madrona Studio along Lake Washington. The scene was a Carnival. There were lights, a stage, booths, popcorn stand, and circus performers. Donald Byrd’s new vision of the classic ballet “Petruchska”. The most avant-garde, genius , profound production I’ve seen to date. As I explained what the show I got excited again. I think it’s so cool that technology and dance has begun to have this merger in the dance scene. As an audience member to be instructed to move different places was very different. It was a tour. I was amazed. This was different. General dance audiences some into the theater and watch whatever is on the stage. In this case we were a part of the action.
For a moment I really thought this was going to work. However my intuition has been showing me signs of burning out. I’m preparing to sleep on some bench for it may be that experience I need in order to understand something. I have questioned my worth on more than one occasion. Does it seem fair to me to see myself as something that I could be. Money isn’t everything but its finance for the arts I’m starting to see is scarce as anything. I only speak of that because once you have a company it takes a long time to build if you technically began with nothing. I admit to wanting to drop out this game.
Motivation would be the word of choice today. I’m having to find it in the most strange of ways lately. What is it going to take for me to open up that book again?
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As the saying goes; “You are only as good as your last performance.” This is just about relevant upon today which marks the final performance of Seattle Opera’s Orphee & Eurydice. I’m a little sad because during this production it captured things within me in regards to my own experience of love being lost. The beauty of being human is the fact that we are able to experience different emotions at any given time. Man’s inventions and devices may try and mock these emotions but they can never be a replacement of the real thing.
During the month of February I had to challenge myself not only as an Artist but as a human being as well. Sometimes in our careers we get so caught up in the work that we forget the simple things that make us who and what we are. Each night I thought of that particular day to value each experience as importance. I would ask myself was each task completed relevant into making my future days better. This meant taking action in completing tasks that I would have skipped or forgot about. The daily rehearsal process of Orphee allowed me to think differently. I was also doing a lot of listening. It’s actually the score of the Opera that tells the story. As the dancer we are displaying the physicality of the story in space and time. Each scene carried a different emotion that had to be seen. This was interesting because moments of acting had to come into play. Portrayal of many emotions can difficult if it’s not our nature. As an artist we begin to explore these concepts more as the process builds. Its even until this last performance night that I find something new during the run. I’m very proud of myself to have completed my first Opera as a dancer. In all, I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Seattle Opera and their stellar staff.
I enjoyed rehearsal moments because each session felt like being on set for a movie. As we pieced together phrases, we investigated how the movement would work on a raked stage and a mound. It was therefore a challenge for our bodies to adapt to the environment. It was great working with the other dancers. Everyone was very focused on their objective to make it work. The bonding moments after interaction was the most significant for myself. Will I miss it? Of course I will! I’m now more curious about the Opera and how dance is used within them. Everything about this production was very rewarding. I met some wonderful Artists and Singers. I will also miss the Mccaw Hall in which the theater is so beautiful. Certain nights I caught myself thinking this is the very stage that the PNB stars grace during their season. Oh how it gave me encouragement to know that I was getting closer. The road ahead still has challenges but I face them like we all must do. This is not the time to be afraid of who we are and what we CAN be.
Earlier this week I gained inspiration from a class that I teach once a week here in Seattle. It was rare since I’m usually punctual when it comes to teaching or taking any class. I was taking the bus to Madrona Park and it happen to be rush hour traffic downtown. I had a feeling that it would be a while due to the nature of transit. I would arrive about 5 minutes after 6pm. I called to inform the studio. Once there I was told the attendance sheet had already been taken upstairs into the class. It was around 6:10pm that I walked into the studio to find the students facing the mirror starting the warm up together-no music, just counting and watching each other. I was shocked and very impressed. The sight confirmed to me that those who were present wanted to be there and ready for instruction. I thanked them for starting the class and apologized for my being late. I then continued the class with them providing challenging exercises to prepare them for what was to come. My energy and approach was stern yet subtle. I had to gather their intent to enhance their development. It amazes me the progressions that some students make when they understand consistency. I can at times see students correct themselves during an exercise that they’ve done before. They improve their posture, alignment and focus. It tells me they are taking in the information that was provided earlier in the training. Those little things are good to see because you begin to see the artistry within the student. After such a tough wee it really inspired me know that I’m doing this for a reason. Even when it feels routine, how is it that I make if different and unique. Just that small action of the students being available was the sight I needed to see.
Artist, Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher, Actor, its so many titles yet working as one is never quite the real fun. At this stage in my life I’m whichever the experience allows me to be. This is why being human is so great. Our thoughts change who we are. Thoughts become ideas that should manifest before our very eyes.
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Opening night is February 25, 2012!
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You can’t call yourself a Teacher if you’ve never been the student. This is back to the basics as I see it. What’s the wrong in letting go of past ideas to make room for the ever flowing thoughts, ideas, dreams, and passions that live in our ‘own” realities. Holding on to things past keep us in one place. It’s sometimes hard to escape those pasts due to fear. I have faced that fear and now I use my own axiom to move my journey forward.
While working with Wheeling HS last month I was on so many thoughts as I was now away from Seattle. I’ve been here before and something about this I enjoyed. The dancers were ready and open to the ideas I presented during the choreographic sessions. The process then became a puzzle to form with variations being at our disposal. I wanted to play with the idea of how things are seen when we are within a box. I found the beauty within that space knowing that many shapes could form within it. This idea then finishes with the dancers outside the box. The walls contained them are now broken and spaced about in the given space. Dancers place themselves by the object to reveal the vast variations of movement without being contained. The working title for the ballet is “Systematic box Theory”. They say “home is where the heart is”-right? Well I certainly find truth in that. Even when everything has changed you still find that reality of family and loved ones. It was the best time for me emotionally. Having the chance to actually see friends and family was special to me. I’ve been away so long and it is those whom we are close to we begin to miss. I started to capture scenes with my camera in certain locations of the city. I was on the campus of Wayne State University. The most significant night I had there was being able to retrace my actual pathway through the campus. We crossed Anthony Wayne Drive to cut side to the parking structure. All these years and that moment rushed all my past memories during my freshman year of college. This wasn’t just thoughts of my course of study. This was of the things learned outside the studio. The growing and finding independence without the known comforts of home.
Those are the years in which we begin to form our integrity. No longer are we under one idea that was perhaps instilled in us. My training always included the study of being a student. When I began my dance training I really had to find that connection between movement and musicality . I was also tuned in on the voice as well. Power of the voice in which communication is key to allow dancers to grasp the idea. When it came to taking classes I tuned into everything. Keep an open mind, absorbing information. Learning. I also had to put this idea into other aspects of my life as well. We begin to make choices for ourselves. The choices we make somehow lead up to where we are now presently. During this process our integrity becomes a little more congealed. We have been exposed to vast ideas and we give and take. What works for some may not work for others. We should remain receptive to what the universe is telling us. From there our morality and values become a practice. Without the practice we can’t fulfill our own goals. Whatever our passion may be it should then become a practice. With this idea we are clear of the fundamentals that this passion brings us. This becomes our very own artistic integrity. The most important element is that we never stop wanting to learn more.
My practice of being a professional dancer is being rewarded with the chance to work with Seattle Opera. The production of “Orphee and Eurydice” will open during the end of February. The process is very fast pace as the choreography and staging are simultaneously occurring. We are dancing in this bamboo fabric which gives a creature effect to the movement. The themes of lament, anger, and happiness are toyed with in this Opera. The dancers are to display these themes during different scenes. The dancers are remaining open to the ideas and concepts. We are still in the building phase of the Opera but it appears to be coming together well. The weather during the past week was beautiful. I discovered new things upon walking to different areas of the city. All of this and processing what happened during this past month. I’m back on a new mission because I realize it takes more to live here in this city. Forgive me for being an Artist who still struggles to make ends meet. We are at times forced to let go of certain things to get us to the next level. It’s the choices we make that are solely on us. It goes back to that Artistic Integrity. The greatest lesson I’m learning right now is the value of time. Lately I’ve been thinking about just doing my own thing. I’m not worried about what other people may interpret. The most important saying I’ve heard while studying at Philadanco was “You have nothing to prove, but everything to share”-Deborah Chase. I’m starting to understand that idea.
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It began to snow here in Seattle late Saturday night. I awoke to a scene out of a winter wonderland movie. The ground however didn’t accumulate much snow until later that Sunday. It’s snowing in Seattle. From my apartment I could hear the excitement from young children who were playing outside-which was rare. Being that it was Sunday it was also the day families were out and about here in Capitol Hill. Sunday being much more like a Monday to me I was scheduled to teach class on that day as well. There was some uncertainty as to whether class would be held or not due to the weather conditions. As it was decided to go ahead with the class there we were braving the elements in route to Spectrum. I know from living here in Seattle that when it snows it’s not taken lightly. The city has many hills in which make it very challenging to either go up or coming down in such conditions. When it snows here I like everything then slows down even more. Everyone is very cautious and things just happen when they happen. I was very engaged with the scenery of the Seattle neighborhoods. The snow highlighted the naked tree branches. I think because of the number of trees present, it was that more beautiful to see. The grey clouds passed through the Puget Sound in a calm manner. Some clouds were darker than others which was cool. Others too had braved the elements to attend class on that day. I had this warm feeling inside once I knew people were actually there for class. It was a small class but a very good class. After the class some of the students and I travelled down the road to Blue Water. It sits right off Lake Washington. Upon our exit from the studio we learned the snow had picked up even more during the past hour. Watching a snowfall over a lake has to be one of the most calming experiences to witness. A new nostalgia began to take over my thoughts. Though this snowfall was rare for some, for me it was more like a gift. Born and raised in the Midwest snow was pretty much expected during this time of year. It reminded me of one of my birthdays when I was really young. In Detroit my father braved the harsh cold and snow storm to bring home a birthday cake for me and the family. It was during those birthdays that I was able to accept these weather conditions. Brushing snow off a car also gave me thoughts of the past. Before we were driven to school in the mornings it was expected that the boys get out and shovel the snow. We also had to clear the snow off the car and start the car up to warm up. Some of those mornings were brutal. I can only remember one year that we actually started putting the car in the garage. This was due to the fact that now only one fishing boat sat inside instead of two. This is winter. The practice of knocking snow off your boots against the base of the car door and house door before stepping inside was normal. As I dined with friends at Blue Water I couldn’t help but to glance out the window onto Lake Washington. It’s almost as though Seattle was now starting to see 4 seasons. I thought about my time here in Seattle and how it was coming up on a year since I last left here. So many memories came back. My thoughts on my transition during this time last year was so promising-or so I thought. As I really grasped that I was here again I couldn’t help but to just feel thankful. I’m working and doing things that I enjoy and they are actually starting to show promise.
I was glad to wake this morning and say that “I’m 26”. The number did scare me a bit. When I was younger I never thought about 26. 25 was certainly the coin number but 26 is like ‘umm ok’. It’s the age in which being even more responsible as an adult comes into play. In the end I’m grateful to see another year, this being a special year as well. I fly to Chicago this Wednesday to work with Wheeling High School. I’ve been working on a new work that I’m to set on their dance company. My challenge is the three days I have to set it. I’m excited for this because that’s generally my turn around time to set a new ballet. I’m working as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Doing all three is very challenging but rewarding at the same time. From there I travel to Detroit for a week. I host the very first Jeffrey & The Artists Workshop. The workshop will consist of a Master class and Open rehearsal of our first dance project. I’m thrilled to get into the studio to begin creating. It was around last week during my teaching that I found this drive of choreographing. I’ve began working with my young students by pushing them more creatively. I’m allowing them more freedom of interpretation when it comes to dance choreography. I enjoy watching the development.
Once in Chicago my gears will shift. I’ll be working with new energy and dancers. This project is dear because the message in the work is about “color”. As I was dealing with many emotional issues last year I wanted to reflect on what causing those issues. Apart of that message was evident in “The Message” in which was set on WSU Dance Company One last fall. This being a new year and a rebirth of myself it was color that missing. I was immersed in a grey period for a while. It was really hard to bounce back to the drive that was once lost. I found myself only being vibrant on the stage. Once off the stage I was back to closing myself in and just not wanting to deal. I was discouraged because I was shifting my focus from performer to artistic director. Was I good enough? Did I have enough experience to call myself that? It wouldn’t last. You are wasting your time. All these things swam in my head. I took myself away from everything. I sheltered myself only then to wonder where this sadness came from. It was from me. I needed color back into my life. Variety, chance, hope, and faith. Days leading to this I began to take small steps in changing habits. Pushing myself to do more and see more. Some days the first step was just to make it outside the house. I’m still making adjustments to my life just like anyone else. This trip is what’s needed right now. I can explore that color again. The message in which I hope to display in this new work is not to forget about the color in our lives.
“Faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase”-Martin Luther King Jr. This being such an important year for me I’m living that principal. I’m taking bold steps this year and I’m on with that. I can accept. Another year I’m able to see. It is this year that my outlook on things take new meaning. I love my line of work. I love being an Artist. Thanks to all who shared this day with me at some point or another. Let us not forget about those who are no longer with us. Those figures are the ones who shaped us into what we are today. Take your first step.
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