I remember the first rehearsal. I felt really self-conscious and kept hoping I was doing a good job, and was very eager to take direction. I wanted to be a “good” subject/object. I remember that my props were my notebook, my iPhone and and my wallet. And I reenacted waking up and checking my phone and then lying in bed and then feeling like I wanted to die rather than start a day of uncertain work situations. At that time I was only working 15 hours a week at one job, and then teaching one day a week at Parsons.
I remember my anxiety of not knowing how I would keep myself afloat once my teaching job ended. Time expands and contracts according to how many things I program for myself. The 15 hours that I wasn’t work seemed like it was never enough time to sit with myself and listen to what I actually wanted. I was afraid of New York. I was afraid of just being another unemployed or under-employed artist. I was no expert in anything freelance-able. I thought I better go back to school and extract myself from this wretched economy. Or that I should pull myself together, grow up and get a real job and that merging creative with a lucrative, steady job situation would be impossible.
I think this project helped me shift my thinking to that of conceptualizing myself as highly employable as me, as an artist, as a creative person, and that I didn’t have to try to stuff myself into another persona in order to achieve employment. Once I started having this space to play with the physicality of being myself and fully in myself, then it also altered my psychological state of self-acceptance and confidence in the entirety of me as being integral and thus employable – if the right context were to be found.
I think I was getting in my own way by not acknowledging the skills I possessed. Being isolated and not as much connected to my peers, it was easier to judge myself harshly as not being an expert in something, but instead just being a hack at many things.
I think the reason why I have two great jobs right now is that I actually asked for them. I had to pursue, insist, and create them and then not be afraid to take them on. This process of pursuing what I wanted (and these were both scary, uncertain and overwhelming jobs) was greatly enhanced by the experience of having occupied a completely new, physical space of movement, gesture and dance. The project opened up for me the idea that what is most important is how you conceive of yourself, how much of your physical, emotional and intellectual self you offer forth, And although there is more risk and feeling of vulnerability that you will be a “bad” dancer or a bad “artist,” the open, improvisational space that was created in the studio allowed for us to experiment, try on and practice both uncertain and confident personas. And this allowed me to be more conscious and ultimately to choose to be more confident.
And being employed as strictly “an artist” helped me in the most basic, fundamental way to conceive of myself as an artist at work, and that my job was to be objective, reflective and flexible – skills that all artists much have.
The mere act of being hired as an artist was a defining and without exaggeration, life-altering gesture in my professional development.