*Photo by Glenn Goettler
I think I am in utter denial of having left the sacred space of the Mystic Ballet creative venture, waking up to the terrifying heat and structure that has welcomed me back at school here in Texas. Yet I couldn’t think of a better mindset to find myself, in order to finally reflect over my exploit at Mystic Ballet this Summer.
I will take time later to formerly assess the findings of my undertakings with this ballet company. But for now I would like to meditate on some more personal observations.
This summer I intended to be someone that conducted research, someone who observed critically, discussed intelligently, gaining a broader and more informed perspective on life in a dance company. What I did not expect to be was someone who wanted to be involved in every aspect of operations, teaching, socializing, making constructive criticism, participating in social media, and genuinely affecting the atmosphere of the company.
As I increasingly projected my efforts to influence and elucidate positivity in the company I found that I was the one who was the most affected. In order to present an opinion, and interact in meaningful ways at Mystic Ballet I was forced to assess my own methods of communication and solidify my point of view on a great range of matters. I was certainly pushed out of my comfort zone in aspects like social media and practical business matters. However, I found that if I simply approached the problem with all that I had to offer (even if applied what seemed to be unrelated skill-sets), while being humble enough to ask for advice in areas I was not familiar with, the results were respect and admiration for my honest work.
I found myself adapting seamlessly (for the most part) from social company settings, to strategy meetings, one on one interviews, and critical performance experiences like Jacobs Pillow. I discovered that it was not necessarily about finding the perfect and clearly identified place (or job description) where I could subsist and thrive in the company settings but graciously establishing my own identity within the fabric of the company. The goal was not to become irreplaceable, but at the conclusion of this summer season with Mystic Ballet I felt that I had been able to contribute to it’s larger vision.
As I interact with more innovators in the art world I realize that this is where the true entrepreneurs and devisers of the current generation begin. They do not simply look for a position and fill it. There are many ways to go about following a passion. Fortunately I was granted time and resources to integrate and observe one of my passions (dance) in order to combined it with one of many of my other personal intrigues (writing, art critique, personal interaction, and arts management). I am not saying that I have come out of this experience with a grand master-plan. But I have come into a much greater understanding of what I bring to the arts world and that my potential should not have a discernable benchmark.
After a very long and tiresome rehearsal day I received an email from a company dancer. She explained to me that her driving force in dance is the inspiration she garners from others, along with the potential of being the provider of inspiration. Her comment made me realize that many times a powerful instance of inspiration from someone in the dance world can provide a sense of kinship almost instantaneously. I learned this summer that this exchange of charged artistic influence extends in both directions. It is not to be recycled, but to be executed continually.
Last week I sat down with an alum from my boarding arts high school, Walnut Hill. As someone who danced professionally for many years then sought to involve herself into other arenas like theatre production and entrepreneurial adventures she had poignant things to say to me about the current state of affairs in the dance world. She mentioned this concept of ‘influence’ and how instrumental it was to remember those in your life that had affected you in such a way to produce positive outcomes. But she also pointed out how we are challenged to remember that we have the potential to act as that influential individual for another human being. Not out of glory or self satisfaction, but rather a greater understanding of how much we can affect change through influence.
As I remember all of those at Mystic Ballet and how they have positively affected the way that I carry myself, I have been given a new opportunity to continue writing. As a new contributor to the dance blog DIY Dancer (www.diydancer.com) I vow to continually reflect upon those who have helped me garner the potential to influence more people while writing about the exciting happenings of the Dallas dance scene.
I already miss the dancers and administrators at Mystic Ballet dearly. I wish all of you a successful and fulfilling fall!