Effortless Inspiration

What lights you up?

What inspires you and just makes smile wide, wide, WIDE?

What brings you JOY?
What makes you want to go out into the sunshine and just DANCE?

As Artists it is so vital we have joy in our work.  We have so much on our plate! We have to think about,
Promo
Social Media
Classes
Submissions
Booking gigs

And then somewhere in all of this is the actual CREATION.

This is the FUN part.
This is the juice!

So, how do we stay connected to the JOY when we are mired in all the to-do’s of being an Artist in today’s DIY industry?  How does our Art not feel like just another JOB?

Especially when we are juggling side hustles!  No more jobs, please!

Do you ever feel like this?

The magic sauce for Joy is in one simple word:
Inspiration

And it’s a vital ingredient for going Full Time and having a long and fulfilling career.

Last weekend I felt Joy.
Last weekend I smiled wide wide WIDE.
Last weekend I wanted to bound outside and just DANCE all over NYC.

The reason?

Seeing the Mark Morris Dance Group perform their latest premiere, Pepperland.

Set to the Beatles infamous Sergeant Pepper album, the dancers exploded on the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s stage in vibrant costumes.

What really struck me was the jazz interpretation of the album.  Ethan Iverson, one of Time Out New York’s 25 essential jazz icons, created this original score based off the Beatles songs.  Sometimes they were recognizable, sometimes they were so off the wall!  It was so innovative.  They had a full jazz orchestra and a classical baritone singing.

Not what you would expect, right?
And that’s the why it was so inspirational.

Somehow, Mark Morris and Ethan Iverson had taken this iconic album and given it a completely NEW interpretation.

I remember the first time I was introduced to Mark Morris.  I was in high school and saw The Hard Nut, his version of The Nutcracker.

It blew my mind.

Not only was the whole piece set in the groovy 60’s, but there was cross casting, and the snow dance was all done by men in tutu’s exploding hand fulls of glitter into the air. This was not the traditional Nutcracker I had danced in, or seen over and over on TV during the holidays.  It was so new.

And I was inspired.

So much so, I created my own ballet version of Hans Andersen’s The Little Match Girl for my senior project in high school.

The Little Match Girl was one of my favorite stories my mother used to read to me as a little girl.  It was a classic, and seeing what Mark Morris did gave me the courage and also the inspiration to put my spin on something that had brought me such joy as a child.

So, sitting in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House last weekend, all that joy came flooding back in.  I as in awe of what this team of incredible artists from the dancers to the choreographer to the composer to the lighting designer created off of their love of the Beatles.

Their inspiration.

It was a ripple effect…the domino from one artist to another to another to another.

So, what about you?
What inspires you?

It can be so easy to fall into believing we have to come up with original material ALL the time.  This can be an immense amount of pressure and I have seen so many artists get stuck, and actually never complete work because it’s just not good enough, or someone else is doing it.

Have you ever felt this?

But here’ s the gift.

As Artists, we are translators.

This is the super power we all have.

We look at the world around us, and translate it into our medium, whether that is
writing
dance
visual art
music
sculpture

And ALL of this translation comes from a source…it comes from our inspiration.

And we have an endless flow within us.

Memories
Favorite songs
Artists we love….

It’s all there, waiting for you.

And NO one else will translate it like you, because there is only one you.

In a way, you’ve already won in this world because you’re the only one who can be you.”
-Fred Rogers

This is why Art is so powerful.

When I was leaving the theatre, the gentleman in front of me said,
Oh I loved this!  They were skipping!  Who skips anymore?  This makes me think of my grandchildren.

His inspiration.

One of the most important relationships you can have is with your own inspiration.
Get intimate with what lights you up.

Because when you do, you will tap into this endless flow with ease.

Come out into the sunshine and dance.
Your audience is waiting.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

The Secret to Raving Fans

Have you ever wondered what the REAL secret is with having raving fans?

Have you ever seen people absolutely foaming at the mouth for the next piece of art from their favorite Artist and questioned,
How come that’s not happening to me?

These audiences are lining up around the block for the next,
Bruno Mars concert ticket
Game of Thrones book
Hamilton Broadway ticket
Entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Louvre
Release of the latest Harry Potter….

You scratch your head as you look at another lukewarm reception to your latest release, or random clapping to your performance and go,
WHAT the HECK?!

How do Artists have these massive followings on Instagram?
How do Artists sell out their concerts?
How do Artists get top dollar for their original work?
How do Artists make it to the NY Times Bestseller List?

Because, at the root of the question is,
I’m working so hard, why isn’t this happening for ME?

Super frustrating, right?

I hear you.  I felt the same way.  I was killing myself with dance classes, voice lessons, meeting casting directors, having perfect head shots and eye-catching audition outfits…and yet I hit a ceiling.

My talent was not reflecting my audience.  There was a disconnect.  For my level, I should have been CHOOSING between different Broadway shows….and yet, I couldn’t make it past final callbacks to even book ONE.

Have you ever felt this?
What do we do in this moment?

How do we turn it around and truly receive the acclaim we desire?

How does our effort and talent actually equate to a thriving career and raving fans that support, cherish and love us?

 

This past weekend I went to see one of my closest friends, Lisa, present her MFA Thesis project at Martha Graham Studios.  The culmination of two years of work, I couldn’t wait.

Lisa is one of the top jazz teachers in NYC, and I take her class weekly.  She’s a real anomaly in the dance world, as she specializes in technical jazz.  So much of the classical jazz form in dance has been watered down, and Lisa has really stayed more true to the art, keeping it very technical and clean.  It’s solid, and I always leave sweating, strong, and smiling. And I’m never alone….

She has a packed class every week.  She has students that come back, regulars who have been taking her for years, and because of her class they are booking company work and theater gigs. We are FANS, plain and simple.

So, it’s no surprise to know that when Lisa’s MFA Thesis performance piece was over, the whole audience leapt to their feet, shouting and screaming.  The dancers were glowing, Lisa was beaming, and we all felt fabulous.

But Lisa was not the only choreographer to present her work that night.  She was actually second, and the first performance was beyond painful.

I actually wanted to walk out.

How can this be possible?
Two choreographers going through the same program, and yet one created a desire to leave, and the other had me on my feet ready for more?

And it all comes down to ONE thing:
Connection.

On the first piece, the choreographer (who also danced in the piece) was literally having a temper tantrum on stage.  At one point she was gasping and screaming in circles on the ground, and all I could think was,
Do you care I am here?

What was Missing?
CONNECTION TO THE AUDIENCE.

I felt completely disconnected watching her piece.  I felt completely in the dark about what was really going on, but most of all, I felt she didn’t CARE whether or not I was involved.

And I was not alone.  When her piece awkwardly ended, there was barely any clapping.  Hands barely met, as I imagine everyone was confused.

Will I return to see this choreographer’s work again?
No.

Will the rest of the audience?
I doubt it.

Why?
We were not included in the performance.
We were on the outside.

Her piece was purely about her, her rage, and her pain.  It literally was akin to a two year old having a tantrum to say, ME ME ME!  As a new choreographer, she made a mistake I see Artists of all ages make again and again,
they FORGET to include their audience.
They forget about the WE.

Because honestly, there is no Artist without an Audience, and there is no Audience without an Artist.  It’s a relationship. It goes TWO ways.

So, why did Lisa’s piece receive a standing ovation?
We were included.  Energetically, physically, in every way…..and that translates to raving fans.

And trust me, I GET the desire to express rage.  In fact, some of the most powerful work happening right now is dealing with very dark issues, like depression, inequality, racism, and bullying.

Dear Evan Hansen, speaking into bullying, is THE top ticket on Broadway right now, and it’s extremely dark….but the difference comes in the HOW. The difference comes in YOUR intention.

The writers of Dear Evan Hansen are looking to raise awareness around this topic, they are looking to ENGAGE the audience, and ask powerful questions so that they then go into the world and make new choices.

People leave inspired, not shut down.

Because, let’s be honest……we don’t need more isolation.

We don’t need more messages telling us we are alone, no one cares, and we don’t matter.  People, YOUR AUDIENCE is starving for connection.  In a world where communication seems to mostly happen electronically, where we find out our friends challenges through a social media platform, where the next generation has lost the ability to have a face to face conversation when they are scared…..

Art matters.
Art is a catalyst.

It allows our audience to access their emotions in a way nothing else does.

So, take a moment and ask yourself:
Are you connecting with your Audience?
Are you including them in your Work?
Are you engaging with them?

And most of all…what is your INTENTION?

Is it to connect or isolate?

 

Be clear on WHY you are creating in the first place.  If you are receiving lukewarm applause, come back to center, and back to square one.

Come out of isolation.

Set your intention to connect and include them.  Engage with them, and learn what they NEED.  Learn what they WANT, and then partner together.

This is a relationship.  Cultivate it with love and mutual understanding.

They come to you starved, feed them, and in doing so, feed yourself.

Open the loop and let them in.