All of us experience untold numbers of beginnings and endings in our lives, both significant and less so. Truly, change is the only constant. Over the years, I’ve noticed a pattern in my life: change comes in bunches. I’ll go years without significant change and then boom! In the last year and a half, I have experienced the loss of a job, the end of a marriage, the loss of my home (divorce) and truck (car accident), and most recently, the loss (in a sense) of one of my best friends and creative co-conspirators, Samara, the other half of the Bijou Project.
Overwhelming? Yes. Change can be our best friend and our worst enemy. None of us grows without a few growing pains. But the benefits of all the chaos have been life lessons learned, personal growth, and of course, the flip-side of endings—happy new beginnings. When I surrendered to the change, felt the loss, and continued on, I was able to grow from it. This was true on a personal level, but also creatively in my dance.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a dance collaboration that has stood the test of time, creative evolution and distance, but even that relationship has had its share of beginnings and endings. The Bijou Project has been around since 2005 when Samara and I both lived and danced together in Bend. When she moved to Alabama in 2007, we continued to collaborate long-distance and when she moved back to Oregon the following year, our commute over the Cascade Mountains seemed pretty close. Another move and the birth of her first child, Olivia, finds her in Olympia, WA at a distance that precludes casual meet-ups.
What does the moving history of Samara have to do with anyone other than me? Well, it’s a great example of the dual effects of change. While I am sad that The Bijou Project will not be able to collaborate as often or as intensely as we once did, this change has provoked me to challenge myself creatively and given me the freedom to grow as a soloist. It has also resulted in some exciting and fulfilling new dance collaborations, such as my partnership with Leia, in Kamilia Tribal Bellydance.
Each relationship is different, brings new things to our lives, and occupies a special place in our hearts. This is especially true for dance. The Bijou Project was my first love, and as co-founder, was literally a part of me. Stylistically, it is who I am. Through this creative partnership I grew from an improvisational group dancer with ATS roots to a Tribal Fusion dancer comfortable with improvisation or choreography and solo or group dances. Until recently, this relationship has been the most influential in defining who I am as a dancer.**
As 2011 approaches, I again find myself at another creative juncture–one in which I am starting over again. The tough changes over the past couple of years have lead me to some beautiful new beginnings both personally and creatively. I’ve discovered a potential mentor and I continue my work to grow as a soloist, but at the same time I am feeling challenged and inspired as part of Kamilia Bellydance. At times adapting to change still feels difficult, or seems to pull me in conflicting directions, but in general it is exhilarating and eventually, I hope, rewarding. As Price Pritchett said, “Change always comes bearing gifts.” Sometimes, we just have to look a little harder to recognize them.
Wishing all my family and friends a new year full of the best kinds of changes!
** There are numerous other dancers who may or may not know the gifts they’ve given me and I would like to convey my gratitude here.
Local teacher and friend Sahara has asked me to answer the tough questions, provided honest feedback and encouragement, and fun combos that have guided and inspired me as a soloist.
Zweena has provided inspiration and support and was the person who first taught me how to map a song for choreography. (That was huge!)
I don’t have room for a comprehensive list, but a few of the other people who have rocked my world during the last two years through their workshops, performances and/or knowledge include: Mira Betz, Mezedulene, Rachel George, Michelle Joyce, Heather Stants, and Zoe Jakes.
This list could go on and on because there are so many dancers who inspire me, but reflecting on the past two years, this seems like a good representation of people who have left an indelible imprint on my creative center. Thank you!