Prologue

21 Jun

Well folks, you know what this post means—I’ve safely arrived in New York City! Little known fact, but I was actually born in Kingston, a small town about two hours north of Manhattan, and this is the first time I’ve set foot in New York since my parents moved us when I was a baby. It’s strange because I really have no connection to the city and yet it doesn’t feel off to me—I’d go as far to say that there’s something that feels so wonderfully right about being back in the Eastern Standard Time zone. Maybe it’s the humidity or the positioning of the blazing sun (producing an appropriately muggy, scorching summer day as I knew in Ohio. My lizard body is feeling right at home.), but when my plane touched down at JFK, it’s as if a piece of my heart fell out of my chest and buried itself into the ground. Whether it remains there forever or is nurtured into something far more majestic remains to be seen!

Though I didn’t see any dance shows today, I had a more than eventful enough first experience in traversing this most magnificent city. It’s a rite of passage every dancer or balletomane must go through to have a first day in New York, and mine was filled with some less than glamorous moments. To begin with, dragging luggage around the city wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had (especially in the ninety-something degree weather and in the jeans I wore on the plane from Seattle), and I quickly learned that not every station has escalators or elevators—that is, after I even figured out how to navigate the subway system in the first place! My friendhost Catherine got me into the city no problem with incredibly detailed directions, but I was on my own for a little while until she could escape from work. Enter friend Jennifer who showed me around, helped me find a luggage storage service via this wondrous device called an Eye-Phone (which I assume is called as such because you look into it instead of talk into it?), and we did a little shopping, a little eating, and a little Broadway lottery ticket collecting…attempting (we didn’t do so great here). I really am so lucky and so grateful to have friends/readers like Cat and Jen to help me out because without them I would’ve been eaten alive and never seen again. Even little things like crowds and people in proximity took me some time to get used to—at Starbucks I turned my head away from my computer to sneeze into my arm and ended up sneezing right onto a guy who was standing there. Not classy, not cute.

Still, I’m just loving it. I’m loving the challenge of being overwhelmed, of having so many options that it raises philosophical questions about how if New York truly has everything (and it does) than what do its residents actually need? But I digress. What my arrival to New York has taught me—or rather forced upon me—is a giant slice of humble pie. I’m not going to lie; seeing such incredible diversity and knowing what talent already exists here, I found myself having some doubts as to whether anything I do could ever stand out or contribute anything meaningful in the grand scheme of things. However, the vibrancy of New York has also filled me with hope and a belief that if one has the skill, the talent, and the luck to make great success happen, why not in New York? I’m only marginally closer to understanding what significance my obsession with ballet holds, but more and more I’m beginning to understand why New York has to be a part of developing that knowledge. Especially, the chance to connect with readers here—I’ve had some encounters in Seattle but it’s a community that largely enjoys contemporary dance, and there simply isn’t a strong (or at least strong enough for me) culture of ballet to immerse myself into. It’s interesting because while the Dance Critics Association conference also takes place in New York this weekend, I find myself relieved that I didn’t want to participate. Maybe I’m not professional enough to ever be a “legitimate” critic in the way a publication would want, but I enjoy taking pride in the decisions I make and one of them was to connect with my audience. While the DCA tackles larger issues in dance in panels with experts and serious discussions, I really would rather hang out with you…or you…or you. Even if it ends up being a handful of readers that I meet over the course of this trip, engaging my audience makes me feel like a better writer because of it. Having met a couple already, I already feel the rewards of knowing some of my readers as people.

Though my schedule will be chaotic in the upcoming days, I do plan on taking a class at Steps on Broadway tomorrow morning, meeting yet another reader for an afternoon hangout, and then finally seeing The Dream and Firebird in the evening. It may seem odd that I’d choose to take class and even blog over my vacation (both things that look a lot like work), but in addition to simply sharing a hopefully interesting set of stories, it was important for me to remind myself that humans have to live for art. It doesn’t matter if I sling pizzas for minimum wage (which I do, if you didn’t know)—I don’t feel alive without ballet in my life. This is why I dedicated some of my meager life’s savings to this trip because nothing is more human than to be moved by a work of art, and once a person finds the art that does, whether it be one genre or a myriad, it isn’t just worth pursuing, it’s necessary to. If we don’t live for the things we’re passionate about, than what are we living for? I said this on Twitter but think it pertinent to change the pronoun because I think it should be a shared mantra amongst dancers, and especially those that have to struggle in New York with inconsistent work, second (or third!) jobs, and worse: “We work to survive but we dance to live.” In a city where it seems like it’s already all been said and done, I offer that quote as a little gift to spark something positive in the world. It’s not something I expect people who don’t take the idea of being an artist as a career seriously to understand. Hell, it even took me what, twenty-eight years to really come to terms? I can only hope that it inspires any change in thinking, even if only a smidgen.

Meanwhile, Jennifer is trying to convince me to go to the stage door tomorrow to see Marcelo(!) and Julie…but the mere thought is already giving me ulcers and anxiety. If I weren’t so exhausted from a red-eye flight and getting lost in New York, I’d probably have insomnia too. But I don’t, and am ready to say “good night,” for the real adventures begin tomorrow. Thank you again, for reading as always—I know I haven’t been writing frequently but New York is already providing a lot of fuel for thought.

Here goes nothing! Or as those of us born under the sign of Aries like to say, “here goes everything!” (that and “ready, fire, aim!”)

P.S. I still can’t believe this is all happening!

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10 Responses to “Prologue”

  1. avesraggiana June 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    I happen to think New York and New Yorkers are full of themselves. Lovely to visit but I could never live there. They actually buy the myth that they’re the centre of everything, and the only place that matters! Bitter much? Nah…just unimpressed by New York’ City’s neurotic self-absorption. I’ll fly in whenever I want to see the ballet, or I’ll wait for the ballet to come to me.

    I’m absolutely certain you’ll enjoy New York’s vibrancy and inimitable high energy. I just hope for your sanity, that you won’t be lured into staying. Enjoy yourself!

    • youdancefunny June 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

      Thank you! I hope for my sanity I’m not lured here for the wrong reasons either!

  2. j. san (@Fleegull) June 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    So glad that you are here in the legit center of the universe!

    • youdancefunny June 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

      You and me both!

  3. Imogen Dent June 22, 2012 at 12:38 am #

    I love “Ready, fire, aim!” But shouldn’t that be Sagittarius’ motto? Goodness knows it’s us Sags to a tee…

    • youdancefunny June 22, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

      Maybe it’s a fire sign thing!

  4. Brenda B. June 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    I loved reading this and am looking forward to your future posts. You probably have no idea how many of us are rooting for you (people you don’t even know but who enjoy your writing)! My daughter, Ashley, reported that you weren’t in open class today, so we surmised you were en route to NYC! We send all of our adoration and enthusiasm with you–not in a weird stalker way but as people who want to witness the joy of other dream chasers.

    • youdancefunny June 22, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

      Oh thank you for your lovely comment! It’s not weird at all, and I just feel incredibly lucky these past couple of days. I was in class this (Friday) morning, though I’m not gonna lie–I was a nervous wreck! Tell her to say hi if she’d like…I’m having a lot of fun just chatting with readers!

  5. jennifer June 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    Steve, you’re on your own now 🙂 best of luck, glad I could help you ease yourself into the city! It was a pleasure meeting you.

    • youdancefunny June 22, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

      Thank you, my NYC sherpa! Hope to see you in person again soon!

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