Personal Statements!?!

Recently, I’ve even trying- desperately- to write my personal statement.

Instead of naturally writing a seemingly endless essay on who I am, what I’ve achieved and how to be cliché, I wrote about why I cannot write a personal statement.

Draft 1:

I’ve been sat here for 16 minutes and 48 seconds and this is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

For me, writing is a habitual and enjoyable pass-time. I can fill a page with beauty and tragedy in around fifteen minutes. However, having to write without flare is extremely difficult.

Above most things, I am insecure and under-confident. This means that writing about myself in a positive light is also extremely difficult!

Combing the above has been a nightmare.

My issue, I think, is that when thinking of just myself, I tend to believe that I have an abundance of achievements and various experiences. I also believe that I am ‘good’ at what I do. But when comparing myself to anyone else, I instantly start telling myself that I’m never going to get ‘good’ at all. And that any confidence I had in myself previously was deeply naive of me.

In other words, to think myself a ‘good’ dancer is stupid, thoughtless and pointless.

Ouch.

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‘things’ do get ‘personal’…

‘Things’ are about to get ‘personal’ and here’s the truth:

Every dance style has flaws, the sooner you realise this the better.

This is normally a blog about a dancer (in training) writing formally about her personal dancing experiences.

THIS is a BIG old RANT.

It has taken me two months and ten days to write again, and it’s not even about dance. This post is about the dancers and commanders of the dance world.  I am here to warn the 2 people who read this blog about the misleading world of contemporary dance.

I feel naive and frustrated.

Growing up, I knew that the apparently cut-throat ballerina lifestyle wasn’t for me but I enjoyed dancing and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do so I continued. I started jazz and tap classes, again, realising quickly that ‘nice’ little girls who were trying their best didn’t get big and ‘special’ offers (this sounds like a meal-deal from Tesco). It was the girl who could do the splits- down to either genetics or pushy parents. It was the boy who could be stomach-wrenchingly ‘masculine’ while dancing ‘girly’ steps in front of his Dad. It was everyone but me and I decided, yet again, that it just wasn’t for me.

So, Imii, at fifteen years-old, started contemporary technique classes. Finally. A weird, inclusive, open-minded, interesting and strong style to which I loved and enjoyed every challenging second of. And mostly, I still do.

I met more contemporary dancers, I engaged more with adult dancers, and came to the conclusion that I had been too quick to positively judge this style’s social sphere. Considering I had only met a handful of adult contemporary dancers, I wasn’t to know that this was the least objective idea I had ever come to. Contemporary has just as much to judge about as any other style of dance.

With all this hate circulating in the dance sphere, I asked other ‘performers’ if they feel the same about their culture. The consensus was that every performance career will judge you, but some people are just easier to pick on than others.

Here comes the silver lining!!

Honestly, after saying all of that, never doubt yourself. Because if, like me, you feel like you have been deceived, please carry on. The nice people are there just look closer. I have doubted myself so many times but each time I stumbled upon a reason to carry on and find a new spirit. People who make you feel as if you’re not good enough are people who fuel your doubt. If you have ever been proud of what you’re doing, if you have ever been cheered on, if you have ever been given praise by a role-model then you ARE good enough.

You will only become better by blocking out those who defy and those who make you feel worthless. Rise up and be strong. There is strength where there is pride.

Ballet- The Art of Observing.

Ballet- The Art of Observing.

Five years old, and gripped by the idea of watching a ‘real-life’ ballet, I was taken cautiously by my mother into the Hall for Cornwall to watch Swan Lake. A rather exciting and magical performance; apparently. I fell asleep within thirty minutes.

Yet, an experience I will never forget the first thirty minutes of! In all honesty, for me to remember anything at five years old is a miracle, so the dancers and company -whoever they were- should feel very proud. This brings me to the point that just as an eager small child can’t appreciate a ballet, neither can many average people. It does not mean, however, that they will never be able to master the art of observing.

Observe
 verb
notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant.

Observation, a fine art involving all senses and an open mind. An art form not nearly as recognised as it should be and used every day by thousands of blind eyes.

Understanding observation is understanding the difference between looking and seeing, the gap between an educated eye and a blind one. The educated eye sees an endless array of coloured possibilities within art whereas the blind eye sees the beauty, but no reason, no contradiction and no friction. Art can be false and wrong and beautiful and sunshine all at once.

Looking is where appreciation fails, seeing is where it blooms.

Delving into the intensity of a good traditional ballet, there are going to be audience members that will fall asleep but somehow end up thinking, “I wish that was me…” because, as you know if you’re reading this blog, ballet is strength and beauty on a stage with lights. However, there are going to be audience members who come home and write, dream, speak and live the ballet until they can stand it no longer. These are the people who piece it together and apart, filter through the movement and dance it metaphorically and physically. The eyes have seen beauty and loopholes and white noise and colour! Appreciation for dance and art comes from that place in your brain where you chose to love or fall straight into love.

As a teenager, I saw a ballet again- St Petersburg Ballet- at the Hall for Cornwall with my dance school. I sat through the whole thing, thankfully, without falling asleep- this would’ve been embarrassing at fifteen. I felt myself more engaged, all of a sudden it wasn’t just pretty. I found elegance where I found problems and problems where I found elegance. Sat on the edge of my seat for the first time, I found myself registering the significance of movements; a suggestive and romantic hand, a heavy landing to make my feet wince.

My opinions evolved and became educated, I started to see rather than look. Using observatory and critical skills meant that my education grew as my eyes saw.

Since this realisation, I endeavour to see when teaching, performing and observing.

Tavaziva/Propeller, Young Warriors

Young Warriors, a piece created by two inspiring Tavaziva dancers and eleven powerful young people. This choreography was not just about displaying the strength in the children/young adults that we are, but about the knowledge that our strength will grow as we do, that the future is ours.

I believe that, on a general note, the three audiences of Young Warriors needed to see this. They, mostly as adults, needed to see how much a young person’s voice can be heard just as loudly as any adult on a soapbox. We became not only physical warriors- in black skirts and head-dresses- for those rehearsals, tech runs and performances, but warriors striving for growth and strength.

We worked as a unit. Although the piece combined solos, duets, trios and unison, our relationship was unity. A tribe of Young Warriors.

Young Warriors was choreographed and developed over one unforgettable weekend. Our ‘mentors’- Yaa Appiah-Badu and Luke Crook- challenged us to find the vitality and enjoyment in the movement. None of us had any experience in African dance before. Over the course of 12 hours, Yaa and Luke were able to teach us that it’s not about being a replica, it’s about, “finding your own groove“.

This workshop opened my eyes to completely different ways of moving that I wouldn’t have discovered anywhere else.

Tavaziva, Izindava.

Tavaziva are a bewitching blend of African, Ballet and Contemporary dance, and an extraordinary watch. If ever you need to feel empowered, impassioned and exhausted, Tavaziva is the monumental motivator you’re looking for.

I watched Tavaziva’s Izindava in October 2017 at AMATA Falmouth. I have to say, the performance was so touching it has been embedded in my mind ever since.

‘It is not about fear, it is about strength and humanity.’ quite rightly, the company claims. The dancers physicalise this to such an intensity, the message of peace becomes a plea. Through the strength and vulnerability of each movement, the dancers portray human so truthfully. This piece strummed the guilt strings that each of us bare, from forgetting to recycle to baring politically unattractive ancestry.

Dancing as both ‘ The Beast’ and the victim, the company channelled the elementary components of each beautifully. ‘Beast’ with piercing, dictating strength, yet no real dignity or self. Victims as warriors, united and purposeful. And still, there is beauty in all movements, even with the characterisations.

‘The Beast’ (costume as shown in feature picture) made a lasting impression on me personally, hearing the great slap of it’s extended arm on the ground rang of the truth of not just our personal beasts but of the powerful beasts who run the world. There is very little that is done for the sake of the people. Only art does this now.

Feature Image courtesy of Tavaziva Dance Company, all rights belong to the company.

Welcome, welcome!

Welcome to my first blog.

My name is Imii, I’m currently 17 and I hope to sustain this blog until it’s no longer socially appropriate. I live in Cornwall, it’s pretty but always raining, not much in the way of dance culture but we’re working on it! I’m in my first year of a Dance Diploma and A Level English Language and Literature, and hope to fill the rest of my years with a combination of both. I mainly dance Contemporary and Ballet and teach Improvisational and Technique based Contemporary.

It’s 8:41am and I’m watching BBC’s Peter Rabbit, but that’s not what this blog is about.

In my blog I’ll be writing about dances/choreographers that I see or that I work with. And I’ll be posting whenever I see something new or take part in a new dance experience.

Follow me and who knows, you might find it interesting!

Imii

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