Friday, December 25, 2009

Make Out Escalator, 10 year old lazy & other fun stories of a working woman

I haven't written a blog in 2 months and 8 days. There's a reason why.

In that time I have accumulated six jobs occupying me in some capacity at all times. Yes, you read right. SIX. They are (in the order that I acquired them): (1) babysitting, (2) front desk reception workstudy for Peridance, (3) teach adult/teen open Afro Modern class for Brooklyn Ballet, (4) operations associate at the Bodies Exhibit at South Street Seaport, (5) teach dance for the after school and teen programs at the Grosvenor Neighborhood House YMCA, (6) rehearsed and performed with VIA Dance Collaborative. Oh yes, and I still take dance class and workout as often as possible.

Working incessantly has been a test of my endurance and sanity, particularly considering my unusual living situation: Imagine your roommate belting his audition song at 3 am when you're trying to sleep before a 7:30 am alarm sounds. This is just one gem in the treasure chest of stories I've accumulated as a working woman and I'd like to share just a few more.

"The Bodies" (with a "the" added by my dear friend with a thick Long Island accent who can't believe it's actually just called Bodies) is set up so that visitors must take an escalator from the lower level box office area to the upper level lobby area and exhibition. One of the many posts an Operations Associate such as myself may be assigned is Greeter. The Greeter does just that: greets visitors, directing them to the bathroom, coat check and start of the exhibition.

Well, imagine greeting couple after couple after you've just witnessed them make out on the escalator! In fact my dutiful "Good Afternoon, Welcome to Bodies" often disrupts their longing and loving stares into each others eyes. The escalator is not enclosed so I don't quite understand why so many people feel a sense of privacy on the escalator. I mean I'm all for moderate public displays of affection, but gee wiz! At "the Bodies," WE CAN SEE YOU!

One afternoon at the YMCA I waited for my 5 pm class of 4th and 5th graders to show up. They didn't. At 5:05 their counselor shows up and announces "They aren't coming to dance today. Maybe you should talk to them."

I go down to the classroom and ask them "What's up?" To which they respond with a whole host of lame excuses: I'm wearing jeans today. I'm grounded. I have to finish my homework. I don't feel like it. "Uh huh. So, what's the real problem?" I ask. Well (I'll tell her), because of course they'd all discussed this before hand. Well... we're just too lazy. We just don't feel like doing all those stretches and exercises. It's just too much. Perplexed I pushed further, "So what would you like to do in dance class?" Well we want to do free dance! "And what is "free dance"?" You know, when you put music on and we just dance around. "Uh huh..."

I got them up to the gym with a promise of "free dance" but not without a conversation first. "So tell me exactly what I can do to make dance class better?" Well you know, it's just that we are just so tired and exhausted after school, that we just don't feel like doing so many warm ups and exercises. It's just hard and takes too much energy. "Well I can certainly modify and change some of the exercises that we do, but you know, the way to gain more strength and energy is to actually continue to practice the exercises." Nooo. No. They said definitively.

No! No? NO?! I couldn't believe that this group of 9 and 10 year-olds told me no. As if I was wrong and had no idea what I was talking about. As if everything I was ever taught in a dance, yoga, pilates, workout, and physical education class in the past 20 years was wrong. Sorry kids, I don't care how lazy you are, but I've got two degrees and a whole host of folk that will back me up when I tell you that the correct answer is Yes.

Dancing with VIA was simply a blessing. It was one of my first performance projects in NYC and just enough to remind me of what it is that I am supposed to be doing in the midst of lazy children and uninhibited museum patrons. A friend shared that seeing me dance made her want to dance, and a comment like that makes me know I am headed in the right direction. To see rehearsal video of VIA's The Seasons Project click here and to read some commentary on it click here.

I am still teaching Afro Modern technique class on Tuesday nights at Brooklyn Ballet and we have a good time every week whether there are 10 or 2 of us. Teaching this class allows me to draw from my large vocabulary of movements from Africa and the Diaspora and mix it with modern dance fundamentals. It affirms that I do indeed know how to teach dance.

The life I have chosen to lead means that this is only the beginning of the numerous gigs, projects and jobs I will take on, but like I just told my mommy, I thank God every day for my life. I am blessed. And it's all leading up to what I am made to do.

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