September 25. 2016
Today Alysa Pires came into class and told us all about her experiences when she left Ryerson’s dance program and how she found her niche as she became a professional dancer in the real world. I found her talk really great because she brought to light not only how our program at Ryerson can be a little hard to understand based on the feedback we receive and how everyone’s Ryerson experience is different.
She mentioned how she was a bit of a teachers’ pet growing up and how she was lucky that she had so many choreographic opportunities come her way, largely due to how faculty admired her work. But I thought it was really grounding and humbling to understand that now; as she reflects on her Ryerson experience years later, she acknowledged that she created work that faculty would like and likely include in one of their shows. I felt a little uneasy when she said this because immediately I thought of my own work that I’ve been lucky enough to present and perform in at Choreo last year. I also wonder if they chose my solo mostly because it was just different for having live music and would be an interesting piece to have in the show or if they truly valued the choreographic components to my work. I always wrestle with this notion of if my work is enough or if I’m actually valued or not. But I think this largely comes into play because I have a hard time acknowledging my own accomplishments without the help of others or at least some sort of outside reassurance. This makes me wonder sometimes if I’m cut out for this kind of industry because if I rely too heavily on the approval of others to determine the value of my work and who I am as an artist I will probably go insane.
One thing that I did find really inspiring and helpful was the idea that because 1st and 2nd year the faculty basically tries to make you the same as everyone else by drilling in all this technique that needs to be covered, it’s what you do in 3rd and 4th year that determine who are where they need to be. It’s the itch that never seems to let up, the festering desire to dance or create that will shine through and will make you the individual and the unique dancer that you always were. I feel like so far I have made a few strides as to establishing more of a personal and unique way of developing my own abilities as a dancer. First with learning how to choreograph on a large number of people with my piece that opened the A show along with my solo that used a unique set up of live music with live improvisation between both myself and my highly esteemed friends and musicians. Still regardless of what I’ve done so far, I’ve always been skeptical of the weight of which my work may have or if it is just a matter of giving the teachers what they want to see. The one thing I know for sure though is that I learned so much from each individual process and that it was truly the exploration of choreography that kept my interest and kept me wanting to uncover more about how to re-arrange and establish an idea in a realized form.
The last thing that really struck me after Alysa’s talk with us was when she reiterated the importance of using studio space while it’s still so accessible to us and to just experiment with friends and me unafraid to ask others to test out some new concepts or just ask for an outside eye. I feel like it’s so easy to get caught up amongst the hustle and bustle of school and dedicating our time to our classes but it is so important to take time for yourself and your own curiosities to again help in developing who you are as a dancer and not just another good dancer that graduated. What makes you unique and special is what you do with your time, your curiosities and your friends and I want to truly fulfill this idea for the rest of this year! In addition, I think it’s important to develop a sense of gratitude and generosity when working with others and remain open to all that this program has to offer because there is so much to learn and every opportunity will enhance my understanding of who I am as a dancer and ultimately will tell me where I want to take it as I leave. So as of right now I want to really make use of the tasks presented to me and I want to put more of my heart and soul into my work. I want to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be and if I don’t put in the extra hours of reviewing and thinking about what I need to work on, how do I expect to get any better? My new mantra is practice by doing. I will try to achieve this by exploring in a studio at least once every week. Whether that means that time is spent on my own working on monologues or new movement phrase concepts or if it means working with others to generate some material just for fun, I want to harbour creative thought. I want to generate material and a stronger awareness of my own body and be less afraid to just aimlessly create. By having time set aside to be in a studio then I can approach working through the tough bits with less apprehension as well as experiencing and feeling movement with less pressure of seeing a result instantaneously.