DancerLife: A Series
Okay, while the world is (justifiably) exploding, it turns out that I do need to prepare myself to go back to work in the fall: my contract has arrived, and with it the knowledge that all my efforts to plan and implement plans between now and then are likely to go awry, but that it’s still worth attempting to plan and to apply lessons from last season to making next season better.
Since writing this blog is part of how I think about things (indeed, that’s more or less its primary purpose), here we are.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned that, for many of us, ballet isn’t so much a hobby or a job as an all-encompassing avocation that basically asks everything of us.
As a dancer, you reach a point at which either you’re like, “Nah, I’m good,” and just go on doing a recreational class once or twice a week, or you’re like, “I AM CALLED” and you basically hand Ballet (or Modern, or Hip Hop … whatever your idiom is) the keys to your life and it moves in.
That might happen when you’re six or when you’re sixty, and other things might try to get in the way, but when you’re called, you’re called.
(Quick note: whether dance is recreation or vocation, you get what you need out of it. No shade from me for recreational dancers. For that matter, honestly, they’re probably the saner demographic anyway.)
In everyday English, we mostly use the word “vocation” to mean, basically, “job.” For many, it’s that thing you do so you can do all the other things you’d do anyway (and that’s fine, too, though our work culture tends to make it feel unfulfilling -.-,).
In other contexts, the word “vocation” means “a calling:” the thing you do because your soul, or whatever, is irresistably drawn to it. It’s why people become monks and nuns and solitary ascetics that live in the desert. (And probably also physicists and mathematicians and academics in general.)
The lives to which such people are called can’t be neatly divided between “work” and “life.” To be a monastic or, for that matter, any serious practitioner of Zen, is to live a life in which there is no division between religious/spiritual/philosophical and secular life (qv Jack Kornfield’s After The Ecstacy, The Laundry or Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace Is Every Step).
- Hypothetically, this is equally true for everyone? But in terms of lived experience, these tend to be quite different animals.
Being a dancer is very much the same. Dance as a vocation demands wholesale devotion. It sets up shop in your kitchen, your bedroom, your wardrobe. It decides when you can hang out with friends who don’t dance, when you can stay up late, when you need to spend three straight weeks lying in a hot bath because #Nutcracker has just ended.
- This is largely true for artists in general, come to think of it–but dance, because it is so physical, is really good at making its demands felt. It’s also one of the rare artforms for which solo practice is an exception, rather than a rule.
Anyway, we toss about the hashtag #DancerLife all the time (and often in jest), and I think it’s a useful idea. DancerLife is all-encompassing.
And since there’s a learning curve involved in figuring out how to make it all work, I’m going to spend some time writing about how I’m learning to make it work for me.
I was also going to write only one post today–one about nutrition, preceded by a very brief introduction to the idea of DancerLife: The Series. But since it seems I’m constitutionally incapable of discussing an abstract concept in fewer than a jillion words … here we are.
So consider The Series introduced, and I’ll go write the first “official” post, which will be about nutrition and eating and not becoming ridonculously hangry in the middle of one’s workday and stuff like that.