Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The wonder of choice

Taking control of your life and choosing the direction it is to go in is a massively frightening prospect to many. Stepping out if that comfort zone into the unknown is the biggest (and can prove to be the most exciting) step one can achieve. 
The thing I emphasise here is the choice... The option to chose will more often than not lead to a more positive transition. 
Within my inquiry I have delved into areas of career transition disecting professionals' routes and their reasoning for the transitions taken. 
Within the arts, it is often seen as a luxury to have the option to seize a performing career, as the majority would see an end to their dancing life as a scarier catastrophe (I for one felt this at stages); with elements such as de-selection and injury being a common factor, harming self confidence and cutting the journey short. Here many feel a loss of identity and enter a grieving process for what they know and love. The shift into comfort within a new career obviously takes longer in these circumstances. 
I think personal courage in both situations is vital, and as performers you would think we hold this in bucket loads. But as most of us struggle through, unaware of possible external support we exist in the transition often treading water for a while, even being blinded of possible opportunity as we cling I to the 'what ifs' and the very recent past.
Having, through investigations within my inquiry, personally identified professional dancer support systems that are already in place who give psychological, financial and educational aid to dancers in and around their career transition I hope to share my awareness with others. 
Hopefully the stage of resettlement can be reduced in length if we remember to go with our hearts, take courage in the daunting challenge, believe in the light at the end of the tunnel and most importantly seek the support (professionally or via friends and family) if we so need it. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Writing up the data

Writing up data = a long and arduous task!!!

Despite waiting a significant amount of time for the completion of many questionnaires and the meetings to record some interviews I am now reigniting my passion for the results I have so eagerly awaited. I am especially pleased that my participants allowed me to record the interviews as I am now able to re-listen and cast my ‘fresh’ eyes and mind over the responses made at this point of analysis.
The benefits I am finding when comparing the audio samples to the emailed responses are that I can actively remember the emotion and personal elements given to an answer…sometimes body language, tone of voice and eye contact can say a thousand more words than what is actually being heard. It is these subtleties and the occasional hesitation that have been encapsulated that spring me right back to the point of intrigue with discovering more about the specific candidate.
I have also been able to analyse my personal approach from the position of interviewer. I went in these meetings with the hope to remain non-bias, straight to the point and to leave room for the participant to feel comfortable in giving their response, from a place where they did not feel there was a right or wrong response. I must admit this section of the inquiry has definitely held good training in the development in the non-bias voice! (Albeit i cringe every time I hear myself speak…is that how I really sound!!? You can tell I am a dancer with very little voice training!!! Still it has left me laughing at moments, always a nice uplift!)
 Looking back I also acknowledged  how I conducted and presented myself, the way I remembered sitting, if I was fidgeting ( which I know I always do) and if I interrupted by contributing to the discussion, which could sway the direction of the response.  It highlighted many things about the researcher techniques I do (or do not) hold.
Within the ethical framework of my inquiry I will not submit any audio files and i will transcribe/ document the interviews, where some quotes are used and the full interview will be found in the appendices. Phew, it all seems like so much writing now. I still find myself getting lost in the enormity of the project. I keep trying to break it down into sub-sections, but this doesn't always work – I’m always finding my mind runs away with itself!
I guess the next lesson of the day is to achieve a successful ‘compression’ or relevant data to transcribe and use. I have found an easier method, that doesn’t mean I am sat writing the whole interview pout word for word to start with. I am note taking with making sure I write the time down of a particular point of interest I uncover…this way I am able to rewind the audio. I mean for research projects I guess you should type everything up but I see this is more about ‘you’ and ‘your process’ of learning and discovery than it is about actual findings??
I have these moments of excitement when I hear something I instantly know challenges or support something stated in my literature or expectations during my intro, so you can imagine my delight upon ‘rehearing’ or discovering these comments as I gather and write up my data.
Hearing how many others go through the grief and identity issues has made me realise it is OK and absolutely normal (although immensley difficult). It is not a problem with me...it is just an adjustment to a scenario; we all act and react differently even before the option of help is offered, it is an individual learning curve that in the end we all find settles as we find our feet once again.

Monday, 25 November 2013

A blast from the 'potentially predicitve past'

Having come to discover an exciting new path I wish to fulfill post BAPP and performance, I looked into other successful career changes of dancers I admire, when I came across the following familiar article.
I remember a few years ago, as part of a personal diary and 10 year projection I made (and toally forgotten about) until reading this article online once again. As it rang bells I looked on to my hard drive and found it tucked away nicely for another day…and here we are!

Beyond Performance: Charlton Boyd, Massage Therapist
Published September 1, 2010.
Boyd today (courtesy of Boyd)
For a dancer, the art of finding equilibrium is an ongoing practice achieved through continuous subtle adjustments. After 14 years with the Mark Morris Dance Group, Charlton Boyd is finding balance in both body and soul and helping his massage therapy clients to attain the same.
It was with the Inner City Ensemble, under the loving tutelage of director Ralph Gomez, and later at Juilliard that Boyd developed his dance technique, artistry and strong work ethic. Sidelined from the Limón Dance Company with a torn medial meniscus, he explored the acting and singing talents learned at ICE.
In 1989, he was hired to perform at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, as a “supplementaire” dancer for Mark Morris’ L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. Returning to New York City, at a crossroads in his dance career, he appeared in musicals and sang in nightclubs. Morris hired him as a full-fledged company member in 1994. His long line, quiet spirit and can-do attitude graced many a Morris work for the next 14 years. A total of three arthroscopic surgeries later, the job he loved had become an overwhelming source of stress. “Anyone in concert dance knows,” Boyd says, “company life, not the healthiest of environments, can be all consuming. It’s a vicious cycle of constant wear on the body and psyche.”
With a leave of absence, Boyd did some research—and a lot of soul searching. “I sat down and asked myself, What do I value most? What makes me happy? In what kind of atmosphere would I find fulfillment?” he says. He knew his calling lay in a healing, nurturing environment and his dance training had instilled in him an understanding of body mechanics, anatomy, and sensitivity to energy flow.
Using resources and support from Career Transition For Dancers and The Actors Fund, he entered a rigorous 1.5-year program at the Swedish Institute. He got his license as a massage therapist in 2009, and before going into
private practice, honed his skills at a local spa. “It’s the best place to refine your technique and find your rhythm when first starting out,” he says.
“Charlton had the same intelligence, sensitivity, and intuition as a partner that he now utilizes in his massage practice,” says MMDG dancer Amber Star Merkens. “His holistic approach is deeply compassionate. He has a natural gift as a healer.”
Boyd’s dream is to open a wellness center that will be a therapeutic gathering place for artists and musicians. The biggest challenge he finds is managing the business end, something most dancers have no experience with. What he is certain of: his relationship with movement continues to provide the balance in his life.

It is funny how circles in life are made…starting life as a dot/an idea…growing in to a line wandering off into the future on a journey…curving, growing and coming back nicely to the idea or thought with it a spiral of knowledge gained in time.
Maybe I had always hoped to find a time where I can develop a further understanding in to the body and how, as dancers, we can exploit the musculoskeletal architecture to our athletic and artistic advantages.

Positive words shared from one professional to another

‘’With everything that has happened to you, you can feel sorry for yourself, or treat what has happened to you as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow, or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose’’ Wayne Dyer

This was a lovely quote that was brought to my attention from a guy who has taken part in my inquiry; I think it reads what I now confidently believe. Hopefully when a tricky situation occurs I can share these words and give the chance to actively decide an outcome, be it with my own challenges or with fellow professionals who may face uncertain times in personal and professional life.

Then and now...career change

Thanks to my inquiry I have found a solid standing where I can see, happily, my career changing direction allowing me to go with the flow and accept change as a good thing.
I have subconsciously used the process, learning and experiences of BAPP as a ‘self-help’ progression where I can take an external and diagnostic view of my own career…by means of conversing with and taking advice from others about their careers and professional transitions.
By stepping out of my personal journey and looking at others from the objective, non-biased view I have been able to find answers to my own questions that were perhaps in areas of the scary unknown that seemed to present themselves as obstacles as I was too afraid to accept that the next step was imminent in happening.
Having discovered that denial can be part of transition, as it is in the stages of grief, I understand that timing of the change can differ between people and their personal experiences of career transition.
By actively choosing/accepting my transition and the possibilities that lay in store for me, starting with a sabbatical from performing, I am super energised about my future.
Looking back over the last year I was thinking that I was a dance teacher and taking time to do BAPP before performing again…this has developed somewhat! I know have redeveloped my interest in dance injury and rehabilitation and have since taken extra studies for this next step
Since June this year I have started a new job. I have begun work in an osteopaths and chiropractors.  I remember thinking when I was in training how amazing it would be to become a dance specialist in the injury rehabilitation world (mainly due to my interest in the body and my countless sessions i personally had with physicians tending to my injuries.) When this opportunity arose for fulltime work in this environment my tummy skipped…this only ever happens when the passion kicks in, so I knew it was a must! I automatically started planning my next move, my next study course, my next 5 years and my next graduation…jumping ahead there I know! This is the excitement I had been lacking with my current work…bouncing from job to job.
‘So alongside my teaching (I haven’t cut this out completely) I am now in a clinic manager role and getting hands on experience and training that will develop into a proper course next year to become a practitioner.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Never underestimate the power of the SIG

Prior to the start of the course, the introduction of and deeper understanding of professional networks and special interest groups, I admit that I was not aware ‘its’ power of being.
There have been many occasions during this last year where I have found a level of support (where within this industry we are lead to believe through some experiences as being  a bitter, selfish and pretty much bleak vacuum of none existent team values) that without pleading for it has come my way through the community spirit from fellow professionals. They (…you), have been able to see obstacles through the same lens as me with an objective view, holding with it self-experience, offering the valuable word, ear and shoulder that you cannot always able to rely on being there at ones disposal. 
I say this as a great thank you to many of you on BAPP and more still in my own ‘outer’ circle of professionals, as without this I am sure I would have flaked onto self-deferral once again leaving a further sense of self-doubt and postponement failure which, to be honest, we could all do without.
During the last two months the devastating hurdles that have cropped up in my way have seemed higher and wider than ever…with a constant yell from my inner self ‘please can I get a break!?’ I won’t go into too much detail as many of you are aware, but alongside the usual full time work/life/study/rehearsal challenge that is an on-going battle I have had two tragedies within the family which has taken me aback with a full on crack. It is in times like these where life seems to hurtle past you when you yourself feel stuck at glacial pace unable to see…never mind chase or catch up with the day. Excuses excuses I hear you say, and I too can agree to an extent, but as we all have heard from time to time ‘things happen for a reason’ and it is to this reason I am now in search for discovering with great passion.
The continuous flow of ideas, themes and developments within my inquiry and the support (personal and professional) has kept me grounded and the stronger half of me on the right track; albeit in the slow lane of the track, shall we say!
My journal has been invaluable tool once again, although reading back some of the chapters I honestly do not see what use the words are…other than the initial export platform of emotion as a release to clear the head and heart. On the other hand some is comedy genius; I knew I still had my sense of humour! You never know I may share a few of these ‘light releases’ with you to bring a giggle!
My uploading of blogs may come as a flurry now as I seem to be in the right mind set and timing to share my thoughts, ideas, progressions, set-backs, revelations and the reciprocation of support for you all via the means of the blog, especially. After all this element is a requirement of the module…not only the interaction in person, phone calls etc.
I will begin by publishing my summary, my thoughts from the summer leave, the inquiry as it stands today, and how my professional practice has seen a great shift all thanks to my light bulb moments that very much frequent my being during the course!
Every experience good or bad, is indeed valuable for my line of inquiry as the ‘finding ones feet’ and psychological struggle of transition (of any kind) in general is giving me further knowledge and appreciation of the results/personal stories I am currently analysing.
I am LOVING this discovery.
Thank you once again! xxx