Where’s the Joy?

Everything we do should be joy-filled.  We are created in the image and likeness of Christ. We have been given this beautiful life for a brief time.  We have been given this world, each other, our talents and gifts and abilities.  We are RICH!  We should be filled with Joy!

The stage and the studio are factories of Joy.  But only when we approach them right.  When we approach them with greed or cynicism or laziness or lust, we create poison and we share poison with each other and with the audience.

But when we enter the studio and the stage with hearts of gratitude for the opportunity to work hard, express, fellowship, share, serve and learn, we create Beauty and Joy.  We create ART.  Too many schools are forgetting to teach this vital part of arts education.  If Art is to have Joy, it must have Purpose.  Purpose is always to heal, to serve, to lead us to Beauty.

When we approach the studio, or the stage, or when we choose which dancers, which schools, which choreographers to work with, let us remember to look for people who are cultivating Joy through Purpose.

Are You Religious or Spiritual? 

​originally posted on Chronic Gratitude

How many times have I heard people say “I don’t go to church. I believe in God, but not in churches.” And then with the confidence of a brilliant philosopher, they add “I am not Religious, I am Spiritual.” And then they expect me to be impressed. 
Well, I am not. Yes, churches are broken. Humanity is broken. I am broken. But we don’t give up on the Truth. We don’t quit trying. 

It makes no more sense than if we were to say “Fast Food is unhealthy, so I don’t eat at all.”

People, please! Get out of the McDonald’s drive thru line, go home and cook healthy, real food! Gather with your family, thank God for the food, and then EAT! Nourish your body.

And next weekend, find the nearest Orthodox Christian Church and bring your family to liturgy! The church Christ handed to His disciples DOES still exist! It is not another denomination, not another churchy flavor created by people looking for something they like more. It is the one, true, ancient faith, that began in 33 AD and has continued unchanged for more than 2000 years! 

Come back to church. Nourish your Soul.

 

Learning from the Animals

Observing the wildlife on our property has given me useful metaphors for the people around me.hawkside

There are the squirrels, nervous, noisy little critters, always rushing frantically about, collecting and saving. They work tirelessly to store food so that they won’t starve in the winter. But they are so busy storing and hiding, that in the Spring trees grow from the loot they have buried and forgotten.

From the squirrels, I have learned to be prepared, but not to get so preoccupied with preparing for tomorrow, that I forget to LIVE today.

There are the rabbits. We only see them if we sneak up quietly and unexpectedly just before sundown. They live in such fear of predators, that they never come out to see the sun. Once, we rescued a group of bunnies from under our burn pile. We had to place them back very close to their den, without touching them at all, so the mother wouldn’t be too scared to come back for them.

Can you imagine being so scared of something,  that you are willing to abandon your children? I cannot.

We have huge murders of crows (yes, a flock of crows is actually called a murder) that swoop in, blacken the sky and lay like a huge dark blanket over the treetops. They make a horrible racket, and it seems like they are each so busy fussing and complaining and gossiping, and none of them hears the other speaking. They fuss and squawk and then, altogether, move on to the trees across the highway, only to repeat themselves yet again.

The crows are dark and their sound is never pleasant or joyful.  I have also noticed that they can be found most often filling the trees in our town cemetery. Now if that’s not symbolism, I don’t know what is!

Of course, there are the ever-present mosquitoes, ready to make a meal of our flesh anytime we set foot outside. There are the cicadas chanting their song of heat all summer long. And there are two great owls who launch into deep conversation in the woods next to the house every night.

There are also conversations between my dog and several dogs in distant neighborhoods. The fact that they’ve never met in person doesn’t seem to matter to them, and they seem quite content to carry on this chat with strangers.

Maybe dogs would understand the value of Facebook more than I do?

But then there is the hawk. He sits quietly at the very top of the tallest tree. He swoops gracefully in large circles above the pasture. When he spots his prey, he sweeps in quickly, no warning, no noise, no commotion, and his great talons gather his dinner with split second precision, and he is gone as quick as he came.

The rabbits, the squirrels, the lizards are all busy in their own tiny microcosms, unaware of the larger world around them. But the hawk has a different perspective. From his perch, he sees how it all connects. He sees the cause and effect. He sees the pattern in the land, the storm on the horizon, the cows stampeding on the other side of the woods. He sees where the stream comes from and he sees where it goes.

The hawk is wise and strong. But he is also quiet and he doesn’t call attention to himself. He doesn’t make grand announcements, he doesn’t need the protection of a flock. Most days, life continues down here on the farm and we are not even aware of his presence. But he knows we are here. He sees everything. And he knows what it all means.

When life gets overwhelming, I find myself tempted to respond as a pragmatic squirrel, or a frightened rabbit, or to just join the gossip and useless complaining of the crows. These are the times I must be reminded to climb that tree, shut my mouth, and look at the bigger picture.

This life requires the wisdom and the perspective of the Hawk.

Integrity

I may never be able to explore the world, but I MUST explore my own heart.

I may not know where I’m going, but I have to know who I am.

If my my actions aren’t speaking the same language, then my words mean NOTHING.

All the knowledge and education in the world is useless if I don’t know what I believe.

And it doesn’t matter what I believe if I am not willing to STAND UP FOR IT.

Why I Don’t Blog

I don’t Blog for money. I don’t Blog for popularity or acclaim. I don’t Blog because I think I have great wisdom to share with the world.

I know there are great writers out there….and great choreographers…..and great painters. I am only a great Sinner, and maybe a great Dreamer?

But words and dance and color are such wonderful tools for exploring and expressing. I use them to help me navigate the experiences of life, the roller coaster that is my emotions, the whirlwind of causes and effects, relationships, happenings in the world around me.

Blogging has become another creative way for me to explore and express. Like any art, it is the process, the creating that has value to the Artist. Whether or not anyone sees it or appreciates it is rather insignificant. It’s just not the point of creating art. We create, not to impress or to sell, but because Art is like a fire inside us and we must  create it to let it out. Its the feeling like you will just explode if you don’t create.

Another really great thing that I have found with blogging, is that it automatically indexes itself. With a journal, I would be flipping through page after page to find where I had jotted notes about a certain topic, but with the magic of modern technology, I can just do a keyword search and go directly to what I am looking for! 

An Artist is not just a person who makes a living making  art. An Artist is a person who feels the need to understand the meaning of the world, of a life, and uses the creative process to navigate and evaluate it all. An Artist uses a more tangible medium (paint, words, music) to draw connections, make conclusions, find Beauty and Purpose in the seemingly unconnected experiences and events of the world.

I am Artist.

Why I Blog 

I never was one to keep a diary or a journal. As a kid, it never felt secure enough to actually write my true thoughts and feelings. As a young adult, I struggled because if I was having a bad day, I didn’t want to dwell on it on paper, or to record bad thoughts and feelings that I figured were better cleared away and replaced with positivity.

But now, while I am not actively choreographing as often (which has always been my foremost avenue for artistic expression), I am finding that my art journal and my blogs are becoming very useful creative outlets. 

It’s not just about recording or reporting events. I sometimes vent my frustrations in my art journal, but no one else has to see that. And I am careful not to use the blogs that way, because it just seems offensive and juvenile.

But words, like paint, like dance, can express emotion, build story, and create image. I find an idea that inspires me, and the words to paint the idea creatively and encapsulate it into a work of art. It’s the same process as painting or drawing or choreographing. 

I certainly don’t mean to say that I am a great writer….or painter….or choreographer. Merely that I enjoy using words and color and dance to express and explore and make sense of the world around me and the landscape of my own heart and mind. 

Dancers

Watched a group of dancers improv this afternoon. It is always such a treat to watch dancers BEING artists in the moment. 

Dance is unique among the Arts, because a dancer is a dual mode creature. We are Athletes, working out all the time, improving and refining technique, focusing on details. We are also Artists, with a need to express and our own bodies are our medium. 

Some of us are more naturally Athletes and must learn to let our inner Artist emerge, and some of us are naturally Artists and we must work to acquire and maintain the discipline and diligence of Athletes.

Watchin Improv is different from watching choreographed dance. In improv, the Artist and the Athlete unite, and the dancer is not doing, but being. There is a Truth to improv, in which a dancer has no choice but to share her soul. It is open and raw and organic and real. 

As a choreographer, I have always loved watching improv as a way to choose dancers to work with. I get to see not only what they can do, but who they are. I like to know who I am working with. I get the most fulfillment out of creating Art on living breathing changing growing responding real persons.

Imagine what painting would be like if the paint were actually alive, with feelings and opinions, and moods?