The Unexpected Upgrade

Today I have a special guest here on the blog, my head coach, Danielle Beckmann!  An actress, producer, podcast host of the popular Brooklyn Quarter, and all around incredible artist, she is a powerhouse helping our clients to go full time with their art. Today, she’s here for you to share how she took a highly embarrassing situation and turned it into am amazing opportunity:)  Enjoy!

“You’ve just been upgraded.”

Ahhh, what sweet music to the ears!

We all love upgrades, don’t we?

Imagine a moment where you’re about to fly cross country and the gate attendant tells you you’ve been upgraded at no extra cost. Nothing. Nada. All you have to do is stand there and accept this first-class gift.

What do you do?
Do you accept it freely and smile, sit in your comfy seat and order a mimosa?
Or do you fumble, stutter, and make excuses while delaying the check-in line?

Really, what would you do, <<First Name>>?

I have found that sometimes as artists we are so consumed with giving our gifts to the world that it’s hard for us to accept a free gift when it comes our way.

But what if free gifts were a regular thing? 

What if it was possible to receive a gift and accept it with deep joy and gratitude–no strings attached?

I very recently had to put this concept into action in my own life. One month ago I had the privilege of attending the 73rd Annual Tony Awards. I was chosen to be a volunteer seat filler at the prestigious show, and when the day finally came, I couldn’t have been more excited.

I joined the buzzing crowd filing into Radio City Music Hall and sat in the back of the orchestra to receive instructions. As I went to take my comfortably velvety seat, I heard a ‘reeeeeep’ and suddenly felt the fabric of my dress give way.

Something was not right. After feeling around and assessing the situation, I found out the awful truth: my vintage dress had ripped. And this was not a small rip. It was a 6 inch rip right up the center back seam of my dress.

All the negative thoughts flooded my mind:
“How am I going to stand up and sit down all night filling seats for celebrities in this condition!?”
“This is so embarrassing!”
“Can everyone see my spanx!? Will Bryan Cranston see my spanx!?!?”

After this moment of upset and overwhelm, I took a breath and something magical happened. I started to giggle. And the giggles turned into chuckling, and the chuckling turned into laughing.

I took another big, deep breath and surrendered to the night. Wherever it wanted to take me, whatever it wanted to say to me, I was game. I surrendered and decided to go with the flow.

Moments before the pre-show began, I was placed in a third row seat next to Laura Linney, Jeff Daniels, and Michael Kors. Before I knew it, James Corden was on stage, and the show had begun! At each commercial break I anticipated the signal from an usher to tell me to give up my seat…but it never happened. They never moved me. Apparently the person who was supposed to sit in Row CC Seat 509 couldn’t make it. I ended up sitting in the third row for the entire evening!

I got to soak in the energy, the talent, and the vibrancy of the awards, including the quirky moments during commercial breaks. I saw friends on stage, and friends in the audience too.The surrender led to flow and the flow led me to a place I never imagined. And where did I find myself?
Receiving an upgrade.

And, boy, did I take it gratefully!

If you feel stagnant and out of place in your artistic journey, as if your metaphorical dress has ripped, I want to encourage you: keep persevering, keep showing up.

Examine the places you are stuck, take a deep breath, and surrender them one step at a time today.


It might just lead you to an upgrade you weren’t expecting.

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