I’m Back and Ready to MOVE!

Hi everyone!

WOW, the American Dance Festival was a WHIRLWIND! I cannot fully express in words how busy I was, and how saturated I am right now with everything I was exposed to. ADF was one of the very best decisions I ever made, and I can’t believe all of the connections I made, experiences I had, and dances I danced.

There were too many great moments to pick a favorite! But let me just say the community ADF creates cannot be found anywhere else. Everyone is free to be 100% themselves, everyone is encouraging, and everyone is there to connect with each other through dance. Durham, North Carolina is the perfect city for the festival to be located in too. This is because Durham is filled with so many artists, dancers, and musicians, and everyone is so open to collaborating to make something beautiful.

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Photography by: Tim Lytvinenko

Some of my favorite performances I watched included the ADF Alumni concert, Rosie Herrara Dance Theater, Kyle Abraham A.I.M., and Michelle Dorrance’s tap solo in the Wondrous Women Concert. In addition to dancing full time, I was working in the Performances office of the festival assisting the staff with picking up and taking care of visiting dance company needs! I met so many amazing performers and choreographers, and even was invited to some exclusive invite-only events by some of the choreographers (I can’t share information on these things now, but in the fall when they happen I will be able to post about them! So exciting!).

While I was there, I also collaborated with a Raleigh-based artist named Tim Lytvinenko. He needed a model for a project series he is working on (his work is in the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh BY THE WAY), and I needed dance photos. So we exchanged photo shoots which was super fun! He is going to turn one of the photos he made of me into a piece of art which can hopefully be in his museum installation one day. Here is one of his favorites.

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Photography by: Tim Lytvinenko

Side note: This photo reminds me a lot of the movie DVD cover of Across the Universe. Do you all know that movie? It is a movie musical telling a story through the songs of the Beatles. It’s amazing, and if you haven’t seen it, after you’re done reading please go watch it.

Anyway, I was able to perform in student choreography concerts, visit the Nasher Museum of Art, watch dance films, take masterclasses, and push my body to new limits. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been fortunate because this week the company I dance for is performing in a summer arts festival in New York, and we have been rehearsing and creating all week 🙂 It is nice to keep moving and not be stuck home sedentary after 6 weeks of nonstop movement at ADF. I have some auditions and fun adventures in NYC coming up next week and in August too! There is no time rest it seems, but I don’t mind pushing my body this much if it means I can dance!

There is so much going on, and all of it is amazing! I can’t wait to share more with you!

Thank you for reading – it’s so nice to be back!

Xoxo

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Halfway Through ADF – I’m SO Inspired!

Hello everyone!

I am officially three weeks into the American Dance Festival, and I am SO grateful to be here! I am having the time of my life! This experience is helping me find myself, work through obstacles I have not been dealing with effectively, and is bettering my technique. All of this is happening while I am training, growing stronger mentally and physically, and being inspired left and right!

I’ve met some amazing people/dancers, and this environment is incredibly supportive, safe, and creative. I love how immersed I am in dance and art, and I cannot express enough how truly thankful I am for the opportunity to be here this summer.

I wanted to share with you all some photos I took within the last three weeks! It is amazing how quickly time is passing, and I really want it to slow down! The first week I was here, I was able to take some fun photos at the Duke University Chapel!

Today, I went to the Nasher Museum of Art of Duke’s West Campus for their presentation of “Movies by Movers“, which is a series of dance films they present throughout the weekends of the summer intensive. Today was the first day, and the films I viewed were stunning. I left the museum theater feeling introspective and thoughtful.

You can view the list of  “Movies by Movers” at this link: ADF Dance Film Festival Line Up

At the Nasher, I visited their gift shop and found some beautiful post cards with prints of artwork featured in the museum on them! I am in love with the one on the top left of my picture (your left!). It is called “Places to Love For”, and I was immediately drawn to it. She looks like a dancer, but even if the woman depicted is not, I feel like the painting has a lot of movement to it, even though she is portrayed standing still. I wish the museum sold a full-size replica print or poster because I would have bought one for my room! Instead, I bought four different post cards that I am going to frame and hang on my bedroom walls when I go home!

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I am also collaborating with a visual artist while I am down here! He is based out of Raleigh, NC and I am modeling for him for a project he is working on, and in exchange, he photographed some headshots and dance photos for free for me to use for auditions and dance projects when I am back home in NJ/NY. I CANNOT wait for those photos to be released so I can share them with you all! They came out so great, and we worked for a while on them! We have another photo shoot scheduled for his projects too, which will be super awesome to see the final result when he is done manipulating the images.

Living down here on my own and navigating this festival is changing my life, and I have a feeling when I return home I will be a better version of myself.  Dance has ALWAYS been the one constant in my life, and the American Dance Festival is confirming my belief that dance is my path to journey down in this lifetime. I am forever grateful for this art form and the community surrounding it.

I will update you all soon! I can’t wait to share my other adventures and projects with you all!

xoxo

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Is Being a “Professional Dancer” an Achieved Status or a Mindset?

Hello everybody!

Today I want to address something important. This is especially important for all of my fellow dancers who are just coming out of a college dance program, or those who are only one or two years removed from undergrad.

See, in undergraduate dance programs, the professors and dance directors warn students that finding professional work is hard (Most do, but if not, than THEY SHOULD). They say the performer life is hard because a lot of professional dance company work (especially in NYC) is unpaid, or a stipend is the only compensation for MONTHS of time and energy put into rehearsals. They warn students they will hear more “No’s” then “Yes’s”. They even warn students that most of the time, they will be paid more to teach dance than to perform dance.

When young dance graduates find a company or dance project to work with, how do they handle putting in a ton of effort for little or sometimes no pay? Does little or lack of pay make what they’re doing any less “professional”? If the company someone dances for doesn’t offer benefits or a steady income, is she not as “professional” as someone who dances for a company that does provide those benefits and income?

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I’ve discovered a lot in this past year removed from undergraduate school. What I’ve discovered is all of what my dance director and professors warned me about is true. I’ve discovered I will see the same 60 people at every small contemporary/modern dance company audition because we all want the same jobs. I discovered I will pay more money to commute in and out of NYC to audition for jobs and companies that are not even willing to pay me even if I was hired.

However, I also discovered that the small companies and dance projects I work on require just as much time and energy as projects within a “bigger” company would. If I am working on a contemporary dance piece for a private, small company that requires unpaid weekly company class/rehearsal, and weekend rehearsals/traveling/shows, what separates the professionalism of that situation from a company who does the same thing but has a more well-known name (ie: Paul Taylor Company, Alvin Ailey)?

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Is it because more well-known companies are established and have a historical legacy? Yes, that probably has something to do with it. And it makes sense to feel that way when people perform with a small dance company not many people have heard of. But, if I take myself and my work seriously, I will be viewed seriously. And if I am viewed seriously in my dance endeavors, why would I not be viewed as a professional? Even if I do not necessarily like the choreography I am dancing, if I keep my attitude towards it professional, I will act and be viewed as such.

The title “dancer” or “artist” in general is very unspecified. Just because someone doesn’t have a piece of their art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC doesn’t make them any less of an artist. If they are mentally and physically invested in what they are creating, they are a creator. They are an artist because they view themselves as one! Granted, if the opporunity arose to have art displayed in the MET or to dance with New York City Ballet for example, obviously those achievements are milestones in someone’s artistic career that should be celebrated. However, what I’m saying is not any one who makes artwork can call themselves an artist (although they did create something classified as artwork).

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A real artist or dancer (in my context) is someone who is investing most of their time and sometimes even most of their life to their craft. They are the people who are constantly in search of improvement and knowledge in their field, while simultaneously teaching others about their craft through sharing their craft with others and with their community. Their mindset is focused on consistently bettering their art.

Let me put it this way – the CEO of a Fortune 500 company doesn’t walk into work everyday thinking she or he cannot handle the day, and that their job responsibilities are outside of their skillset. No. The people who make it to CEO, CFO, principal dancer, company soloist, “professional”, etc. KNOW their worth and they KNOW their skillset. That is why they are in those positions. They believe they can handle whatever tasks are thrown their way because this is what their years of training, education, and experience has prepared them for. Even if someone is dancing for a small company and is not being paid as much as much as she would like to be or thinks she deserves to be, it is still an achievement and progress to have made it into a company after graduating a college dance program.

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In short, professionalism begins with the right mindset. The more someone believes they are a professional, the more they will begin to act like one. And once opportunities arise, even in small companies (or small art galleries!), the more it will reinforce the professional mindset. This mindset is what will bring someone to where they want to end up in their field (dance, art, business, whatever!).

Aim high, shoot higher. Don’t lose sight of who and where you want to be.

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I’m Back and Have a Lot of News!

Hello everyone!

I am very sorry for the lack of updating and posting. At the same time I left for my boyfriend’s OSUT graduation, my grandmother passed away suddenly. There has been a lot going on and between the trip, her passing, work, and doing things for me, I have not had a lot of time to fill you all in on how everything has been!

OSUT graduation was absolutely awesome! I was finally reunited with my boyfriend and I had never felt so happy or elated to be with someone! The distance seemed so minute when we finally hugged and kissed for the first time! I will have a longer post about that later.

I’ve also been scrapbooking a lot and trying to make myself a cool book full of interesting pictures and momentos from my trip to GA. For those of you who don’t know, I am pretty crafty and I love scrapbooking especially. Hot glue, washi tape, glittery stickers.. It is like crack for me! Ha! I will be posting later about what I use to scrapbook and how it helps me deal with the distance between my boyfriend and I.

Finally, my best friend took some 1940’s-era pinup pictures of me the other day, and I have created a gallery under my “Photo Gallery” tab for you guys to check it out! I also have an obsession with the 1940’s and 1950’s era, so these photos are reminiscent of those times! I hope you like them! You can check them out by clicking here, or clicking on the drop menu of the “Photo Gallery” tab!

I will be updating more soon! Happy August and have a lovely Sunday!!

– Julia