Why Didn’t Anyone Tell me about… Spotify

spotify

I mean, I knew I could listen to music and make playlists on Spotify. But $10 a month and I can play on any device and also even without an internet connection. Are you serious?

You guys should have told me.

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September Shorts: Care and Communication

Ways I’m caring for myself, my home, my career this month:

barre and gyrotonic/gyrokinesis workouts
dance classes
cleaning (? well, I try)
grocery shopping (you gotta eat)
cleaning up my photo and music files
vitamins
scheduling my yearly wellness exam

People I’m talking to/meeting with/and thanking this month:

our board of directors of FurtherDance Fort Worth
our board officers
my team teachers at ACBA
my team teachers at Kids Who Care
my Grandparents (birthdays!)
wonderful FurtherDance contributors and participants (thank yous!)

September Shorts: Consume

You have to consume in order to create. There is not output without the proper input.

Here’s what I’m consuming this month:

social media (ie, Blogs, my facebook and Twitter feed, instagram)

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my to read pile (which consists of a pointe shoe book, an already outdated issue of Fort Worth, Texas magazine, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, and Still Writing, a book on creativity. I have not gotten very far on this pile but I’ll be travelling over the next few weeks so I’m hoping to get a bit further)

Dance Performances! I’ve seen 2 this month already and could literally fill this month’s weekends if I was able. So glad to live in a place where I have so many opportunities to see great work!

my training manual for barre classes

HBOGo and Netflix (we can’t wait for Parks and Rec season 6 to be available on September 26 and currently we’re watching Big Love since our current HBO favorites- Veep, Girls, and Silicon Valley- are on hiatus).

The Bible (I’m on a year long reading plan)

Spotify (for choreography music choices as well as class playlists)

B12 vitamins

Coffee

What are you consuming this month?

September Shorts: Create

You know about the way I structure my to do list.

Now to share with you some things I’m creating this month.

Lesson Plans
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I teach 3-4 ballet classes/week, 3-4 contemporary classes/week, and I’m training to teach at a local barre studio. All my lessons go in this notebook which has become my new best friend.

Blog Posts

Duh.

Social Media Content/Strategy

For myself but also for the organization I direct. Buffer is my friend.

Choreography

My new work premieres in December. It’s unlike anything I’ve made before- or I assume it will be since I’m not exactly finished creating the movement- but it will be part of a larger work with 2 other choreographers and in the round. So that’s new for me!

Meeting Agendas

For the aforementioned organization. This takes surprisingly more effort but is crucial for a productive meeting.

Meal Plans

Takes way more brain space than I would like but if it’s not done I end up eating Chick Fil A, Chipotle, and Panda Express all week. If anyone has any suggestions for streamlining this… please tell me!

What are you creating this month?

September Shorts: How I Structure My To Do List

When I have things to do for the week (or, in a particularly busy time, for the day) I divide them into 4 categories:

1) Create

Do I have to make this thing? Do I have to write, plan, assemble this thing? Does it require a lot of output of brain energy to do this? Then it goes on my create list.  Things on my create list generally need to be allotted 1 hour or more of my time, uninterrupted.

2) Consume

What  am I consuming? What is on my list that requires me to take in new information? What informs what I’m creating right now? These things go on my consume list, and can be caught up on in the margins of my day; 15 minutes here and there.

3) Communication

Who do I need to talk to/contact/thank? Who should I be checking in with about that thing? Are there any meetings I should take? Again, this can be done on the fly (in 5-15 minutes), but if I have a particularly long list of communication to dos, then I often wrangle all of those into a larger chunk of time, usually before 7AM.

4) Care

Grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, scheduling repairs, cleaning bathrooms. Must get done, might be time consuming, but require little thought? Then it’s on my care list.

Would this differentiation of your to do list work for you?

How I evaluate talent

If you got here and thought I was going to tell you how to evaluate the people you want to hire… errr, sorry, this title is misleading.

Here’s what I AM talking about: I see someone doing something they’re good at. A professional dancer, singer, actor, stand-up comic, writer whatever. And even if I don’t know much about their field, here’s how I know if it’s good.

Am I inspired to try my hand at their talent, and I am CONVINCED that I would be good at doing exactly what they’re doing. Because they make it look so fun and so easy.

So after watching that video I’m sure I could be a prima ballerina. It’s really just a matter of practice. Also, after watching Aziz Ansari’s stand-up special, I’m POSITIVE I could be the next great female comic. I only have to read an excerpt of Anne Lamott’s work to be convinced that writing a memoir is as simple as writing my thoughts down every moment of the day. I watch The Voice and I’m pretty sure I could be on it, and I have completely convinced myself that if Emma Stone met me, we would not only be best friends but she would also convince the director of her next movie that she’s found the perfect co-star (um, me, are you not following?) to play her scrappy sidekick best friend in the upcoming romantic comedy.

Anyway, that’s how I know that someone’s good at what they do. If I decide that I could probably do it. Yes, this is remarkably self-centered. Welcome to my blog.

Have you “found” something?

I’m working with a small group to start a new arts organization here in my city. I keep referring to myself as a “founder” or “founding member,” and it’s gotten me thinking about that word, “founder.”

Isn’t it interesting? Companies, countries, organizations, initiatives. They all have founders.

Something has to be found. The ideas, concepts, values… they already exist! You just have to discover it, uncover it. You just have to find it!

There’s a lot of pressure as a creative person to do all the creating, and that’s important.

But sometimes you just find it instead. Sure, you might polish it up, assemble it, rearrange it, optimize it.

But the wheel’s always existed. No one made it. They just found it.

What have you found (or founded) lately?

When your friend discovers this awesome piece of pop culture and you get unnecessarily excited about it

Leslie Knope EW article
Photo of a portion of an article by Karen Valby in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly

Recently a friend, well, a college acquaintance, of mine posted on Facebook that she had just watched the first episode of Dawson’s Creek on Netflix and now that she knows the ENTIRE SERIES is available she doesn’t plan to leave the house or shower until she finishes it.

You guys, she was about to experience the WONDER that is James Van Der Beek and Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson (and, in later years Busy Phillips) in the greatest roles of their lives. She didn’t even know! I was inexplicably and indescribably excited for her. I couldn’t stop thinking about how lucky she was to experience all the plot twists, and teacher student affairs, and wait, is Jack gay???? for the first time.

AND THEN! this same acquaintance posted a photo of a Harry Potter book on Instagram and mentioned that she would be starting that for the first time this year as a part of her bucket list. Again, I was crying over the joy that she was about to experience.

Perhaps if my husband reads this he’ll understand the happiness that he’s keeping from me by not reading Harry Potter or the Divergent or Hunger Games trilogy or OMG Fault in Our Stars AT LEAST (because that’s only ONE book, just commit to ONE book, babe! Not asking for Twilight here).

And my joy doesn’t stop at friends, my husband, or acquaintances. I also delight in the idea that a COMPLETE STRANGER might enjoy something that I truly love for the first time. That picture at the top of the page is an excerpt from an Entertainment Weekly article where Karen Valby writes about escaping all the pop culture tweets and commentary by ignoring what is hot right now (at the time, Scandal tweeting, HIMYM finale bashing, and OMG how could you The Good Wife??) by immersing yourself completely in something that you know is awesome but that you’ve never consumed. Her suggestions include the entire series (so far) of Parks and Recreation (co-sign), Friday Night Lights, and The West Wing.

But I really posted the photo because of the last paragraph, rewritten here in case you’re having a hard time reading it in the photo:

“The other day my 5-year-old daughter asked me the most wonderful question: “Mom, have you ever heard of a boy named Harry Potter?” I had indeed, I told her. I’ve never read the JK Rowling series, but when I became a mother I bought the entire collection in hardcover. This summer, I’ll read Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone to her each night before she falls asleep. I hear we’re in for a treat.”

You guys. Karen Valby and her daughter are reading this book right now! I have no idea who they are, but I AM SO EXCITED FOR THEM. Oh, the magical, wonderful journey they are about to embark on! A few months ago when I first read the article, I literally (yes, I’m using the word literally correctly, and not ironically when I should be using figuratively… LITERALLY) cried tears of joy. And I think that in that moment I might have wanted to have a child just so I could also have this magical experience again. (and that is the last we’ll speak of that. no I am not pregnant).

Side Note: I realize I’m basically relaying a scene from The Vow. But I don’t care. Also, if you haven’t seen The Vow, good for you. There are so many better representations of Mr. Tatum’s and Ms. McAdams’ work.

So please friends. When you watch a new show or  read a new book that you know is going to be utterly amazing, please share it with me so that I can cry tears of joy and feel that amazing happiness of high of “YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW GOOD YOUR LIFE IS ABOUT TO GET!”

Do you get this way when people discover something you think is awesome?

30 things: choreograph a new work

30 things before 30

As you may know, I’ve made a list of 30 things that I want to do before I’m 30. Some are silly, some are hard, some are super easy, but no matter, they make for great fodder for the blog and for life!

Number 23 on my list is choreograph a new work.

I have been choreographing since I was 10 or 11. There is a GREAT version of Jellicle Cats that premiered in my parent’s basement in 1998.

I made my first major dance in high school (a neo-classical ballet to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue because there is NO BETTER PIECE OF AMERICAN MUSIC EVER!), and then continued to go nuts in college as a dance major and major movement nerd.

And then I traveled for 3 years and made nothing.

But now I’m dancing in 2 different local companies, teaching for 2 different studio/programs, substitute teaching, and hoping that I can somehow add an inch to my hamstrings so that I can keep doing this without embarrassing myself.

I digress.

So I needed to make something new. And ideally, I will make lots of new things, but for now, I’m just glad I made something.

I have no proof. I don’t have photos. I don’t have videos. But it was a nice 3 minute dance that my students performed at a professional benefit concert.

IT HAPPENED ok!? I wasn’t thinking about the blog when it happened and how if you don’t have a photo it didn’t happen.

But anyway, just take my word for it. Number 23. Check.

In the end, just be really good

I was listening to an archived episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Nerdist, a few months ago. Their guest was Aziz Ansari. Aziz is pretty awesome because he is Tom Haverford and he knows how to TREAT YO SELF! Also, he is a stand up comedian.

Anyway, the idea that Aziz shared on the podcast that sticks with me the most is this (paraphrased by me) :

Just be really good.

He was responding to a fan who wanted to know how to leverage Twitter to help him become a more successful comedian. I think the actual question was something like “What are your Twitter secrets to help me in my comedy.”

And Aziz, who is semi-frequently active on Twitter, just said, “Don’t worry about Twitter. Just get really good at comedy.”

It’s true that today you can’t really ignore social media, your Klout score, your online presence, or those wonderful things you do to pad your resume (thought I try to ignore ALL those things at time), but none of that matters if you’re not really good at what you do.

So just get good.

And then tweet about it.