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If You Ain't First, You're Last...or are you?

Katie doesn’t have any experience with this topic—that’s why she’s opening up to all of you in hopes of learning more!


I got up early to write this blog. I love reading and writing in the early mornings—before the sun comes up. There is something about the early morning quiet that gives me peace, but also strength. I feel clearer and more grounded in the mornings. And then there’s the moment when the sun rises over the mountain tops pouring light into our living room window. A sunrise happens in just a few minutes but sometimes it feels like time stops. As the earth is gently covered in light, we’re given the gift of a new day at our fingertips.

I’ve always liked the beginnings. Of everything. I love planning a trip; I love overtures; I love the first day of dance class; I love getting all the ingredients out on the counter before even preheating the oven.

And I’ve always hated the endings. Because now that fleeting moment is over. Ironically, the power of that previous statement is one of the reasons I’m so passionate about performing arts. Even if a work is rehearsed, the live performance will always be different each time. (Isn’t that really rather beautiful? That we, as artists, can work with an intangible object for months or years and it still keeps true to its own life, teaching us about itself even in the moments where we, the human, are on display?)

But still, I’d rather be in the early creation stages than the performative stages. Oh, maybe that’s something to listen to?

I recently retired from performing. I don’t miss it one bit. I thought I would because I have been performing for so many years. Being in front of people is comfortable for me. Sharing in real and vulnerable experiences through dance is my love language.
But what I found was that in my routine of 1) learn 2) practice 3) perform 4) repeat, I found more joy through the learning stage. Whether I was alone or having to learn with others, being introduced to something for the first time opens so many doors for opportunity and choice. It’s exciting and unknown. The potential starts to reveal itself a little. In the creation stages, there are so many tedious things that you’re not worried about: costume choices, how to wear your hair, what the backstage area will look like, etc. You are just creating; creating something that has never happened before.

In the performative stages, you have to start worrying about small details: formation patterns, lighting choices, whether or not there is enough time to make that costume change. There is just more to worry about because…people are coming to watch! Literally, that’s it. The piece is now ‘done’ and you have to show people. If you ask any artist, they’ll say a work is never ‘done.’ But unfortunately artists don’t always get the pleasure of re-evaluating their own work for a variety of reasons. (And I’m certain that all artists make a crap-ton of work that never gets shown to anyone, but for the sake of this conversation, just roll with me).

I think this is starting to make a little sense. A huge part of life is spent in that performative stage. Or if we’re honest, we’ve turned our lives into a performance based on how we use social media. It’s a lot of pressure feeling like all the eyes are on you. Trust me, I get it.

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And I’m not really interested in talking about why we need address that. I think it’s important but rather complicated.

Instead, just try and pause in the early stages of whatever you’re doing. I’m sure parents are understanding this more than most when thinking about their babies, no matter the age. Enjoy the unfinished, raw, & messiness that is in the beginning. Sure, most sunrises are chilly and wet from dew. But that chill makes you appreciate the warmth even more.

Early bird gets the worm but the earlier bird makes friends with the worm and together they take over the world. :)

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