Sunday, July 17, 2011


Recently, I thought about how I mostly write in this blog to keep my audience up to date on my current projects. My original intent for creating a blog was not to brag about my success or how I think my life is awesome, but to give an inside glimpse into what life is really like when everything revolves around your art. I'm going to do my best to go back to that thought, at least for today's entry.

I've been inundated with fear lately: fear of the unknowns in my life.

For the last year, I have worked seven days a week a one job or another or both (or three), rehearsed five or six days a week, and had some sort of performance every three weeks or so. I'm beginning to realize that this extreme lifestyle is not sustainable.

When I decided to give up my 9-5 job to pursue my art and teaching careers, I fully believed that I would spend my first year sorting everything out. How would I make ends meet while the studio is still in it's infancy? How can I allow myself to sacrifice a lot of money for art? How can I remain unselfish and understand when my husband needs to take time out of his 9-5 job to pursue his acting career? I'm still sorting things out, and I'm starting to become concerned.

I don't want to work part-time at Starbucks indefinitely. I don't know when my performing/choreographing/directing career will be winding down, when I will have enough time to pursue a "real job" (aka a paying job). Believe it or not, but I do want to have a family. Depending on which way I decide to take my life, I'm afraid that I'll either kill my dance career or ruin my chances at ever earning enough money to live in a nice apartment.

I'm sure these are fears that everyone has, and they are fears to have been floating around in my brain for a few years now. I think all of this has bubbled to the surface lately because I am starting to make long-term, life-altering decisions. I'm scared and excited alternately every day. I am thankful for my opportunities and overwhelmed by them all the time.

I know that I should just relax and let my life happen, not try to plan things too much, because that's when the greatest things have happened for me (meeting my husband, crashing on a friend's couch for two months in NYC, auditioning for IDC). It's just so hard to not know what is going to happen in the next six months.

Once I finally get a day off, I'll have time to put things into perspective a little bit better.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Up and up

It's been a while and many things have happened in my personal dance life.

For example, I will be attending the Dance/USA conference tomorrow! Dance/USA is a national organization that provides support for dance companies. Check it out:
I have much still to learn, being that I've only been in my director position for 9 months, and am excited to be a sponge and soak up some new information tomorrow.

As the Touring and Outreach Director of Innervation Dance Cooperative, I feel that my work is never done. So many schools to contact! So many festivals to research! Somehow, IDC has had more touring opportunities lately than possibly ever.

On Monday, we performed at the House of Blues! Spur-of-the-moment, completely random...we were asked to be a part of the "Service Industry Talent Night." Since many of our dancers are servers, bartenders, and (ahem) baristas, we were able to participate. The show ended up consisting of 5 bands and IDC, so the modern ballet dancers definitely stood out.

We had a blast, rehearsing up until the last minute in our fabulously outfitted dressing room. On stage, we tip-toed around instruments and sound equipment. In the crossover space, a drummer practiced on a desk chair seat.

What a fun way to get our name out into a completely different world -- I'd say that there were at least a hundred people there.

Up next for me: Performing with GI Alliance at Edgewater Arts Festival and Celebrate Clark Street, Dance Camp at NorthSide Dance Theater, IDC tour of "Gods, Monsters, and Heroes" to Ravenswood School, organizing dance parties with IDC at the Morton School back to school fair...and that's just July.

Until next time.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hello again

Dear DITLOADers,
So sorry I haven't posted in nearly two months! In that time, I performed in GI Alliance's spring show, performed in festivals with Renegade Dance Architects, produced and performed in Innervation Dance Cooperative's spring show, and produced the IDC after school dance club's show.
I've clearly been a little busy.

It's been a wonderful beginning to spring, and the work hasn't stopped. The day after closing the IDC show, some of us went right back into rehearsal to prepare for a school tour date of "Gods, Monsters and Heroes." That will be next Friday. Also, GIA has remained in rehearsal. We are putting on an in-studio fundraiser performance called "1,2,3,4." That is also next Friday! In addition, of course Renegade Dance Architects is revving up the classes and rehearsals...we still have a few more pieces that are being set over the summer for our show in August.

All of this, plus teaching and taking class at NorthSide (and hopefully sneaking in a couple of other classes at Lou Conte's)...I'm happier than a pig in mud. I am currently dancing twice as much as I am working at Starbucks. This life is what I dreamed of living, and never thought possible.

I have so much more that I want to talk about, so expect to read more soon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Daydreams and Rants

This is exactly how I dreamed my life would be. Working with wonderful people everyday who continue to inspire me. Surrounded by artists, a community that is supportive rather than competitive. Struggling to make ends meet, but surviving (and dare I say, thriving).

I have had many ups and downs recently, and as I was talking with two of my friends at separate times yesterday, I think the downs were only a product of exhaustion. When well-rested, I feel nothing but absolute peace. How could I want for more?

I feel blessed to be working with such wonderful people -- the partners at NorthSide Dance Theater, company and co-op of IDC, and dancers of GIA, and RDA.

This was the first Chicago audition season that I haven't participated in since I've been here. I didn't go to the cattle calls of impossibility (aka River North or Hubbard Street), and didn't go to some that were maybe a little more possible for SOMETHING to come out of it (aka New Dances). I'm extremely busy with everything that I'm working on right now...and for the first time I feel completely fulfilled by my work and want nothing else.

I have finished two dances that are about to premiere, one dance has mere seconds to completion and the fourth has less than 30 seconds. And...I really like what I've done. I hope you do too!

Now that I have filled your minds with fluffy, daydreamy spouts of my genuine happiness, I have to rip those pretty clouds to talk about not so nice stuff. Fundraising. Or rather, lack of support from audiences at fundraisers.

I have had a couple fundraisers so far this year for a couple of my dance companies, and I've noticed a trend: the lack of attendance from our patrons. I am so happy that there are people who are interested in small contemporary dance companies and actually crack their wallets open to pay $20 or less for an evening length show. Bravo, dance lovers! I don't understand why people don't find the fundraisers leading up to said show to be just as important. We can't put on a show without funds.

Non-profit arts organizations are in a bind. We have drive and goals and missions and dreams. We don't have money. We have debt. The few number of grants available are difficult to obtain, but please believe that we are trying. So many other organizations just like my dance companies are in need of financial support, so competition is tough.

That's why private funding is so important. That's why I advertise my "so many" fundraisers to my friends. I'm not trying to leech your back account. I just figure that if you like what I do, you might like to see more of it in the future.

This topic is on my mind because I had an awesome fundraiser a week ago (endless pizza and wine for 3 hours for $25!) that was poorly attended. It made me and other people very sad. I also have a hugely awesome fundraiser coming up this Saturday. All the bells and whistles included (4 hour open premium bar, dinner by Wildfire, live band, dance lesson, teaser performance, raffles and auctions) for only $50. That is much less than you would pay to go out to dinner and then to see a show. Yet, so far, our tickets sales are pretty low. And you know what...I have a fundraiser next weekend too. $10 for a free drink and a show. (PS, if you want specific information about these events just let me know.)

My main point is that we can all dig in and attend fundraisers with a little bit of planning. Everyone's excuse these days is that there just isn't enough money. It's such an easy default when the economy is in a slump. It's just frustrating to see people spend huge amounts of money on TVs, furniture, vacations, and fancy dinners without even thinking otherwise yet won't pull out a dollar for a raffle ticket to help a non-profit buy a sewing needle.

All of the above comes from a source of frustration, but I hope that it inspires me and you to invest in what is important to you.
I won't yell at you if it happens to be a TV.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A difficult decision

I made a difficult decision this weekend. For almost a year now, I had planned on auditioning for Thodos Dance Chicago's "New Dances." It's the only time of year that they audition non-company dancers to be included in a show. I was so excited, but then at the last minute I realized that I have absolutely no time to be involved in another show. This is not the type of audition where it is okay to take the company's four-hour audition as a free class, and then turn down a role if it is offered. I believe that would be very disrespectful. Plus, if I had been offered a role, I know I would have taken it.
I love having many projects going on at the same time. It's exciting! I just don't want so much on my plate that my passion becomes a chore. I already have glimpses of that now, subtle hints that I may have too much of a good thing.
As you probably well know (because I remind people of what I'm working on all the time), I am now working on three different shows. After the IDC show in May, I didn't have anything else planned. I recently met with my friend, the artistic director of Renegade Dance Architects, and spoke of my intentions to continue to perform with the company. Since that conversation, I will now be in a show in August.
I'd say that is enough on my plate for now.

I have more that I want to talk about (in regards to raising money for non-profits and other things that disappoint me), but we'll save that for next time.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's been a little while, and I've been rather busy.
The big news is that my husband and I just moved to a new apartment. We're a bit north of our old place, but the location is excellent. We're still extremely close to reliable public transportation, near shops and restaurants, and I'm much closer to the studio now.
The move was financially essential. Now that I am making nearly half what I made last year, we had to cut expenses somewhere. Easiest solution was to find a cheaper apartment. So now we are living in a beautiful two bedroom apartment above close friends, and we have a roommate (an actor) to split the costs.
I would love to say it has been a smooth transition, but it's been difficult for me to adjust to certain aspects of the move. I always get territorial in a new spaces, and I have been more defensive that usual about my design and organization ideas. I don't think it has helped that all three of us are extremely busy with work and rehearsals and performances and don't have a ton of time to devote to unpacking the new apartment.
Slowly, things are falling into place. And hopefully soon I will turn back into the relaxed, respectful, easygoing Stephanie that I want to be.

But dance is not slowing down at all. I am in a performance this week (IDC is the guest company for Columbia College's Dance/Movement Therapy Alumni Concert), have teaser performances in upcoming fundraisers for IDC and GIA, then my piece for Renegade was accepted into Chicago Fringe Artists Networking Night, and then it's the GIA show...and then a few weeks later is the IDC show!

So many exciting and new things in my life. I hope you will follow along as I come across new adventures.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ramblings, or "The Next Thing"

I've been hanging around the apartment, bored, for the last few hours. Lately, I impress myself with how quickly I become restless when I'm supposed to be "resting." Tonight is arguably my only night off for the next several weeks, to be followed by back to back 15 hour days and moving to a new apartment.

I've packed up some clothes, eaten dinner, watched half an hour of tv, and then started watching some clips of pieces that I'm working on. Watching dance got me started on researching more opportunities for myself. I clicked through webpages for dance companies, studios, choreographers, other dancers that I know, searching for something that would trigger inspiration.

It's a constant obsession: what else can I be doing to improve myself? What other types of work can I be doing? Who else can I collaborate with? When can I fit in more classes?

Don't get me wrong: I never want any of my peers to think that I am not fully content with the work that I am currently doing. I love the companies that I work with (and see a great deal of potential for them to do great things), love the dancers that I'm working with, and I just feel very lucky for everything that I have right now. However, I do still have quite a bit of determination to become...better. A more skilled dancer, a more convincing actress, a more moving performer, a more creative choreographer, a more productive director. Just better, overall.

I'm currently looking at what comes next. GI Alliance's show will be over (for now at least) in April, Innervation's show will be over in May, and Renegade is looking at late summer for a concert. I realize that for most people, June and July are still quite off in the future, but I am automatically looking for something that will work perfectly with my schedule and still offer me further opportunities as an artist.

Hopefully, the New Dances audition next month will go well.
If not, it's on to...the next thing.