It would be fruitless to say that I had a productive day. Today was actually one of those overworked, over-scheduled days where I had to take a walk (sans iPod, phone, everything) and take a big bath in my abundant thoughts. It’s one of the more healthy affectations I’ve cajoled myself into performing. It helps to remember why it is that I’m doing all this everything all the time forever.
This is not to say, for a moment at least, that I did not want to take my complimentary 2 night hotel stay for Harrah’s Resort down to Atlantic City in order to gamble all of my “savings” away on the roulette table, hoping I would get lucky enough to make enough money to put together a masterpiece. Why dream when you have all this!?
I spent the earlier portion of my day staying ahead of my workload at work and making sure to take care of Friday’s leftover remnants of follow-ups and to-do’s that didn’t quite make it to the level of accomplishment that usually shows itself before the end of the work week. A botched attempt to get a flu shot at the doctor (he recommended a pharmacy) and I ran a few domestic errands, preparing for my sojourn to Germany next week.
There was the facebook banter and catching up and checking my schedule for the week. I’m so busy now that I have all this time on my hands. I forgot for a minute that I had friends! And oh so many libra birthdays. I actually took a lunch today and ate at my other other job at the bar, half of which was filled with former and current employees. Good times. I met a tall, handsome man who is fresh to the city and we chatted over a cigarette. It just so happens that he is classically trained in dance. My head started spinning, minding his posture and gait, thinking of millions of ways to use his body. Hopefully he’ll be at my next rehearsal.
The biggest part of the longish day was towards the end of the beginning of the night, in an office far far away. By far far away I mean out of my league. But if there is anything I learned from my idol, Courtney Love (insanity phase 2 circa Kurt’s Death), is that you can be in whatever league you want to be if you learn how to play the game without changing who you are. Sure, you can put on the makeup and wear the dress, but you can still be the loudest one at the bar.
And oh so high that bar is (or barre, if you well).
The Dance Advance offices are so metro and chic, you totally forget that you’re in Philly (no offense) and you feel like you’re on camera. The hallway that precedes the front desk has stark white walls adorned with retro inspired free form drawings with a modern edge and in contemporary colors of bright pink, green and yellow. Surely a local artist commission. The offices are filled with more sterile white walls, paired nicely with grey accents and a bold but subtle modern print carpet in blue and metallic tones. There are little quotes on the wall, some of them more decipherable than others and there are sparse offerings of track lighting scattered about, some on unorthodox parts of the wall instead of the ceiling. The furniture looks modern Euro but comfortable. There is glass everywhere, but not in the industrial sense, more like a trendy, metropolitan business incubator.
I walked into the conference room where the seminar slash Q&A session regarding the 2010 grant cycle/process was held and was immediately impressed with the conference room chairs. They were metal and mesh with black plastic legs and had fabric seats that were covered in a textile of navy blue with green abstract circles. The arms were adjustable and the seat tilted all the way back, almost deliberately forcing you to relax. The room was immaculate. On the back side table there were drinks and coffee and I noticed the appropriation of rations and the use of real glassware. Again, impressed. I glowed with comfort and envy.
The director walked from the podium to introduce himself to me first (obviously, per usual, I sat at the front of the class) and uttered “I’m afraid I don’t know you.” I announced my “real” name (that sounds so less interesting than the one I actually use) and he moved on to everybody else, cheerily laughing with several of the faces of people he “already knew” while I feigned my non-embarrassment.
By the end of the session I was feeling informed and not really so out of my league as when I walked to the front desk that resembled a modular spacecraft. I drifted off a couple of times, really soaking in what he said about making an “argument” for your proposal and some really good ideas came to mind. I had a list of questions, most of which he answered.
Afterward I walked up to him and thanked him for his help and asked him a short question about the documentation specifics and he answered promptly and efficiently. Then, he asked me if I had any upcoming shows and I told him that I was waiting to hear back from a couple of places. He then asked me if I was in rehearsal and I said “yes”. He suggested that I invite him and some of the staff to see any works in progress I have coming up and I agreed. And then I left.
My smile melted on my face. Initially I was upset and frustrated but at the same time I was kind of turned on by the challenge. I never have to worry about how I’ve gotten as far as I have. I’m good at what I do, I am ambitious and organized, I am a perfectionist, and doggonit, people like me. You want to put me under the microscope? Bring it. I did feel a little threatened by some people in the room but only because of their reputation. When the director was going through the common mistakes that applicant’s make I was like “duh”. We shall see.
It was kind of enthralling, the whole process. Here I am, this alley cat, scratching at the door, sadly watching the pretty Siamese cats lopping up warm milk. Meow. Meow.
This is all for money. It’s a business. And it is with that money that I will see little return on except all the intangible rewards that come with producing art. I worry that I will be or go crazy and present myself in an uncouth, unprofessional way. Is that not one of the personality flaws of the artist? Oh, I’ve met plenty a crazy one in my day.
I kept thinking about the “argument” that I have to make. I can’t lose focus on the project. No matter what happens, every application is a process of practice. This is one of the best ideas that I’ve had in a very long time and I’d like the fiscal and professional help in making it come to fruition. I have struggled so many times in the past with lack of time and money, both of which pay for each other. So much of my work is under rehearsed because I don’t have the time to commit myself or the money to a proper dance rehearsal. I water down my work because there will be no time to repeat it over, and over, and over and over and over again until it’s just about almost perfect. There is no money to have a guilt-free rehearsal or audition, knowing that the talent is going to get paid for their work. It’s such a simple equation.
On my walk I was thinking about how hard it is for us all. We were all sitting in that conference room like survivors. We had what most would call a pointless degree in Theatre, Dance, Media Arts, et al. It is so frustrating to be in a profession where people are constantly telling you “there’s no money in that.” Just recently at an orientation function at school I met so many parents that were disappointed their son or daughter didn’t want to be a doctor or engineer. Poor art school kids.
But there are survivors among us, and no matter what we have to do- plead for money, work as baristas and bartenders, eat cereal every night for dinner, we know that we will be happier doing what we do more than any other profession out there. Except maybe Trophy Wife.