Thanks to Natalia for forcing me to come up with these, because one must always have goals, and putting them down on paper (or blog) makes you organized and keeps you focused. I’ve divided mine into three basic categories:
1) CUT BACK ON EXPENSES.
Unfortunately, I think my biggest goal, at least regarding my greatest dance love — ballroom — is going to have to be to cut back. Looking over my expenses the past year, I’m a bit overwhelmed (okay a lot overwhelmed) at how much this wonderful hobby has cost me. I had wanted to go to Brazil this February for Carnival, and it looks like that’s not going to happen, I’d wanted to do some more travel even to places as close as Washington D.C. (do-able, but not without fret about cost), and even looking into possibly adopting another pet since my dear Najma passed away last year freaked me out a bit expense-wise. I simply have nothing left over in my leisure spending allotment after all of my ballroom. My parents, embarrasingly, have even had to help me pay for showcase, costume, and private coaching costs a bit here and there. Plus, my studio has just increased their prices $10 per private. So, with each private costing $95, each coaching $150 on top of that (for both teacher and coach), costumes running a minimum (and I mean very very minimum) of $500, and I don’t even want to say what the showcases cost, you get some clue as to the thousands. Not a happy bank account have I.
So, I’ve decided that, since of course giving it up is completely, ridiculously out of the question, I must force myself to take only one private lesson per week, and do either one showcase or one competition per year (ONE is the key number, in other words). Perhaps I can take one or two group lessons per week, but I’ve really got to watch that expense as well.
2) RELAX, LET LOOSE, AND HAVE FUN.
Second, and related to my first goal, I attended several Alvin Ailey performances this season and was really just mesmerized by what I saw. Watching the dancers closely, I realized Ailey must have had an extremely wide dance background including not only ballet, modern, and jazz, but African and Latin as well, because the way his dancers move incorporates all of those. And, I specifically saw some Samba, both in Revelations and other dances, and not only in the hip and pelvic movements generally, I mean I also saw some of the exact same steps I have learned in ballroom. And I felt like these dancers moved so amazingly. Jazz dancing is “bigger” than Latin ballroom, in that you take far larger steps and really work on moving your body without restraint; with ballroom, you must take very small steps and keep arm and upper body movement very small and controlled so as not to whack your partner or others on the crowded dance floor. And, because of this forced constraint, I found the Ailey dancers so much more interesting than ballroomers. Often at the ballroom competitions, there’s so much smallness of movement in Samba that I can’t even really see the dancers moving their hips and contracting and expanding their pelvises; it looks almost the exact same as a traveling form of Cha Cha to me.
Teachers at my old school used to tell me that studying any dance outside of ballroom besides ballet may well hurt my ballroom, mainly because of the uncontrolled movement. But these Ailey dancers just moved in such brilliant ways; really made me want to learn what they do. Plus, it looks so damn fun! So, I have decided that I will start taking some jazz, street samba (the Ailey School teaches it!), and African, in addition to my ballroom, at schools that offer group classes in those areas like Steps, Broadway Dance Center, and the Ailey school. If it hurts my ballroom technique, so be it. I love the way these modern dancers move and I’m not ever going to be a professional dancer, so it might as well be fun for me!
3) WRITE WRITE WRITE.
Third, I’ve realized through some recent discussions with friends and work and writing associates that a lot of people really don’t understand two basic things: 1) how frigging hard it is to become a great dancer — good enough, that is, that people will actually spend money to come see you perform; and 2) fun as it may be for most of us, dancing is actually a profession for others, and those others deserve to be taken seriously, just like doctors and lawyers and other professionals, and should be compensated appropriately. I came upon these realizations when some of the aforementioned friends and associates expressed difficulty understanding how I, with two whole years of part-time dance experience, could possibly need MORE practice (don’t I know everything already???), and that I actually had to pay for my teachers’ services — particulary at competitions and showcase events — as if my showcases and competitions were supposed to be so much fun for THEM that they were willing to forego an entire day’s worth of teaching wages to spend the day dancing with me, as if they don’t have rent to pay like the rest of us… Anyway, these discussions really enraged me, and one of my goals, as a fledgling writer, is to create more respect for professional dancers through not only this blog, but hopefully with magazine and newspaper writing that I will actually be compensated for, please please!
I also intend to attend as many ballroom competitions as I can — already have my tickets for Blackpool in May, of course of course! — and will most definitely blog about them, and take as many photos as I can, which I will put on the photo page here. I may take a course in digital photography, through the School of Visual Arts perhaps — to learn how to make better use of my camera.
And, finally, I intend to write my next novel this year, and to have it finished by the end of the year! It will deal, in some way, with dance, which is what that goal is doing in this blog entry, though I’m not sure how much of it will be devoted to dance, since, of course, plot and theme change a bit as you’re going about the writing process. But definitely definitely there will be dance in the novel My last one took me one year, at least to get the first draft down, and I’ve already started this one (okay, I just have about the first 500 words!), so I am giving myself until, at the very very VERY latest, the end of the year. And, if I’m not finished and don’t have it out to my agent by this very day next year, please someone shoot me!!!!!
And of course, ballet, my lifelong love: I’ll be going to every performance I have the time and money for, am just sending off my ABT subscription renewal to their Met season now and will likely run down to D.C. for a couple of Othello’s this January (since I’ll likely miss that ballet during their Met season, when I’ll be in England). And of course, I’ll obsessively be reading The Winger…