Work v life. Teaching v performing. Mind v body. Control v spontaneity. And all the beauty of the balancing act in between…
I find myself thinking a great deal about balance. In my teaching role I talk a lot about momentum, flow and not being afraid to be off balance. And yet in myself I know that I can be a bit of a chicken really.
A close friend wants to teach me Parkour. I know this will be right at the limit of my comfort zone and I know that if I don’t go there, with this or in other ways, I will never be the dancer I want to be. I spent most of my training years being so afraid of not being good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, fast enough, that my energy was wasted and I wasn’t as good as I could have been. Painfully ironic. Now is the time. To push myself, and to try and- if necessary- to fail. I’ve never been so comfortable in my own skin as I am today. I noticed when recording some video in the studio that often my improvisation work is better than the movement I’ve set. Is this because I’m off balance? I think it is.
Another thought about balance. I tend to be of the belief that work comes first (apart from times of crisis or once in a lifetime events). This isn’t something I’ve thought much about, it’s more of a thought that I have interjected. However, after 6 months of slog, fitting studying and creative practice around a salaried job which entailed fitting a full time job into part time hours, and thinking 24-7 about work. After countless nights losing sleep over my students and their woes, budgets, low participant numbers and where best to hold events. After all this I have been experiencing a kind of low-grade burn out. It started with exhaustion and then frustration set in. I had the feeling if I couldn’t change the world over night, all alone, then why bother? I’d stopped seeing my smaller achievements. This led to apathy. I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to check out. This week I suddenly had a whole new experience. I went to teach on Friday and found myself in an incredibly good mood. I enjoyed teaching more than I have in ages and I remembered why I do this job. I came home buzzing. I put this down to two factors.
1. The night before I had begun choreographing for a professional artistic project. I then taught some of the rep to my students. So I was artistically fulfilled and teaching from that place in myself AND the content of what I was teaching was artistically satisfying to me. In other words I had something to share that was worth sharing.
2. A big change has occurred in my personal life. I spent the day (well the week actually) distracted by thoughts of someone special, thoughts that I would usually consider a frivolous waste of time! However the joy of it all seeped out into my working life and gave me a bundle of energy.
So it made me think about balance. I often make the mistake of thinking about the work I do for money and the work I do for myself as being in conflict, but actually my artistic work MUST be allowed to feed my community work, otherwise both will dry up. Also if my mind is always on the management side, and my body not allowed to engage in the process, how will I motivate myself to sit at that desk and write reports, applications, plans and emails? Furthermore the old slogan about work and play has more weight than I have ever appreciated. In my isolation it’s all too easy to plough into work and leave my other needs behind. Yet here I was, apparently ‘distracted’ and yet doing some of the best work I’ve done in weeks. Perhaps allowing myself to fall... Off balance, is just what I need to continue walking this tight rope and get where I’m going? If I can be brave enough, then I’ve got everything to gain. And since I’m pretty happy right where I am, perhaps I have nothing to lose?