When school is over and there are no more required weekly classes to attend, most dancers begin thinking about how they are going to keep their body in shape for the next school year. However, this summer I realized that maybe dancing wasn’t on the top my list of summer priorities. I decided not to dance as much as I would during the school year but I still wanted to stay in shape.
This was the first summer that I didn’t look for a place to dance or travel home to my home studio to take classes . I decided I was going to get a job and save as much money as I could for the following school year. I ended up getting a job at a daycare in the Fairmount area, working five days a week. My days were usually filled with work, a stop at the gym, and maintaining my social life. Still, I had that itch that all dancers get. My body needed to move and the gym just wasn’t enough.
Week after week I was checking Instagram and Facebook to see if any of my friends were teaching classes in the area or nearby so that I could at least dance a little. Unfortunately, anytime a friend of mine was having a class I was either too exhausted from work or had no way of getting there. After a while I recognized that it didn’t seem realistic for me to try and juggle all the things I was and add dance on top of that.. So, I started exploring other options around the city. I went on mini adventures with friends throughout Philly, took day trips to the beach and went on a vacation that definitely did not go as planned.
Even though I wasn’t dancing, I was still happy and taking advantage of any free time I had and doing other things I loved. I think as dancers we’re constantly worried about being in shape and being able to dance to our fullest potential, but sometimes taking a break from all of that is necessary. It’s ok to maybe focus on your job outside of dance more or go on some adventures with friends and eat some not-so healthy food. As I grow up and get more into this “adulting” thing, I’m realizing it’s harder to do the things you want compared to doing the things you have to do, like work. I was lucky enough to find a job that I enjoyed and would help me in the future with my career. When we’re in college, we tend to struggle with making as money as much as we spend. And as we all know, dance classes and intensives are not cheap.
So maybe taking a summer, like I did, to get a job and make some decent money is ok as a dancer. Though I love to dance, I’ve found that being realistic about my financial situations is beneficial in the long run. I’m glad that I was able to take a step back from dancing and get a hold on my outside life. Now that I’m back to dancing, I feel a lot more confident in my future and opportunities to explore it.
This past summer I scored my first professional contract. Yes, that is right, I (finally) got paid! And it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that Temple is one of the reasons for that.
As a freshman, I had the pleasure of auditioning for my first winter residency. I was thrilled when I found out that I had been selected to perform the work of Atlanta based choreographer, T. Lang. I had no previous knowledge of her but once the program started, I fell in love with her movement, ideologies, and process. She was unlike anything that I had ever seen before.
At the end of our week together, we had constructed not just a piece but an experience. An emotional ride through the stages and challenges of loss. She taught me about intention and why it was important to create a story for your movement. She told me that “If you don’t believe it, no one will”. As the residency concluded, I realized that I needed more. More of T. Lang, more warm ups to Erykah Badu, and phrases featuring Al Green. Come to find out T. Lang, along B-Girl Teena Marie Custer, hosted a summer intensive.
So, I saved my money to attend the program in Atlanta. I went to the week-long intensive and grew in more ways than one. One thing that was really enforced was the concept of community. T. and Teena fostered an environment that was safe, lacked traditional judgement, and emphasized working together. It was a very different experience from intensives that I had attended in the past.
This awesome program culminated with an audition to perform with T. Lang ATL at the Atlanta High Museum of Art’s Summer Kick Off Party. I decided at the last minute to audition and I got it! Within the hour I was signing a contract committing to 3 weeks of rehearsals, a show, and agreeing to pay rates. I couldn’t believe that it happened so fast. We all wait for the day to say that we have “gone pro”. It was a strangely satisfying feeling.
I lived in Atlanta for a month. I spent time with family, made friends, rehearsed extensively, and got to close it out with a fun-filled show. This job really made everything come full circle for me; it reinforced that I picked the right program. Without Temple and our faculty’s dedication to our success, I probably wouldn’t have come into contact with T. Lang. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
If you are interested in seeing what T. Lang is all about click here. I highly recommend her summer intensive. Go and experience T. and all her wonder.