17 March 2018

A Moment in Tension

Tonight is one of those nights when I wonder where that fine line is between dedication and self-care.

I had fully intended to practice dance tonight, as I always do, but suddenly a wall of exhaustion hit me and I ended up sleeping for an hour and a half -- right through my practice time. I made the decision to give myself the night off dance if I was so tired, but now I hate myself... how can you call yourself a dancer if you trade practice for a nap? You call this dedication? There are dancers all over the world who danced more this afternoon than you have all week. How do you expect to improve if you don't practice every day? You'll just lose all the abilities and strength and stamina you had and you'll be right back where you started. Every hour in that studio is an hour closer to improvement. You're already so far behind, and now you just put yourself farther. You wasted this whole evening. You could have done something to further your dream, but instead you just took a nap.

I tried to silence the voice by typing up some choreography notes -- which is still dance-related, dream-related -- but it will not be satisfied. That's not good enough. You didn't put anything in your muscle memory. You didn't stretch anything. You didn't strengthen anything. You didn't raise your heart rate. Your lungs didn't get worked. You sat on your butt all evening looking at a screen. You had one free day -- you could have done so much with it, and you wasted it. Why were you even tired? You didn't do anything to earn it. You don't deserve to be tired. You didn't do anything.

It's 1.30 in the morning and I'm still half-considering going and doing a half-hour practice, just to say that I did it. Just to know that my muscles and my memory won't atrophy.

16 March 2018

Music Day - Only Time

I am reinstating Music Day just so I can fangirl over this song. That is how good this song is. You know when you watch a sunset and everything seems so 'right'? That's what this song is like.

See, I bought a bunch of Crumbächer tapes the other day (full saga forthcoming). Stephen Crumbacher was already one of my favourite lyricists, just behind the likes of Terry Scott Taylor, Loyd Boldman, and the duo of David Meece and Dwight Liles. Identical Twins alone is a testament to just how much mastery Stephen Crumbacher has over the written word. Even in today's song -- notice how clearly you can picture each description of the sky. Now realise that he is painting this entire mental picture with three lines of text (each) and a bit of keyboard. He takes you almost literally across the galaxy, across time and space -- in essentially twelve lines of poetry.

I grew up in the Alberta countryside. Our yard faced west and every single night, from the comfort of our living room, we could watch God paint the western sky. I have seen many, many brilliant sunsets over the years, and that's one of the biggest things I miss now, living on a south-facing yard. But to this day sunsets capture me. All feels right in the world if I can watch a sunset for a while. In this song Crumbächer follows the changing, timeless skies with a wonder and peace that is rarely, rarely seen in the arts -- ever.

In the later Crumbächer albums, Stephen really began to show off the depth and emotional range of his piano/keyboard skills (though keyboards had always been a core part of the band's sound), and they are on full display here (the interlude, people!). Maybe Thunder Beach didn't have the harmonic virtuosity (vocals-wise) that Escape and Incandescent had, but the piano skills -- even just on this song -- make up for it.

Also, the space in the drum track opens this thing right up into something big and glorious and sweeping (again... that interlude!). Dawn's vocals are a really lovely touch. All in all, this is probably one of the loveliest songs I have ever heard -- and this is coming from a person who owns almost everything Terry Scott Taylor has ever written.

Title: Only Time
Artist: Crumbächer
Album: Thunder Beach
Year: 1987
Label: Frontline Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.

Midnight - the stars are shining
Frequencies that tease the ear
Parade across the atmosphere...

14 March 2018

Notation and Life...

I haven't notated any dance in a while. I haven't worked in any big pieces in a very long time.

This used to eat every spare second of my day. I would put off chores to notate. At work I would spend every second of downtime solidifying sequences in my head so I could notate them as soon as I got home. There was something thrilling about mixing little symbols together to create a record of a dance. It was beautiful, in a way.

But now, as I move into my mid-twenties and real life -- rent, food, counselling, training -- demands more money, I have to start either going somewhere with this or drop it and pursue something that does. And it's VERY apparent my original idea of putting together a dance company is not going to happen as soon as I hoped. I had hoped by now I would have twenty classically trained ballerinas at my disposal so I could realise works like Going Home, A Song In The Night, Rainbows, or even Sanctuary.

Unfortunately, I have only have one dancer -- me. And she's not even flexible. Strong, sure, but 'flexible' is on some other planet. Also, I choreograph WAY more complex turns than she is actually capable of.

So I've been doing tap solos because that's at least attainable in the here and now. I can make those into film projects and gather a bit of a following without the ability to developpé my leg up to my ear. (Well, I can as long as I can find a cameraperson...)

I'm trying to finish Elle G because it's been in my head for YEARS and it looks so beautiful in there, but I can't because I need to focus my time and energy on projects that have even a tiny hope of being seen. Elle G is for twenty-one (good) pointe dancers. That may not ever happen in my lifetime. So why bother creating this dance?

I don't know. I really don't know.

These are the things that discourage me.

08 March 2018


'God, why the hell am I doing this? Why am I trying so hard and failing every. single. time? Did You or did You not give me an aptitude, a gift? And if not, say it to my face. But if so, give me some indication, some encouragement. Because I am --ing DONE trying and failing. I am DONE seeing absolutely zero improvement. And I am DONE screaming for You, somebody, anybody to hear me and hearing only crickets. I am tired of being the outcast among Your so-called 'loving and welcoming' people. I am tired of being ignored and being on the --ing outside. And I am tired of having my frustration minimised and 'fixed' by everyone who is supposed to care about me. Why am I here? And why should I stay?'
-- Excerpt from my journal, one year ago today.

I wrote that following a dance practice during which my skills seemed to dissolve before my eyes -- the same as my dance practices had been going for weeks. I had already had a difficult voice practice earlier that day, I had been doubting my calling and abilities for months, and after years of dancing alone on the razor's edge around it, I finally hit the breaking point. In a fury, I sat down and wrote those words... and those words were very nearly my suicide note, the final record of my thoughts before my last breath. My church had given up on me, my friends had abandoned me, my family was too wrapped up in their own drama, and I was tired of fighting for nothing.  I had used all my energy, poured out so much of myself, and nothing had come of it.

'Today is grace. ...There was a hug. There was completely unexpected and lavish encouragement. There was Faith, and Mel, and me, being blown away.'
-- Excerpt from my journal, today.

That memory of last year weighed heavily on me this morning as I ate breakfast. It seemed heavier as I walked to school and warmed up my voice. In chapel today, they had us gather in groups of three and pray together, and I confessed that today was hard -- how I don't want to leave the darkness that I remember from last year because that's all I know and I don't trust God to take my hand and lead me to anything good beyond it. I confessed that I didn't even want to pray that.

After that I had a voice lesson. It went quite well -- my teacher grew more excited as the lesson went on. "This is what I've been hearing from you in my head for a year, but I've never heard it in real life," she said. And I had to admit that it did feel nice. Normally when I sing it feels awful. It certainly did a year ago... in my practice journal that day, I wrote, 'Why do I keep doing this when I'm so mediocre at it?' And that question haunted me for the rest of that day, through my dance practice that night, and exploded into that first journal entry.

As I walked to school this morning, a song that I had listened to over breakfast seemed to haunt me instead...
Through the tired eyes of faith
You'll see your resurrection day
Resurrection day will come
As surely as the rising sun
Death will fight a holy war
It will live no more
Love will even the score
Resurrection day...
-- With The Tired Eyes Of Faith, Swirling Eddies, 1995.

The phrase thrummed through my head as I approached the school, and all that it would hold today. Resurrection day will come / As surely as the rising sun... Resurrection day will come...

The skills I thought I had lost or would never attain are not as far gone as I feared they would be. My dream has not yet died, as I feared it would if I lived. There is still hope that maybe I won't be mediocre forever, that maybe my life will mean something to someone.

The best thing I can do
Is to clearly say
I'm thankful for today...
-- Today, Imperials, 1985.