“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
- Mother Theresa
As much as I adore updating about my progress in my own life, I feel the need to step outside of that this week. A big part of my life is the dance community, specifically the Chicago dance community. I decided that I would share my outlook that I believe in as an artist. With that said, here is my rant. Cue Prince's hit song 1999- " I was dreaming' when I wrote this, so sue me if it goes astray…"
A supportive attitude is a characteristic stemming from a place of love. Love is absolutely everything I live by. Every fiber of my being is made to give love, to accept love, to be in love, and nourish love. Love can come in many forms and is distinctively unique to each individual who is experiencing it. Love, to me begins from a place of acceptance for something or someone. Many people have lifestyles or careers where it isn't always easy to express love. I feel grateful that who I am as an artist is a full reflection of my love and passion for it. The entertainment world is capable of giving and nourishing love so easily, it's called support.
Artists, to me, are not only defined by someone skilled in a particular craft, but are also passionate about it. In turn, an artist's mindset should always come from a place of love first. We have the ability to see a distinct beauty in everyone and everything around us. Artists can appreciate ALL forms of art and are supportive to ALL individual's passions. Artists know how to take a compliment as well as stay humble enough to know that the inspirational, learning, and growing process is a never-ending cycle.Something that distinguishes artists from just "talented people" is that they have zero room or time for judgement on other people's work. The day an artist allows themselves to do that is the day they need to turn in their "artist cards."
I want to give some backing to where my opinions come from based on a collection of my experiences in the dance community. Originally turned onto acting, I joined dance at the later age of 10. I fell in love with expanding to another way of expressing yourself. The ability to work hard at something unique and physically feeling progress in my body. I loved how easy it was to uplift and support one another through words, music, team comradery, or even just the energies that one another would exude in a room or on stage. Compared to other circuits, growing up on the Chicago competition dance circuit was very competitive. I would not be alone in saying it is often turned into a negative atmosphere for artists.
Instead of dancers driven by their own passion for growth and support, a lot of dancer's pursued a cardboard cutout perfection just to beat out other companies. Every season I would witness dancers who would hop around from company to company bad-mouthing wherever they were last in attempts to get themselves ahead. There was a consistent lack of loyalty to their dance families. All too often you would experience company rivalry get out of hand. When one company would beat another, the dancers would have too much pride to congratulate one another and find ways to publicly trash the winner's dancing, artistry, or talent. Don't get me wrong, I am all for a healthy competitive spirit and team pride. In the more recent years dancers replace motivating and challenging one another to push their limits and abilities to the next level with gossip, not supporting everyone, and a major lack of humility in their character.
What's even more disappointing, is that it is not only in children that we see this type of behavior. Like I stated in last week's blog, I had the opportunity to perform alongside several dance crews from the Chicago area in a hip hop showcase recently. I, personally, had the privilege of experiencing a lot of positive feedback and supportive comments. My favorite one was after viewing a video of the performance someone said, " Whoa, at 5:15 Amanda makes me feel like I don't have complete control of my life and I'm actually in someone else's palms!"
Unfortunately, not everyone got feedback like that. In fact, earlier this week there was an "outbreak" of negative gossip regarding the Vicious family. A lot of hurtful words and rumors were said from other dance crews that are in Chicago. Needless to say, it was disappointing to know that grown "artists" have the time to act from a place of hate. The judgmental and analytically based remarks truly baffled me. I am proud, however, to be a part of a small intimate dance family that is Vicious. We have two things in our mind at all times- our passion for this, and our drive to be legendary.
No one who became legendary got there without having some backtalk, being gossiped about, or hated on. The only thing we as a family can do is what we already have done: stay humble, love every second of what we do/experience together, and work our butts off. Passionate people come with the price of having extreme emotions- that includes ALL emotions negative and positive. If people don't understand that without that sort of passion in our work and in our livelihood, that we wouldn't be Vicious at all. The reason we are a collective is not because we have the same dance ability, not because we all are the same body type, and not because we have the same strengths. It's because every single one of us has fought some sort of battle in our life, small or large, that has tested our character and tenacity. And because of that struggle or journey that we went through individually, it gave us the ability to come together and share the gifts that we were given, no matter how different, and support one another. And that's Vicious. There's nothing more to it. We dance. We work hard. We feel. -- and love every minute of it!
Back to my point of love. I find it a lot less difficult to accept someone as they are without reason behind it and love them. Love them unconditionally in hopes of watching who they are molded into, and be a part of someone's life in a positive way. On the other hand, I don't comprehend why so many individuals have the energy or time to judge and give reason behind their judgments, or "hate" someone. I can only continue loving the way I know how and hope it rubs off. With the recent drama and disturbances within the chicago dance scene, I find myself at a loss for words. Art is so beautiful when supported, accepted, and motivated. I cannot see how judging others helps our community and this facet of sharing passion grow. Maybe it's my lack of reason and overly accepting nature that is blinding me. But then again, love is blind. Conveniently, I came across this article backing my idea on love/hate. Feel free to check it out.http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-prove-it-really-is-a-thin-line-between-love-and-hate-976901.html
In conclusion, CHECK YOURSELF! If you consider yourself an artist and read through this, reflect on how you reacted internally to this. If you were rebelling my opinion then you already have proved my point and I thank you. I am in no way saying this is the right way to think, or the only way to think. I am simply stating my opinion and hoping to give insight. I would choose standing up for an opinion and vulnerably sharing it, over keeping quiet and never developing a sense of self. Consequently, you as readers are more than entitled to your own opinion on all of this. Please share it! I encourage you to. I will never expect everyone I encounter to think, feel, believe, or do what I do. Most importantly, I am always willing to embrace your perspective from a nonjudgmental place. I am very passionate in thinking the entertainment world could better itself as a community if we all just took the time we used to judge others and spend it accepting instead.
Till next time….
in between dress rehearsal and call time with Kris and Dome
A million things are going through a dancer's mind while in the midst of a performance. Listen to the musicality. Find your formation. Hit your level on this count. Nailed it. Remember to extend my lines here and not to rush. Breath, you have only finished the first section. Make eye contact with the crowd. And end pose on "1." Stay there, force the audience to react louder. Yes, they loved it. Walk off and smile. Whoa, all health issues considered, that felt pretty great!
a picture of the crowd from Urbanite.
Kris and I with other performers after our set.
A little over a week ago, I woke up feeling extremely under the weather. You know, the sore throat, achy body, fever/chills, and no energy to exert anything feeling. Yea. Being the overly stubborn individual that I am, I completely ignored it and went about my jam packed schedule of rehearsals, taking the train, teach, take the train, rehearse, etc. I was thinking that if I pretend it isn't there then the sickness will go away. WRONG. My symptoms progressed through the week. The fevers were spiking. Everything was beyond sore. Oh and that thing that I once considered tonsils, took over my throat like a dictator, conquering all the space back there to itself and suffocating/starving its enemy, me. My neck was so huge I looked like a rhino and couldn't eat much. I was beyond the definition of lethargic and worn out by anything I did. Even talking on the phone felt as though I had been running on a treadmill for an hour. Not good. I needed to get around this situation. No one's schedule ever allows for time to be sick.
" The only way out of something is through, never around." - Anthony Meindl
Well said Anthony, I could not get "around" being sick. Time to push on through. My sickness's timing was impeccable I must say. I had a performance coming up this weekend in southern Illinois. On top of that my group, Vicious, still had to put together our entire set for the show. This week was easily a huge test to my tenacity and will power. Bring it on. Accompanying me for the week was a backpack filled with medicines, vitamins, teas, throat drops, and orange juice. I am not about to let health beat me this week. No way. By the time Thursday/ Friday came along my body was on complete shut down mode. There was no more fighting it. Friday was a blur to me. I gave in and slept the whole day, before I knew it Saturday was here.
Saturday evening marked the date of Dance 2xs's Urbanite hip hop showcase. Twice a year Dance 2xs and Project Element hosts Urbanite, where multiple crews in the Chicago area come together and perform for each other at the Canopy Club down in Urbana, IL. Vicious made a lovely appearance. It is hard to explain how great if feels to be onstage with this group. We are all so passionate and strong artists that when we come together it is captivating. The weekend went by successfully. I always love being around such diverse groups of dancers and embracing that supportive atmosphere that Urbanite gives.
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upper left: Kris and I before final call time. lower left: the three of us getting ready for show. above: Dome and I before dress rehearsal
Having yet another moment onstage continues to remind me that that is what I am made for. When I am performing, it is almost like I go into this alternate world or alternate self. What I personally go through internally minutes before heading to the stage is never fear, anxiousness, or nerves. Instead it's a calm confidence in knowing that I am about to make at least one person in that audience feel something. To share my energy with another and getting a reaction is where I thrive to be. Vicious once again gave me that opportunity this weekend. After performing, it was overwhelming and humbling the amount of positive feedback people gave.
I will admit, I absolutely adore hearing what others have to say about a performance I was a part of. To me, knowing how they felt, what affected them and/or took them there is everything. Several times, when speaking to people about Urbanite, I came to the realization that I was completely in my alternate reality. Fellow performers and audience members were raving about a single moment I personally gave face, movement, or quirk that I couldn't even recall doing. I was so wrapped into the character my music gave. All in all, despite my being sick, I had a blast getting on the stage again. This was another step in my road towards sharing who I am to a bigger mass of people. I am humbled and honored to be doing what I love and have opportunities to share that. It only motivates me further to want to work harder, give more, and develop my craft further. I genuinely feel that if I continue on this path, that my ability to affect people through multiple facets of performing can only get bigger and better. Good weekend. Great feelings. Back to the rabbit hole to grow further. Always moving, always changing, always gaining, never stopping.
BELOW- a video of tech rehearsal of set vicious performed. we aren't in costume or dancing full out. :/
Vicious with Marty Kudelka after class.
"Love ever gives. Forgives outlives. And ever stands with open hands. And while it lives, it gives. For this is love's prerogative-- to give and give and give" John Oxenham
I was questioned recently by a Starbuck's employee when I wanted to pay for the man behind me in line's drink. His face was priceless, but I insisted and said it was just something I felt like doing. Encouraging him to do the same for the lady behind him, I smiled and walked away. Later that morning, after two hours or so had passed, I hear a man in line say he was going to pay for someone's drink. I slightly chuckled to myself feeling grateful that there are more genuinely giving people than I thought. Today I was excited to use a new Starbucks gift card and ordered a frou-frou, six million custom-option drink. Immediately I saw the worry on the employee's face as he attempted to read back the drink my mind had concocted. I felt bad, and looked up at the very tall businessman standing behind me. If you could picture a mix between Jack Skellington and Kobe Bryant, that's who was behind me. You could sense his exhaustion of waiting and annoyance of a little eclectic ball of energy, me, being the only thing standing between him and his grande black coffee. I apologized with a soft smile and threw my innocent big blue eyes his way in hopes of calming him down. Nothing cracked him so I preceded to pay for his drink. Immediately his demeanor changed and insisted on paying for mine. Although buying a cup of coffee for someone is such a small gesture, it was an affirmation of the " what goes around comes around" theory. These two moments really got me reflecting on finding the fulfillment I get in living happily through each moment of my day.
can you sort of see what was behind me in line?
As human beings we are flawed, we makes mistakes, and are each given the innate gift of free will. Sometimes I think people take major advantage of that gift to selfishly make themselves the center of their world. I experience people everyday complaining about what they do not have, gossiping about those who "have it all," and superfluously giving excuses as to why it is okay to make selfish choices. What I don't detect regularly is genuine hearts willing to assist others just because. Too often people will lend a hand only if they will get recognition for it or there is something of value in it for them. Please understand, I am in no way trying to put myself on a high horse by any means. I am just as guilty of being that person I described above from time to time. I do, however reflect and reevaluate myself regularly. This is a side of me that needs more attention paid to during these stages on my road to success. Too many people seclude themselves and throw away relationships with others in the attempt for triumphs. To me, creating authentic connections with those around me regardless how ever small or large parts of my life they are in is just as important to success.
This week has been a wonderful opportunity to get back to that part of myself. The dance studio I regularly teach at in Michigan was on spring break and I was able to stay in Chicago through the week. Aside from the many hours of rehearsals I had, I was able to spend some quality time with old and new friends as well as family. This week was filled with realizations of how grateful I am to have some close individuals with such genuine hearts in my life. From offering a place to stay the night, to accompanying me to a re-release of a favorite movie, to going on an adventure through the world of Target, to making me a cup of tea as I got sick, to rearranging their schedule to accommodate a ride for me and laughing with me as I explore my unique self, these people are nothing short of a blessing to me. Not only that, but the people I have found to be present in my life currently are such a positive motivation. I know that goal setting is important and staying on track towards your aspirations is imperative, but in the past three of four weeks something bigger has been clicking that cannot be disregarded. I am happy. Happy in the purest sense. More than ever in my life, I am in complete infatuation of the here and now. Cue dorky clips of people that make me smile:
the ever adventurous titanic 3D experience
the lucky two that got to birth me! ;)
lovely ladies I dance with
roasting marshmallows with a sleepy grandma- MERR!
Yes, I have always been carefree, spontaneous, and living in the moment. So often though, I would self inflict consequences of worries, walls, what-ifs that blocked me from being completely happy all of the time. Recently, the passion in embracing literally every minute that comes my way has grown ten-fold. It's a feeling that is almost unexplainable. I am in complete certainty that my place career-wise is in continuing all the facets that branch off my dancing and acting skills. There is not a second I doubt my place in the entertainment world. And I know in the exact times necessary I will make major strides in both. Looking at the bigger picture though, I am a giver. One of my main purposes of life is to give love, in all of its layers of definition. I was reminded of that this week while conversing with my mom about the likeness between my grandmother and me. We are both compelled and committed to giving ourselves whole heartedly to those we care about and those that need us most. No questions asked. With that said, I realize that there are people and places that need my art and/or love right now. Not being able to audition on March 30 was no coincidence. Instead it was a reminder that there are things I need to accomplish before I dive into what Second City has to offer me in my life journey. Reflecting recently has helped me decide that attaining my career goals as well as affecting and having relationships with the people I encounter are equally significant in my happiness.
" When I was five years old, my mother always told me that the key to life was happiness. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy.' They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life." -John Lennon
At the end of the day, sealing that sort of fulfillment and happiness is all it boils down to. Regarding my career, I am confident enough to know that I am going places, but still humble enough to know that my relationships should never dwindle because of it. My true happiness will come in sharing my journey with those who long to stand by my side throughout it all. Aside from subgoals, something I aspire to before taking the next artistic leap is having those concrete individuals consistently present in my life. I firmly believe you will be brought to the people that you need in your life. You just have to stay aware because some people you are meant to have in your life you meet by such chance, that it almost seems uncanny. So I challenge you readers, to take the time to develop new relationships, with whomever it may be that was brought into your life today. Strike up a conversation with someone new whether it is the anxious person behind you in line at a coffee shop, someone you hold the door for because they are carrying several bags, or someone who lets you sit next to them while traveling on a crowded train. You never know what they could bring to your life or what you could bring to theirs.
Contrary to the habit of me writing novels each week, today's post will be somewhat shorter and more or less of an update of where things stand. Month one is done and I feel like it has flown by. A lot of choices have come and gone and I am looking anxiously to month number two. My ability to immediately record my thoughts and experiences was a fail this week. I found myself getting caught up in the busyness of my schedule and hardly having a moment to sit and reflect. Be that as it may, my post today might lack the personality it usually exudes.
As far as this past Friday's auditions are concerned, I did not get to audition. I am not bummed by any means. I sort of had an intuition that June was going to be when things got started up for me. This is still a major part of my end goal, I am just on the path where we have to frequently yield for cross traffic. Since I have never been the type to plan things out, coming up with my revised game plan was a little difficult at first. From here on out, I am in Chicago weekly. Second City offers drop-in improv classes on both Saturday and Sundays. Pending my rehearsal schedules for dance projects, I will pop in over there as often as possible. In addition to their drop-in classes, I am going to enroll in one of their writing courses. I think this would be extremely beneficial in developing my voice in satirical sketch comedy. For the improv and writing side of me, that is what I am looking at until the next conservatory auditions in June.
Where my dancing is concerned, things are beginning to fill up the majority of my time. Carnival, a choreographer's showcase that is originated in Los Angeles, has recently started up in Chicago. This coming May will be Carnival's third Chicago Ball. Two of the choreographer's that were chosen to put together sets for the show asked if I would perform with them. The rehearsals for both sets have been underway for two weeks now. The two sets are completely different from one another which makes going from one rehearsal to the next challenging. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! On one end, Dome Larusso's set is a concept-driven piece, while Daz has very stylized movement to his. I am quite enthralled by how much versatility it demands in my execution of their choreography. Being a part of the Chicago dance scene once again has felt quite home. Not to mention the whipping into shape I am getting from all of this dancing is much more enjoyable than sitting for hours on the elliptical!
On top of Carnival, I have reconnected with a group of dancers that I used to perform with called, Vicious. Vicious is based in Chicago and performs locally. Led by Dome Larusso and Kris Rhodes, Vicious is known for their unique movement and enticing performance quality. Since I lived in Los Angeles, I haven't been able to perform with them for a while. Being back with the Vicious family gives me such a fulfilling feeling. We have all come from such different backgrounds and yet we all share the same tenacious and passionate lifestyles. It is so apparent when you see us together dancing and it draws you in fast. As of now, Vicious will be seen at this up and coming Urbanite and Prelude hip hop showcases, as well as have several bigger performances lined up for early summer.
As you can see, my schedule is definitely starting to fill up. I am still in need of returning to Los Angeles to get my car, belongings, and such. I have a list that is hovering over my head of what still needs to be finalized as far as my living situation goes. One of my goals by the end of March was to have all of that figured out. FAIL! This week, I have to commit the majority of my time to making necessary choices toward settling somewhere. Gosh, does that mean I have to actually make decisions about things?!? I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..