My Plans

Let’s start with what I know…

I want to be a dancer and then go into arts management. How do I get there? I have started by going to college for dance with an arts management minor and I need to find a way to schedule this plan into my tuition costs, but I feel confident that I can do that. I am happy to have the courses that I do at SMU for dance, such as the always  amazing ballet and pointe technique, Graham technique taught by former members of the Graham Company and jazz class from the best. I can really work on myself here. I am sure the arts management teachers are just as good and I can’t wait until I have time to do my minor!

In addition to the school year, summers are also important for dancers. I want to go out into the dance world to see and be seen so I can get a job after college. For this summer, however, I have already made plans. I will be teaching at a local dance studio near my house. The pay is very good and I will get some great teaching and possibly choreographic experience from this job.

So that is my plan for college: Take the courses for dance and arts management, get a good job or dance experience in the summer and make enough connections to have a real dance job after college. Along the way I will have to constantly improve myself both mentally and physically. My body is my instrument and now is the time to tune it. I need to be ready for whatever life throws at me.

 

A Compilation of Problems

http://sotu.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/18/state-of-the-union-crib-sheet-for-sunday-november-18-2012/?iref=allsearch

This article was about different responses and solutions to current problems in U.S. politics. The topics varied from the Israel and Hamas conflict to the Benghazi consulate attack and of course, the economy.

From an artistic point of view, I see these different ideas about the country and the world clashing and yet, these are the ideas that we have to go on. These ideas compete and clash and muddle through the unpleasant work of government and eventually, there must be some outcome that is a product of this struggle, whether it is good, bad or indifferent.

This is how the thought process works. (At least for me…) There are too many ideas, good and bad, that are constantly competing for space. It is logic and emotion that determine what option I go with. You could even call it my conscience.

For an artistic response, I have chosen a photograph. I took this when I was traveling this summer and I didn’t really understand why. I had too many ideas. But is it good, bad or just whatever? I think that while our own ideas may be important to us, we need to consider what others will think. Not that we should cater to a certain audience, but I think that having  more than one perspective is always wise and that too many ideas is not necessarily a good thing…

A Touch of Magic – Pointe Magazine

http://www.pointemagazine.com/issues/octobernovember-2012/touch-magic

Beatriz Stix-Brunell is only 19 and has already had an amazing career. She trained everywhere from SAB to the Paris Opera and is now in the Royal Ballet in London. This experience could turn anyone into a prima donna, but she sounds lovely and down to earth. Every time I see a prodigy like this on the cover of a magazine, I have an enormous twinge of self doubt. I wonder why they always put the best, youngest most beautiful dancers on the cover. Not that I don’t love reading about their lives, but why is it always the same?

The dance world is bigger than just concert dance, and there are many different types of dancers out there. For once, I would like to see an article about an extremely hard woking dancer who has worked their way up and doesn’t necessarily have perfect facility or technique. I want to see a real person, faults and all on the cover of a dance magazine. I want there to be an issue about perseverance and dedication. Most of us are not these cover girls. All I’m saying is that  I want to read about a dancer who isn’t perfect but whose love of dance is stronger than all of his or her imperfections.

For my artistic response, I have uploaded a picture of one of my dance friends from high school. Her technique and body type are not perfect but her love of dance (and therefore her movement quality) and dedication are more than enough to make up for it. I would put her on the cover and write an article entitled, “Paris Jones, Overcoming Imperfection.”

Malala’s journey from near death to recovery, Minnie’s Food Pantry

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/10/world/asia/pakistan-malala-one-month/index.html?hpt=wo_c2

This story is about a young Pakistani girl named Malala. She is only 15 and is a beacon of hope to all the girls in her country with her blog advocating the education of females. I thought that this was incredibly brave and I wonder if I would have been as brave.

I would like to make a dance about women and the repression they face in situations like this. To do this though, I would have to get involved in helping and experiencing what these women are going through. I could not create anything without having actually experienced it because it would be a lie. I would love to bring awareness to this issue though.

One thing that I did recently experience was voulenteering at Minnie’s Food Pantry in Plano. I learned many things from the experience and would be much more prepared to create a piece about my experience there. Here are some questions I answered about my experience there:

  1. 1. What did I learn about Minnie’s and the community it serves?

Minnie’s food pantry is an important part of its community, fighting on the front lines of hunger. At Minnie’s, it is not about donating a couple of cans of food, but it is about actually doing the work necessary to feed the hungry.

  1. 2. What is unique about Minnie’s Food Pantry?

I think the defining characteristic of Minnie’s is the positive attitude of everyone and Cheryl is the catalyst for this positivity and inspiration. At Minnie’s, you’re not just giving people food; you’re also giving people hope.

  1. 3. What type of awareness would I like to raise in regard to Minnie’s Food Pantry?

Minnie’s food pantry is a special place and more people could be involved in volunteering. I would raise awareness about what this organization does and who it affects. I would tell my friends and tell them about my experience working at Minnie’s. I am surprised that more people from SMU are not involved.

  1. 4. What have I learned about poverty and hunger in North Dallas?

Hunger is a real and tangible problem for many families in North Dallas. It is not just the homeless who are hungry; many families are struggling to put food on the table. I have also learned that I can make a real difference by helping out.

  1. 5. Why was this engagement important?

This engagement with the community really woke me up. I was living in my own little world. For me, this experience opened up my eyes to encompass a greater world than my own. I realized that I am an important part of my community and that I can truly make a difference. So many companies are involved that they can raise a bigger awareness.

  1. 6. How can I use what I’ve learned through volunteering at the Food Bank to serve my art?

I’ve learned not to judge others or myself. I can apply this to dance in many ways such as being a more open observer of dance, and not judging myself in class and choreography as much. I’ve also learned not to limit myself. I can truly accomplish what I set my mind to and I have the ability to accomplish my goals in my art. You need to immerse yourself in an environment to truly understand how to create art about it. Art is inspiring.

  1. 7. What is the message I’d like to send out? How can dance be a vehicle to catalyze social-justice and social change?

By helping others, you are helping them in every way imaginable.  It may be just food to you, but to the people you are helping it is hope for a better future. Dance is in the same business. You never know what your art can mean to someone else and when I dance, I give all of my passion away to the audience. No matter how small you think your actions are, they can make a difference to someone. I like Cheryl’s motto, “If you can’t feed 100 people, feed just 1.” Dance can be a powerful tool in catalyzing social-justice and social change because dance expresses pure human emotion in a language we can all understand. Because dance is a universal language, people can identify with each other, get on the same page and solve problems in our society.

Curtain Up – Dance Magazine

http://www.dancemagazine.com/issues/November-2012/Curtain-up

“Women and leadership. Women and ballet. Women and men. Women and women. Women and nature. Each pairing suggests different realms in which dancers are defying stereotypes. And we’ve tried to cover it all in our first Women’s Issue.”

I love this article. It goes on to talk about some amazing females in the dance world who break boundaries and set the bar for the future at a new height. This is also the first women’s issue of Dance Magazine. For my artistic response, I would like to focus on what it means to me to be a woman and a dancer. I will choreograph based on words that come to mind when I think about that relationship of “woman” and “dancer.”

Power. I know people that believe women are less powerful than men. When I dance, I am in control of my body and I know better. The first movement that comes to mind is standing up, back engaged with arms by the side, looking straight ahead with a level chin.

Confidence. Finding power in my movement allows me to be confident in all aspects of life.  The movement for confidence is proud, yet understated, soft and sure. I am thinking of a promenade in arabesque.

Independence. Confidence allows me to be independent and free. Independence is what women have been fighting for, and I find my freedom in dancing. My movement for this is a jump, a grand jete.

For music, I chose something beautiful and powerful that explains how it feels to be a woman and a dancer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0nt81qICfA

What it’s like to lose the election

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/04/opinion/greene-campaign-defeat/index.html?hpt=us_t3

This article is about losing and taking the loss inward and internalizing it. Because of this article, I have a new sympathy for politicians everywhere. I can imagine keeping that bottled in! I found a great picture that is a perfect portrait of what the losing candidates must feel. Then I found another photo that shows what gloating can truly be.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Wd9GP45tjQE/R6Hs4_VHFEI/AAAAAAAAAPo/rzWn6VU2K1U/s320/inward+bottom.jpg

http://images.smh.com.au/2010/08/20/1825174/afl1-420×0.jpg

In Charge

http://www.dancemagazine.com/issues/November-2012/In-charge

This amazing article is about a ballet dancer, Tamara Rojo, who is now the artistic director of the English National Ballet. I chose this article because she basically has my dream life. I want to dance professionally and then be a part of managing a company or other artistic project. I will respond with a haiku:

Dreaming of success

Realizing my path is

Difficult indeed

Act powerful, be powerful

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/28/opinion/cuddy-power-posing/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

I chose this article because as a dancer, I know Amy Cuddy’s claims to be true. I just think she could expand on her research and look more into dance and dance therapy as a way to increase confidence. For my artistic response, I will write her a letter.

Dear Ms. Cuddy,

Hello. My name is Meredith Williams and I am a dance major at Southern Methodist University. I loved your “Act Powerful, Be Powerful” article for TED, and I hope in your future research that you consider interacting with dancers and performers. We analyze every little micro-movement on stage and can read body language very well. As a dancer, I was excited to learn about power posing because it is something that I experience every day. All of the positions in dance represent emotion and confident (power) poses are often big. The few positions you mentioned in your article are used quite often in classical ballet and in miming. The poses are direct and recognizable positions of power and read well on and off stage. Perhaps you could discover even more power positions by going to the ballet.

Besides ballet, there are many other movement styles that command attention, such as Modern (Specifically Graham) Spanish Dance (Flamenco) and even Hip-Hop. All powerful movement comes from the core, which in turn electrifies the spine. When the spine is energized and active, people are immediately drawn to it. Those are just some points to consider if you choose to continue with this research.

I just wanted to thank you for recognizing how powerful the connection between body and mind (and soul I might add) can be. I look forward to watching or reading your work in the future.

Best,

Meredith Williams

SMU Class of 2016
Dance Major, Arts Management Minor
Email: mewilliams@smu.edu
Phone: (804) 393-0794