Thursday, January 23, 2014

15 Truths About Being A Professional Dancer

December 2, 2013 by Aly Cardinalli
written by Melanie Doskocil, original post found at her blog, Ballet Pages
1. Dance is hard. – No dancer ever became successful riding on their natural born talents only. Dancers are artists and athletes. The world of dance today is akin to an extreme sport. Natural ability and talent will only get us so far. Dancers must work hard and persevere. Dancers give years of their lives plus their sweat, tears and sometimes blood to have the honor and pleasure of performing on stage.
2. You won’t always get what you want. – We don’t always get the role we wanted, go on pointe when we want, get the job we want, hear the compliments we want, make the money we want, see companies run the way we want, etc., etc.  This teaches us humility and respect for the process, the art form and the masters we have chosen to teach us. The faster we accept this, the faster we can get on with being brilliant.  We’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but we can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.
3. There’s a lot you don’t know. – There is always more a dancer can learn. Even our least favorite teachers, choreographers and directors can teach us something. The minute we think we know it all, we stop being a valuable asset.
4. There may not be a tomorrow. – A dancer never knows when their dance career will suddenly vanish: a company folds, career ending injury, car accident, death…Dance every day as if it is the final performance. Don’t save the joy of dance for the stage. Infuse even your routine classroom exercises with passion!
5. There’s a lot you can’t control. – You can’t control who hires you, who fires you, who likes your work, who doesn’t, the politics of being in a company. Don’t waste your talent and energy worrying about things you can’t control. Focus on honing your craft, being the best dancer you can be. Keep an open mind and a positive attitude.
6. Information is not true knowledge. – Knowledge comes from experience.  You can discuss a task a hundred times, go to 1000 classes, but unless we get out there and perform we will only have a philosophical understanding of dance. Find opportunities to get on stage.  You must experience performance firsthand to call yourself a professional dancer.
7. If you want to be successful, prove you are valuable. – The fastest way out of a job is to prove to your employer they don’t need you. Instead, be indispensable. Show up early, know your material, be prepared, keep your opinions to yourself unless they are solicited and above all be willing to work hard.
8. Someone else will always have more than you/be better than you.  – Whether it’s jobs or money or roles or trophies, it does not matter. Rather than get caught up in the drama about what others are doing around you, focus on the things you are good at, the things you need to work on and the things that make you happiest as a dancer.
9. You can’t change the past. – Everyone has a past. Everyone has made mistakes, and everyone has glorious moments they want to savor. “Would you keep a chive in your tooth just because you enjoyed last night’s potato?” Boston Common TV Series. Dance is an art form that forces us to concentrate on the present. To be a master at dance we have be in the moment; the minute the mind wanders, injuries happen. If they do, see #12.
10. The only person who can make you happy is you. – Dancing in and of itself cannot make us happy.  The root of our happiness comes from our relationship with ourselves, not from how much money we make, what part we were given, what company we dance for, or  how many competitions we won.  Sure these things can have effects on our mood, but in the long run it’s who we are on the inside that makes us happy.
11. There will always be people who don’t like you. – Dancers are on public display when they perform and especially in this internet world, critics abound. You can’t be everything to everyone.  No matter what you do, there will always be someone who thinks differently.  So concentrate on doing what you know in your heart is right.  What others think and say about you isn’t all that important.  What is important is how you feel about yourself.
12.Sometimes you will fail. – Sometimes, despite our best efforts, following the best advice, being in the right place at the right time, we still fail. Failure is a part of life. Failure can be the catalyst to some of our greatest growth and learning experiences. If we never failed, we would never value our successes. Be willing to fail. When it happens to you (because it will happen to you), embrace the lesson that comes with the failure.
13. Sometimes you will have to work for free. – Every professional dancer has at one time or another had to work without pay. If you are asked to work for free, be sure that you are really ok with it. There are many good reasons to work for free, and there are just as many reasons not to work for free. Ask yourself if the cause is worthy, if the experience is worth it, if it will bring you joy. Go into the situation fully aware of the financial agreement and don’t expect a hand out later.
14. Repetition is good. Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is insane. – If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  If you keep doing the bare minimum of required classes, don’t complain to your teacher when you don’t move up to the next level. If you only give the bare minimum in your company, be happy staying in the corps. If you want to grow beyond your comfort zone, you must push yourself beyond your self-imposed limitations.
Photo by Peter Perazio. Taken when Sylvie Guillem was promoted to Paris Opera Ballet étoile status and is inspired by Béjart’s choreography “la Luna”. It has appeared in a cut version on the cover of the popular general audience French magazine, ‘Le Nouvel Observateur.’
15. You will never feel 100% ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Dancers have to be willing to take risks. From letting go of the ballet barre to balance, to moving around the world to dance with a new company, from trusting a new partner to trying a new form of dance, dancers must have a flexible mind and attitude as well as body. The greatest opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means you won’t feel totally comfortable or ready for it.

...Something Good.

Tell me something good....

Tell me without words or sound....

Choreograph love....

by Cuauhtemoc Mitote, MFA

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dancing our Dreams into Reality

When I understood the difference between Dreams and Fantasy, I could dance again.
It was understanding the difference between Mitote/PowWow and Fun/Clubbing/Ratchet life.
Both exist in the world of art, wonder, and mystical confusion of infinite possibility, but they are sourced from different springs of our soul.
Let us engage in work.
Let us engage in dance.
Let us pray.
Let us love.
Let us engage in celebration.
Let us engage in fantasy.
Let us create and inspire new possibilities for our lives—Let us be Art.
Life is so diverse, varied, and mysterious; it is hard not to get lost in all the different mode and facets of its endless flow of magic.

Fantasies are pure enjoyment and play. Dreams can be dance into reality, they are reality. 

by Cuauhtemoc Mitote, MFA

On Richard Sherman & White America

"The interesting thing about this issue is that it exists at all. The mere discussion of Richard Sherman's actions yesterday betrays how unacceptable black passion continues to be in the white consciousness. This man is under the microscope, not for spewing vulgarity or striking another player, but for being "too black" on national television. By far the scariest part about this fact is that middle-class, educated black people, out of fear of white retribution, denounce Rich's actions as ignorant and not representative of Stanford students. It is the terrifying fear of white skin and white power that has been imprinted so deliberately into the cultural heritage of African-Americans, a paternalism branded so deeply that even the most "liberated", ivy league black gentlemen shudder in fear when another successful, black man violates the master's code of conduct.

The honor-shame dialectic that plagues our post-slave community causes us to grovel and scratch for white appreciation, white assimilation and white acceptance. For it is ONLY when White America approves of our black behavior that we can hope to elude the titles of "ignorant" and "uncivilized". To simply appear educated, well-mannered and humble is akin to "acting white". To be aggressive, passionate, arrogant and loud is to be un-white, uncouth and subhuman. It is the way of that slave who is bereft of all hope to seek the approval of his master in such an assimilative way.

Civilized men are supposed to wear business suits, speak in perfect, low-tone english, have short hair and give milquetoast interviews. Civilized men fit in to this European standard without complaint or dissent. Civilized men don't cause trouble for the other slaves on the plantation. The good slave watches his master and imitates his godly essence. He feels shame whenever his own status has been afflicted by the disobedient behavior of other, uppity slaves. But as Malcolm rightly acknowledged, "What do you call an educated black man with a BA, MA or PhD? You call him a 'nigger', cause that's what the white man calls him." Certainly, you are free to call Rich whatever you want for what he did last night, but one thing I can certainly say, is that he had no fear of white retribution. For he realizes, as I do, that no matter what level of success you manage to reach in American society, no matter how correct one tries to speak or dress, your dark skin will remain the laughing stock, and dividing rod, of the white world.

For those of you in the educated, black community who believe that behavioral and cultural assimilation to European standards is somehow THE solution to our race problems, I truly hope your Antebellum worldview does not collide with the gnawing of your conscience one day, and compel you to hang yourself on your own noose.

Happy "Educated, Fearless, Free Black Man" Day."

By Grant Newsome

Friday, January 10, 2014

Healthy Food Environment for Focus & Support of Food Goals!

Steps for Creating a Healthy Food Environment
by Gina Schlocker, RD, IHC Staff Wellness Coordinator 1/6/2014

One of the most important ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle is to create an environment that supports healthy living.  This is true for our physical, mental and social well being.
Although some aspects of our environment can feel at times out of our control, one aspect, our food choices, is within our power. This includes at home, work, school and with our family, friends, and co-workers.
The following steps will help you get started on the road to a healthier lifestyle by surrounding yourself with a healthy food environment.

Toss the Junk
                Go through your refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets and throw out the junk foods. Chips, cookies, ice cream, regular sodas, candies and any other processed foods you know aren’t good for you and your family.  Throwing away these foods is not wasting since these are harming your health and are not real food anyway. 
Take Time to Meal Plan
                When you plan ahead, you are in control, you are more likely to stick to your healthy eating and avoid instant gratification junk foods.  Use whole foods as ingredients in your meals and snacks and make extra so you can take homemade foods for lunch during workdays. Limit eating restaurant foods to once a month.
Make a List
 Make a list of foods you need for your meals before going to the grocery store.  If you are mindful of the barrage of marketing tactics you face during your trip through the market aisles, you can outsmart the temptations and stick to purchasing the foods only on your healthy food list. And make sure not to shop when you are hungry.
Turn it Off
Turn off the TV, smart phone notifications, silence your phones, and turn off work computers.  Eat at the table with your family. At work, avoid eating at your desk.  If it’s a nice day, go outside to the park with friends.
Keep it Simply
                The more simple and basic your food choices, the easier it will be to control.  Choose with your family basic meals that incorporate healthy whole foods that everyone can enjoy and are easy to prepare.
Social Events
                Pressure from family, friends and co-workers can sabotage your efforts to follow a healthy lifestyle.  Be aware if your social events are always surrounding by unhealthy foods or always going out to eat. Plan events that do not center around unhealthy foods.  Real support comes from people who will always respect you and will not constantly tempt you to eat out or eat junk foods.
Get Support
                If you need a jump start on healthy food planning, healthy food choices or ways to purge your home of processed foods, contact an IHC Registered Dietitian to help start your new healthy life!

Medical  •  Dental  •  WIC/Nutrition  •  Counseling  ·  Community Wellness & Outreach
Phone (408) 445-3400     Fax (408) 448-1041

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


you disrespect me
with inconsiderate acts
yet love is patient

suffering cessation grows
our bond tight and fun
with eyes of passion

I'm not perfect but
I'm perfect for you 
choice is forever, I choose you.

I wrote this poem as a reflection of what I feel with my current loving relationship. The man with which I am currently involved, is very curious to me. I love him dearly, and as does he me, but how our actions of friendship-love-affection-relationship comes into expression and exploration almost never matched traditional roles of "boyfriends". 

{Well, then again, we don't call each other boyfriends--but we act like them, we think like them, and we work like them. I suppose, the label does not make sense yet BECAUSE we are not like others--and in that case, such a label will never work.} 

But whether we are boyfriends or not, the love and the relationship is true, even without society's normalized indicators. "How can you tell if your in a relationship, if you don't act like everyone else" is like asking "how can you tell if you are human, if you are black, and were brought up in an all white region of the world". The answer is, its difficult, because the truth is buried deep inside you--and in a relationship, its deep inside each partner; and more so, it is a choice. 

I was talking to a queer elder the other day, and we talked about my current relationship and his. For hours we talked about sex, love, relationships, sex with others, close relationships, psychology, society, marriage, and humanity. What he told me really made sense, which is:

"There is no such thing as the perfect partner, boyfriend, or husband--that is a myth--there are people, and there are people you are attracted to, in some way or another, with no real reason for it, you just like them or something about them--its human. No one man can satisfy everything you need, only you can do that for yourself. You choose to be in a relationship, That's it. Also, you have the choice to end it at anytime--even if you are married, even if even if--you always have a choice. It is that choice, to be together, between 2 people, that makes the relationship, noting more."

I think his words humanized the idea and praxis relationship, and de-romanticized it for me. It vanished from "being a pimp and having a lot of sex with all the twinks in the world" and destroyed "my prince in shinny armor, my princess that I will love forever, because we are meant to be married and live happily ever after"--his words exploded my paradigm which needed to crumble at the trust wisdom of a friend. And so, I wrote this poem. 

Every relationship has it's bad aspect, and each have their good. Perfection is fleeting, but friendship and compassion is eternal. 

I am happily in many loving relationships, most friendships, some artistic, some professional, some intellectual, some familiar, and one romantic--but these people I share a relationship with are all individuals, perfectly themselves, and I am accepting of this. 

Choice is forever.... Choice is forever... 

Te quiero mucho 


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cunningham Dancer

Some little girls grow up, and dream of becoming a Prima Ballerina. Often, in their minds, this is a mystical creature-adult, an almost impossible feat to enact and become, but a goal nonetheless. Some boys wish to become a Star Quarterbacks. Here, this is the same deal, a quarterback is a conglomeration of a rarity of skill, talent, and ability—yet the character, the role, the person, the idea is still a goal. These “personhood/career” goals are interesting to me, because they serve an individual with a source of motivation, and focus for work.

For me, my “Prima Ballerina” is a Cunningham Dancer. Not Merce himself, no, but “a Cunningham Dancer”—to me that is someone of great focus, skill, commitment (to Merce’s intense processes, and then some…), clarity, unadornment, intellectualism, athleticism, eloquence and focus. A Cunningham Dancer is generous with his or her soul, and is open and committed to line, curve, clarity, and he or she is absent of distraction—because, they are distraction, they are art, a prime artifact of human expression and potential.

Sometimes I think of all the great Cunningham dancers, and in my mind, I put them together to create a sort-of mythic being of “Cunningham Dancer”—a role for me to aspire to, for motivation and focus. I like to think of myself as a dancer in pursuit of being a Cunningham Dancer. Though I know the company is disbanded, and technically it is impossible to be such a dancer, I still think it is possible in my heart and practice. And, that is good.

With love,


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bien Glitter Betch

They had thought I liked to party.
Because they met me at the bar.
An After Party of a show, or performance, concert, or mitote.....
They assumed, there, was where the party was...
They arrived late.
Before my arrival, there was no party.
Before my arrival, it was just a bar.
So they partied with me, and we played in the moonlight.
Stardust a plenty, and I remained sober.
They assumed I was a party boy.
They assumed I needed that stardust to survive.
My glitter is what they ate that night.
The stardust was there because of me.
I taught them glitter.
So where do I belong? Where am I from?
An Ivory tower. Solitude. Vision, Creativity, Imagination. A studio & study. A Laboratory.
My home is not the bar--my home is an empty space.
What you tasted was the afterglow and afterbirth of my dance.
The uranium from the reservation of my mind.
You still glow my friend.
Radioactive glitter is hard to extinguish.


At 4:30 a.m. you rise move in the arms and legs that trapped you. You sighed affirming the sculptured man and make yourself a bath of dark musk oil Egyptian crystals and Florida water to remove his smell to wash away the glitter to watch the butterflies melt into suds. And the rhinestones fall beneath her buttocks like smooth pebbles in a Missouri creek lay in water. You become yourself, ordinary brown braided woman with big legs and full lips regular. And the ones who fall prey to the dazzle of hips painted with orange blossoms and magnolia scented wrists had wanted no more than to lay between her sparklin thighs. And had planned on leavin before dawn. And you had been so divine devastatingly bizarre the way your mouth fit round. And now you stand a regular colored girl fulla the same malice livid indifference as a sistah worn from supportin a would-be horn player. But then you gather your tinsel and jewels from the tub. And laugh gayly or vengeful you stored your silk roses by your bed. And when you finished writin the account of her exploit in a diary embroidered with lilies and moonstones. You place the rose behind your ear and cried yourself to sleep.