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[personal profile] kistha
Once I lost most of the weight I realized I could go back to other dance classes, now that I was no longer obese, and was just chubby I wasn't afraid of the leotard anymore, not happy mind you, but it was doable. I added Ballet and modern into my weekly routine. I wanted both twice a week, but ended up at first with Ballet once a week and then added modern twice a week. Ballet was (and frequently still is) humbling. Modern is mostly good, but since they are both visual led dances, I'm slower than I'm used to being. Now I'm doing three hours in Ballet and still only two in Modern. Group classes are hard to find and are all over the damn place. I'm in Redmond, Bellevue, Greenlake and Cap hill.

Doing the summer showcase at the studio and having Grant let me build out the story arc, and help choreograph brought back very fond memories of the dance I choreographed and danced with Sam back in the day at Western. So many mental doors flew open. So many stories I wanted to tell...but ballroom is kind of restrictive. It's really taught and used as social dancing for fun or competition for perfect technique. There really isn't any call for story based performances for ballroom, unlike Ballet, Modern, Jazz....pretty much every other kind of dance on the planet. During the choreography for the summer showcase I was listening to a song called Sail by AWOLNATION while doing dishes and started dancing around with a bread knife (you know like you do). A story of a serial killer and her victims popped up. I worked on it for a bit, and then put it on the back burner. It simmered there, and every time I heard it, it became more defined, and more complex. I now need a company of dancers, and a complex remix of the song. Technical stuff pops up like UV lighting, cords, and props. But the more I focused on what I would want in the actual steps, I realized I just didn't have enough knowledge. Then Grant was leaving and I was getting tired of the drama and money crap at the studio, and I realized that I had put off dance once when I was 13 when I was told that I was too old to take Ballet, there was no point since my bones had fused. I put it off again when I was in early my 20's because Evergreen didn't work out on the first try, and they said to go to Cornish anyway. Then I got fat - and the dream died until Ballroom popped up. Sure I took Hula, and that was great - but ballroom is where I found that passion and a place to express it, but now I'd out grown what it had to offer creatively. I wasn't going to let this slip past me again, and if my body sabotages me again, well it'll happen while I'm out getting my dream goddamn it.

So I started looking for ways to get all the pieces and knowledge I wanted. I looked into getting it piecemeal in classes. I talked with my Modern instructor, and looked around. The answer I got everywhere was I can just go to a studio and start making shit up on my own, or I need to get a dance degree. I already know I don't know enough to wing it past maybe one or two small pieces here and there. Then I looked for schools, and there are only four:

Evergreen - which tells you right off that if you want a degree based in the classical forms you should go to Cornish. Also an hour and a half away.
UW - which doesn't give a shit about you at all, and only has three classes total for Choreography for the entire degree (and I'd have to go through the whole AA portion) or Audit for the same cost, with no labs ie studio time.
Western - Comprehensive, but you have to complete the basic AA, and then you can be nominated and audition for the BFA in your Junior year..Also an hour and a half away and don't really want to go home.
Cornish - A four year program all dance all the time, with a choreography track and is so small you must audition to get in.

Realizing that the only place that really works for me is Cornish was scary. Looking at the audition requirements was enough to make me realize that there was no way I could get in. I'm old (by dancer standards I'm approaching the end of my career, and if I was in Ballet it would have been over for roughly 9 years) and I'd be competing against 18 year olds that have been doing this since they could walk, and I must have intermediate Ballet to even audition.

I had a bit of a breakdown. Actually I had a pretty big one, the "just kill me now I'm too old for anything obviously, why get thin and get the dream if I can't have it - too old, too goddamn late" kind. Then [livejournal.com profile] dthon who is a fucking Cheerleader Pollyanna of Stubbornness pointed out that he knows the head of the dance department of Cornish, and he thinks she'll remember him. I wailed and whined and then had him ask if there was anyway I can get what I want anywhere else maybe. Do they Audit? Other Schools that I don't know about? Private programs? Ultimately she said that I could totally go to Cornish - if I get Intermediate Ballet, and that while my age won't disqualify me the thing that drives out most older students is the "sustaining the energy demands of 5-6 hours/day of dancing, and tolerate studying with immature 18 year olds.". Add some more wailing time with a side of fucking horror because for me Ballet is HARD and how long is that going to take? I started thinking really hard about it and how bad I want it.

I ran the idea across a couple of people - a few strangers, and a couple close friends over the last two months. While I'm explaining that obviously I'm batshit crazy, I'm really thinking doing this. So far everyone's reply has been "THAT'S AWESOME!" I keep explaining that I'm insane, and that it's hideously expensive, I don't know how long the ballet is going to take, and dude I'm already old and it won't become a paying gig. Everyone still thinks it's awesome and I should go for it. One person who has a dance degree told me that she thinks that with all my creativity I'll be awesome at my long term goal (more on that later.)

Then as Grant and I choreographed and performed our last showcase (it went OK, not awesome but it was done in a freakishly compressed time frame) I realized this is really what I want to do - tell stories through dance. I just have to have the pieces to do it. Losing Grant - the one person I have who's willing to work with me to choreograph and do lifts, I was just bereft. I can't give this up. So on Tuesday I talked with a ballet guy who after his ballet career went to Cornish and got his degree and he thinks that I should be able to get through intermediate in a year, maybe a year and a half. This makes it doable.

So I'm going to try. I'll be auditioning for Cornish next year, probably February 2015 for fall of 2015. My ultimate goal? Build a Company and perform with them for as long as I can, and then keep on choreographing. I'm going to take all the pieces I have and make stories. One way or another. Thank the gods I'm a stubborn bitch with a high pain tolerance, right?

As Grant was leaving teaching, and one more unbelievable money issue at the studio (asking me to pay for the showcase I was performing in) I left the studio, Saturday was my last night. I'll be keeping ballroom - with Miss P, the occasional Nathan and a new studio when we get back in February, but it won't be my main focus. I'm doing three ballet classes and hopefully picking up two private instructors. My Pilates instructor is already starting to work with me on my feet for pointe work which isn't required, but once I hit intermediate it's the next step and I've always wanted to do it. So I am. I need to cram in another Modern class in too at least, since the audition is at the intermediate level for both.

So there it is. I'm going for my dream. No regrets, right?

Date: 2013-12-13 03:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] karenjunker.livejournal.com
I shall look forward to your performances with great anticipation! PS I did dance at Cornish 40 years ago when you didn't have to audition -- it was awesome. You are awesome. It will be a great collaboration!

Date: 2013-12-13 04:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twilight2000.livejournal.com
Sounds like a grand new adventure!

You can ... but should you?

Date: 2013-12-13 06:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sgoilear.livejournal.com
Foremost, I believe most people can accomplish something extraordinary if they have enough 'stick-to-it-ness'. *You* can! Don't interpret this post otherwise. ;)

The three salient questions to ask yourself -- about any big endeavor:

Q1. Do you have the determination to see it through?
Q2. Will it be worth spending the money, whether you make it through or not?
Q3. Is there another way to achieve your goal with less money/risk/time?

A1. You're stubborn -- for better or worse. I think if you commit head to toe, you could 'gut through' the crummy stuff (and enjoy the fun stuff along the way!)

A2. A Cornish BFA appears to cost $140,000 at a minimum (20 years ago, at my university, you could get a BFA Dance for about $25,000 -- crazy tuition jumps!). That's a tough pill. If circumstances change in year three (e.g.: body, finances) would you look back with regret at your investment of time and money, or be satisfied that something beyond your control stopped your dream? Of course, I don't know how much you currently invest in dance annually; if attending Cornish wouldn't represent much change to your budget ... that makes things much simpler (and less stressful!)

3. First, I'll draw a comparison ... when young people ask me if a computer science degree is a good way to learn to code, I answer that it is, but that it's not the ONLY way, nor necessarily the BEST way. Spending $60K-$100K doesn't guarantee you'll code better than the other person who taught themselves coding, and worked in tougher and tougher gigs, building up their skills. Someone with a BS might produce good code ... but someone who's done it for a living for those same years probably does it better, has plenty of samples, and can get hired more easily.

At the end of your education/training, you want investor(s) and/or an existing company to ''hire'' you, right (fund the development and mounting of your productions)? Being a hub of regional dance ... are there studios/theaters/programs to which you could intern/apprentice ... build up a good reputation, learn additional technical skills, and in a few years, start producing shows?

On the one hand, you'd not have a BFA -- on the other hand, you'd have a number of productions in your CV, and a working relationship established. You could invest in auditing specific classes as-needed, but the overall cost should be significantly less.

Then there's venues like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and NewJelly -- for crowdfunding either the creation of a dance studio *or* a particular production. Maybe you become part of a studio, but they want you to fund your first show ... you've saved over one hundred grand [compared to a BFA], and maybe you can get other people to be patrons of _your_ art.

Date: 2013-12-13 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amheriksha.livejournal.com
Shoot for the stars! Sounds so exciting. :D

Date: 2013-12-17 01:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhienelleth.livejournal.com
We are never too old to pursue our dreams, ever. If it's in your heart (and I know it is) then I say go for it. Don't look back later and regret.

Besides, I have complete faith in you! :D

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