Monday, October 5, 2015

Do you HAVE what you NEED?

I had an amazing conversation the other night -- 

I was talking with a friend about the premise of our new work BodyBusiness. I shared how the work commences with a marketplace, and her eyes lit up. 

"The marketplace is a crossroads," she began. "A meeting place." That made me smile. It made me think about walking down 125th street on a warm day, where vendors line the street from Morningside to Madison Ave. There, you hear the sounds of old school R&B and folks are selling everything from t-shirts and tie-dye, wax print fabrics and thrift clothing items to old albums, shea butter and oils, craft jewelry and more. There is the drumming circle on the plaza in front of the state building. And how many times while walking the street do I run into my neighbors, friends and colleagues? The best is when I see my students, particularly the babies, who can't fathom Ms. Sydnie as a person on the street. To them, I'm just the crazy dancing lady in their school. It's in those moments that I feel most connected to my neighborhood and the many communities I belong to within that neighborhood.

I hadn't thought of the word crossroads to characterize the marketplace, but that feeling is exactly what I am trying to capture in our performance space. Thinking of the marketplace in terms of pathways and meetings, connections and exchanges makes sense of every section where the dancers are walking, finding their way in, around and through one another. It gives intention for every moment that they meet, and what they can build together when they meet again.

photo credit: Whitney Browne Photography

I can't remember when or how I got this idea about the marketplace, but I know that as soon as it occurred, I was committed to it. I wanted to create a space so that no matter who you are, when you leave this performance, you leave with something you need (though if you are a dance artist working in NYC, this is especially for you). I wanted to create a space that brought together all the resources that I have worked hard to seek out in the past 6 years: (1) as an artist who wanted to build her own creative enterprise and (2) as an artist who had (has?) little-to-no personal financial resources and no family wealth to rely on in order to live. I even wanted to create space that encourages us to more consciously spend -- when we spend our money on things that we want, let's invest in people and businesses whose values we share, and whose successful entrepreneurship makes space for us to be successful with our own. 

The marketplace is a space and means for livelihood. It is the place that you can offer what you have to give - what you've been growing and making and collecting and organizing. I'm so happy to be collaborating with Ladies Love Project who locate the marketplace in a cultural context for black and brown women. For them the marketplace "introduces a model for all women to pay homage to market life around the globe as a staple of community building, and of starting your own independent business."

photo credit: Whitney Browne Photography
Shifting focus to starting an independent business - or recognizing that as a freelance artist, you are your own business - is the biggest aim of the workThe BodyBusiness marketplace, this crossroads where we meet and offer what we have so others can get what they need is a space where we are empowered. Stating and offering what we have is a statement of our value that doesn't need to be proven. There is so much abundance among us, and so much of building our collective wealth is recognizing that. This dance is a practice in standing in our power.

I can't wait for the magic of each night of the marketplace to occur. I am literally giddy every time we confirm a new vendor. If you have something to offer in this space that would enrich and sustain the lives of artists in NYC, please let me know! And if you need something dancers, I hope you find it at BodyBusiness.

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