To any young dancer who's considering or questioning education at a post-secondary institution. This is what I learned and am so abundantly grateful for during my experience at school:
How to not affect movement. To understand, appreciate and value movement just the way it is without imposing myself or my ideas of what it should be onto it. THIS was particularly difficult for me to unlearn - how to take myself out of the material and find the beauty in that...the core, truth or simplicity of the material. "The thing itself" (quoting Douglas Bentz).
How to move with FUNCTION, safety, awareness. To identify the difference between effort and intelligence and to understand the body in an entirely transformative way. A way that has totally healed me, and relieved me of pain and injury. Straight up - just taking a thorough kinesiology class and applying the language and knowledge.
Compassion. Patience. Real listening and teamwork. What it means to breakdown my own ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, 'cool' and 'uncool' dancing. Practicing how to get connected with my empathy and to see every choice around me as a valid one... as useful information because other people's choices are tools that empower and influence my own. Truly learning how to love or make friends with what I don't know, What isn't me or how I see things. REALIZING how that makes me a whole person, one that is apart of this world and this democracy.
How to pursue failure. To redefine the term for myself. To enjoy it? Because that is precisely where opportunity lives. Because that's also where we learn humility. (This is also a day-to-day practice haha). To give myself the permission to fall everyday, to be honest and ugly and vulnerable. To witness the serious magic that is created when you and everyone around you feels the freedom to do the same.
How to say "no" - with assurance, respect and love. Something that is still particularly difficult because we can't control the outcome or how those we look up to will react to what we have to say. To say "no" with a sense of detachment. That all it really means is that you know where you draw your line. It isn't a reflection of your worth. It's self-advocacy and activism for your community.
And all these things. That unraveling, unpacking and deconstructing of myself has allowed me a new freedom. It's allowed me to actually find more individuality, to make more choices and to see more potential in myself as an artist and as a person. It's allowed me to see the abundance ahead and take in how much I still really DONT KNOW!! How cool!! Always things to learn and discover.
I will say this is in combination with being surrounded by the most supportive and inspiring community - family, friends and mentors that provided both the soft net and hard truth that encouraged personal risk taking and helped me build some grit. I feel awake and available and so brutally full of gratitude.
Thank you Point Park. Thank you summer dance programs. Thank you UofT. Thank you injuries. Thank you disappointments. Thank you mom - I'm reminded all the time how lucky I am to have your support and engagement in what I do. Thank you friends - you are constant inspiration. And thank you teachers - you have changed me and the way I see myself.