Baby, it’s cold outside! Of course, this is just one caveat to New England life. But, to think, I was in Cocoa Beach just last week, basking in the jungle sun and getting a little color in my skin.
All in all, September has been a month well spent. As my dance friends know, this was my time to re-connect with my long-lost non-dancing self and enjoy a mini-hiatus from all things dance. Early in the month, I was in Cape Cod for my sister’s wedding. Then, my boyfriend and I went to Florida for some R&R and (eep!) house-hunting. Spending so much quality time on my favorite beaches was nurturing to my soul and wonderful for my inner mermaid.
Artists are passionate people. We give it our all, and then we burn out. Then we want more. Dancing is supposed to be fun, but the nature of our work can occasionally be physically and spiritually exhausting. (If you adore dancing 100% of the time, I’ll take some of that Kool-Aid you’re drinking, please). This is why I’m a firm believer in taking time off every once in awhile – especially if you’re a perfectionist, a type-A personality, or prone to burnout. Personally, I qualify as all of the above. My coping strategy is to anticipate the onset of a “funk” and step away for awhile before it turns into full-blown depression. It works.
During my time off, I came to appreciate a new side of the creative process: the natural lulls between bursts of activity. Creativity, when you think of it, is a lot like spending time with a loved one. You cherish the peaceful silence as well as the lively conversation. Sometimes, artists like to make “small talk,” so to speak, forcing inspiration and activity when it isn’t coming to us. Next time you get that urge, stop. Be still. Take a moment, or a couple of days (or weeks) to find peaceful, soothing, meditative things to do. Observe yourself the world around you. Withhold judgement. Simply observe. Ahhhhhhhhh…isn’t it nice?
The funny irony about taking time off from dancing is that you’re still creating even when you’re not moving. You take things in, process them and react, without applying your own judgment or labels. For instance, you might garner more inspiration for a slow, slinky sword dance from watching sharks move through a tank than by watching 1,000 videos of sword dances on YouTube.
Now that I’m full of new energy and inspiration, I’m setting some lofty goals for my return to dancing in October. For the first time in two years, most of these goals are abstract, internal and spiritual, rather than technical:
- Dance from the heart, not the head.
- Teach myself to sew, and start making some vintage-inspired bedlahs
- Rekindle my love for Turkish dance. After two years of experimentation, I love Egyptian style on other dancers, but not on me. Turkish feels much better on my body and in my heart. Be truer to myself.
- Buy some ad space on Gigmasters and PartyPop
- Apply the Bruce Springsteen Theorem to my own dancing (I’ll blog about this soon!)
- Network, network, network!
- Accept where I am right now and nurture my fullest potential