Me and My Life (Profesh and Unprofesh)

It is profoundly weird and disorienting having summer end and no set structure to go back to. On the other hand, I’m starting to piece together a structure for my post-grad life, and I’m pretty thrilled with some of the pieces! Here’s what’s up with me:

(As usual, you can check the news page of my website for details and a constant supply of self-promotion.)

The internets:

  • First off, I finally gave in and got an Instagram (@nadiainherownworld) after years of avoiding it for no particular reason! I look forward to expanding my skill set by wasting time in ways other than Facebook. I mean networking.

Day-ance

  • I’m really excited to be a part of Gotham Dance Theater, and we’ve recently begun rehearsals for the fall season!
  • In other performance news, I will be dancing in a piece by Joe Monteleone as part of Amalgamate Dance Company’s Guest Artist Showcase! The performance, which also includes work by Douglas Gillespie, Tiffany Mills, and Joya Powell, will be September 17.
  • It still feels way too warm to be hearing snow music, but we’ve begun rehearsals for Giada Ferrone’s Nutcracker NYC: A Contemporary Ballet. Performances December 8 and 9!
  • I recently joined Artery, a platform for hosting/performing at/finding pop-up showcases, and it has been one of my favorite things ever. Basically, I have been improvising solos at various rooftop showcases alongside amazing singers, musicians, dancers, and visual artists, and getting to know some wonderful, supportive people.
    • Stay tuned: my roommates and I are looking to organize an all improv showcase before it gets too cold: all improv, any genre (music, dance, theater, comedy, etc.)

But also…

  • I’m a tutor, office assistant, hopefully soon-to-be dance teaching assistant, and barista-in-training.
  • At the moment, I am also a deeply congested  and foggy person.
  • Yesterday, I got on a train in the wrong direction, spaced out, and drifted to Queens. Clearly, my brain is killing it.
  • I tried trimming my hair with a comb-thing which, from the Amazon reviews, seems to be mostly used by people with long-haired cats. Although I am not exactly the same as as a long-haired cat, I figured that we have enough similarities. It worked pretty well.
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Dancing on Roofs to Radiolab

I’ve been spending most of the past week or so at City Center Studios learning and rehearsing Merce Cunningham repertory, which by the way, is a physical tongue twister and an equation and a calve killer and a dance history lesson all at the same time (one might even say we are im-Merce-d *knee slap*). I’m really excited to show what we’ve been working on at the showing on Friday (there will be a live stream too, so check the Cunningham Trust streaming page at 4:30pm!)

But last Friday night, I took my dancing back downtown for a different sort of performance experience, improvising at a rooftop showcase organized by Artery, alongside three other captivating musicians and dancers.

When planning for this show, I was in the process of moving apartments and didn’t have the wifi access to do my usual music search. I considered just dancing to whatever was on my phone–and then realized that mostly included a bunch of NPR Radiolab episodes (I’ve been commuting a lot lately).

My friends immediately told me to go with it, and I did–smashing a few episodes together and throwing in some Gwen Stefani and some of my own sound effects.

Here’s what resulted: let’s call it a little study on curiosity, words, and fear.

A Straightforward Update Post: Nadia Does Things

I’ve recently crossed the post-grad threshold between “nothing is happening” and “why is everything happening at the same time?” and thought I was due for a standard life update blog post. This feels much more straightforward and somewhat more self-promotional than what I normally do here, but hey, I promise I’ll be back with the rambly feel-pieces you know and tolerate soon enough.

As usual, the news page on my website will have all the self-promotional deets.

Right now:

  • I’m in my last weekend of performances of “Genesis 22” with the Woolgatherers Theater Group on Governor’s Island. It’s an immersive piece with six directors showing their various re-interpretations (theater, dance, funny, serious, and everything in-between) of a biblical story. I’m a dancey version of Isaac who finds myself some crazy partnering and ends up with audience members covering me in candles.
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Photo by Nathan Luttrull and Jan Paulo Musni. Choreography by Caedra Scott-Flaherty.

One of the most challenging things about immersive theater, I’m realizing, is repetition. We repeat our 20 minute piece four times during each performance, as audience members explore and cycle through the different rooms. Not only is this physically demanding, but it also requires that we bring a similar focus and energy to each run–whether it happens to be in a near-empty room or filled with vocal group of 8-year-olds from a summer camp on the island. However, it’s also a chance to really dig into one piece of material and discover new things each time.

More Dancey Things Coming Up That Have Me Pumped:

  • The day after our last show on the island, I’m jumping right in to a performance workshop with the Merce Cunningham Trust. We’ll be training in Cunningham technique and re-staging Cunningham’s 1973 work “Changing Steps” for a performance on August 11.
  • The week after that, on August 18 I’ll be performing in a piece with Trainor Dance at the Battery Dance Festival.

New things starting up:

  • I recently joined Dance/NYC’s Junior Committee, a group of young professionals with various roles in the dance field who come together to discuss relevant social and economic issues. I’m one of the communications coordinators, and we’re looking for ways to use our blog and social media to expand give these discussions a public platform and wider visibility.

Particularly as I am primarily pursuing performance right now, I want to reject the expectation that performers are just silent, voiceless bodies to be used. I’m clearly too opinionated for that, so I’m excited to have a space where I can have a voice and create platforms for more voices in the dance community to be heard.

  • I’m just starting writing for Reductress.com, my favorite source of ironically faux-feminist satire! I always thought that puns and sarcasm would end up being my marketable skills.

Stuff that keeps going:

  • I continue to be a dance class junky and love meeting other dance class junkies of various persuasions, so I’m having a great time taking class in a variety of styles through Mark Morris Dance Center’s work-study program.
  • Generating income is hard. I’m looking for tutoring demand to start picking up as kiddos head back to school.

Between the profesh stuff…

  • As you may have noticed from the previous picture, I have significantly less hair now, and I love it!

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  • My sister popped in last weekend to go to a Mashrou’ Leila concert with me (if you don’t know them, they are a socially-concious Lebanese alt-rock group with dope music videos that you should check out). It was both amazing and perhaps the gayrab-est thing I have been to. I tried really hard to get them to sign my shoe and barely failed.
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So close though.

  • I’m trying to move apartments at the end of this month! Fortunately, I don’t have that much stuff (it’s not “minimalism,” it’s just not having much stuff).

On my personal project back-burner: 

  • A dance film called “Neutral Pelvis” (Can pelvises really be neutral though, ya know?)
  • A sorta-historical essay about the role of White Jesus in legal race construction

 

Keeping Stuff Separate (Normal People Edition)

Sometimes I am shocked and fascinated by how cleanly compartmentalized many people’s lives seem to be:

You go to work, which is something you do for money and not fun. You are paid based on what you can do and how good you are at it, which is unrelated to who you are and how good of a person you are.

And work hours are for working hard and shouldn’t be squandered on chatting or joking or mindwandering or checking social media. Work is payed precisely because there are other things you’d rather be doing.

But there is no reason to check your work email or plan out your latest project after hours. Don’t squander your free time–you’re not being paid.

Of course you are a fun person with recreational interests, which are enjoyable and relaxing. There is no reason for these interests to be a source of intense effort or stress, because they are not your job.

And of course you care about being good, so you siphon off some money (and maybe even some time) from the regular part of your budget to donate to charity. You get reminders for this kind of stuff once or twice a year, so its no big deal if you forget the rest of the time.

And obviously you have a personal life too: you should expect to fall in love by going on dates in which you meet for the purpose of mutually evaluating each other as sexual and romantic prospects. These people should ideally have no other significance in your life outside this context, though the goal is that they become your most significant other

And though they should be ideally be people with whom you share similar values and enjoy being around, they should never be compared to “friends,” a category of people who belong in a completely discrete zone.

And don’t bring up politics on a date, because that’s not part of polite conversation. What’s politics got to do with love?

And certainly don’t bring up your love life in a pollitical context, because that’s vulgar and inappropriate. What’s love got to do with politics?

And obviously, don’t talk about love or politics at work. These things are of no professional relevance.

You should care about serious issues like violence and discrimination, of course. It is important to make time each evening to stay updated on such issues, so that when the occasion calls for it, you can voice your concerns in such somber, sober conversations. There are no jokes and no smiling in these talks. How insensitive could you be to discuss big, serious issues as if they were everyday problems?

And the rest of the time, don’t be a downer who brings up race or bombs in fun, casual conversations. Such big, serious issues have no place in everyday life. You shouldn’t have to think about those things when you’re not trying to think about them.

Your body is relevant insofar as it is a sexual object or a subject of medical interest. You dedicate maybe an hour each day to intentionally rigorous physical exertion for those reasons. The rest of the time you can mostly disregard your material existence. (If it gives you aggressive signals to pay attention to it, there are ways to drown that out.)

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I assume that this all makes perfect sense to plenty of people. Personally, compartmentalization has never been my strength.

Lately I’ve been questioning the implications of pursuing artistic careers in which the lines between professional, personal, and pollitical are pretty nonexistent. On one hand, it seems much more natural to me to be living life as an interconnected whole. And I’m really lucky to have the opportunity to do that (or at least try).

On the other hand, when you get your professional ambitions, artistic passion, pollitical expression, personal relationships, physical and emotional health, and income all hopelessly tied up in one another, it seems terrifyingly easy to let one of them pull the others out of whack.

There are advantages to keeping stuff separate, I guess.

So What Am I Actually Doing?

If you follow me on this blog and not in real life, you probably have picked up on the fact that I am no longer in college. You know that I continue to have feelings and thoughts and jokes which I post on the internet. But perhaps you are wondering: what is this Nadia person actually doing with her life?

Well I am starting have some answers!

I’m incredibly pumped to have some performances lined up in the near future! You can check out the “News” page on my website for full descriptions, locations, and times.

In slightly less performative news, I am also tutoring, doing the work/study program at Mark Morris Dance Center, working as an office assistant for a psychotherapist, and continuing to write stuff (hopefully some of which will get published).

A Cynical Queer Killjoy’s Mixed Feelings on the Rainbow Machine

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It’s June, which means that cynical, nerdy, political queer killjoys are spending the month rolling their eyes at the shiny whitewashed respectability spectacle of corporate-sponsored pride celebrations. I would know—I’m one of them.

But sometimes I fall off my high horse and remember: I didn’t start out thinking like this. Not even close.

When I sigh at the rainbow-themed sneakers and laptop ads popping up around the city, unimpressed with corporations’ willingness to co-opt symbols of a successful liberation movement now that it has been deemed more profitable than not.

But I also remember living in a time and place when public support of LGBT rights was more of a business liability than a strategy, and think of how much tweenage angst I could have avoided had I seen rainbow-plastered shoe stores then.

Read the rest on HuffPost

The Case Against Dreams

Since graduation, people have increasingly been asking me what my dream jobs, dream companies, and dreams for the future are. Which is leading me to realize that I no longer have any. And I say that in the most optimistic way possible.

Dreams are made of ideas alone, floating in a weightless world with no bodies to bump up against them and shake them off course. So they go in straight lines, mostly just up.

But try to follow a dream in a world of matter, and things get far more twisted. You’ll hit walls and laws and ceilings, and have to recalculate your route to dodge, climb, or break them. When your ideas spill onto the scene and cause reactions, they’ll fizzle and change colors and explode, until you can barely recognize what you started with. You’ll collect dirt and leave a trail of elaborate curlicues as you spin your way into places you never planned to see.

And at some point, you’re likely to find that you and the dream have left each other’s sights. You might scan your surroundings, looking for another nearby dream to start your next game of obstacle-tag. It’s a game that can keep you moving for a lifetime, if that’s your thing.

Lately though, I’ve become more inclined to let those naked ideas float by as I turn my sights downward for inspiration, following the landscape of reality itself.

People say that dreams are about imagination, but when I listen to most of their dreams, the scope of possibilities is far more square and narrow than anything reality could devise. In those dreams, you know that the good guys win, and the girl marries the boy and stays that way, and success comes in windfalls and stays that way, and matter is different from energy and stays that way, and everything happens for a reason.

Some people get so caught up in those limited dream-worlds that their imaginations shrink to that scope. And with imaginations so narrow, they can’t envision the full range of reality, even as it stands right in front of them.

If you want your brain to buzz with things you never dreamed possible, try really exploring reality. Run your fingers into the crevices you used to step over, and trace the wrinkled pathways all the way out to the fringes. Look close at the frayed and jagged edges. (Truth be told, it’s all rather broken and messed-up, but so are most things worth spending time with. So are most things I love.) Now stand on the edges, and look at it from far away.

Once, I dreamed I could just spread my arms and fly. So I started running and jumping and falling and building to try and get up there. Until I was just running and jumping and falling and building to get somewhere. So far, that has been remarkably more interesting.

just say no

Okay, this is a bit extreme.