Choreograph Breath

Choreograph Breath

I had an amazing experience recently. When I was performing at the Waterloo Juggling Festival, everything in my act went exactly as planned. This, of course, sounds how it should be, but if I am honest with you, I have really struggled in my carrier to nail it. I do well, enough to ensure no one else notices my foibles, but there was one thing that drastically changed how I felt during my act: I choreographed a moment of stillness in order to take a deep breath. In fact, even in this act, I forgot to choreograph one last breath in the final minute of the act. At 40 seconds, I fumbled just a tiny bit. How was I making it through 6 minutes without breathing  before? In reality, it’s scary to take time to be still on stage. This makes me feel all the feelings contained within my body. All eyes are upon me in that moment, and I feel the urge to do and be something. There is this voice inside that says “You don’t want to waste a precious second of your audiences time without entertainment!”. It’s a lie. As my teacher David McMurray Smith says “Nothing never happens”. But when you are up on stage, building energy, it is very likely that your sympathetic nervous system has kicked in. Your body becomes a jumble of nerves and using cognitive functions becomes more difficult. The body puts its resources into fight or flight responses.  It’s screaming “Do something!”. This is where all that practice comes in handy! It’s great to rehearse an act 100 times but...
Showing up vs Showing off

Showing up vs Showing off

Notice the differences between your practice when you feel like you are in a comparative mindset.  Are you showing up, or are you showing off? Showing off is all about your ego, with you as the center of your mindset. You are in the future mindset with angst or arrogance. This is where you find yourself trying to prove something to other people, gain validation from their attention. This is where you are trying to be “the best”, “the prettiest”, “the coolest” instead of trying to do the work of expressing all the original expression only you can do. In contrast, by showing up, you connect with yourself authentically as you are right now. The quality of your work changes when you can be with yourself because you can connect with others. When you are showing up, you’ll find yourself able to listen, as you have already learned to listen to yourself. When you’ve stopped trying to prove yourself to others, you can slow down and turn your attention outwards and hear what the world needs from you. We artists need to promote ourselves consistently to be able to sell our work. Taking photos and videos, writing bios and promotion packages then creating perfection on stage. There is an enormous focus on our egos because we are the product we are selling. We sell our image and our moves. Showing off is an easy trap to fall into in the business. Yet, the other side to this line of thinking is that what we are really showing is the work we do on ourselves. Our ability to be authentic...
Mindfulness on Stage

Mindfulness on Stage

The fleeting moment of accomplishment is not the goal of our work. Sure, it’s motivating and it feels great. If all goes well those peaks will be there. But, that moment is only a split second of the real work. The mindfulness is the true purpose of the practice. Witnessing yourself through all the peaks and the valleys without judgement (or letting go of judgement) is what will keep us coming back to the studio. Getting into our body, feeling ourselves and how we relate to the space around us, going deeper and feeling our feelings is the real reason we practice anything in life. Our audiences don’t want to watch someone who shames themselves into being “perfect”. Our audience wants to to connect to us, because for that moment that we are on stage, we let them into our world. We give them permission to feel their feelings through our process of sharing ours. We allow them a moment to side step their own shame, and validate themselves. This can only happen if we give ourselves permission to feel and be ourselves and be free of our own cultural constructs that bring about shame in the first place. The meaning of our practice is in the mindfulness. It’s not about the attainment of each trick. Tricks show the mastery over the our world, it’s true. But honestly, mastery is only interesting for a second. What humans really desire is that connection, and mastery actually creates walls and idols and pedestals that destroy our ability to connect. The progress of ourselves as humans is the real story. How did...

The Meaning of Art

Sometimes I wonder what the meaning of art is. I wonder if this is a good use of my life. It is a hoped that one could inspire others to find the awe and wonder in themselves. It is a hope that we could all become like children again, just for a moment. We don’t know why we need stories, but we do. We are willing to fight for them, to die for them, and to take our whole lives to become Masters at telling them. Whatever the meaning of story’s and sports are, it’s intangible, but there is no doubt it is...
I am back

I am back

I am back! Here’s a Sneak Preview of Dawn’s newest act & tour dates in Quebec and Toronto! View this email in your browser I AM BACK (In Canada) Hey Hey, How are you doing? Things are great here, just wanted to give you some tour dates, a download, and a bit of my story from France. For 2 years I was living and training in France. Moving across the world actually meant a complete deconstruction of all I knew before, and a newly reconstructed view of the world. I re-learned how to walk and balance my body, and by practicing walking and dancing, I learned how to listen to how my body feels. I did this daily. I re-learned how to talk by learning French. I relearned how to write by writing for The Busking Project and the Flow Arts Institute. Understanding tone, speed, and articulation is something I never heard or paid attention when speaking english, but they became became important when learning a foreign language. Most of all, I learned how much attention is required for real listening. Speaking in a second language is an game of endurance of one’s attention span. Who knew? I re-learned how to drive. It was a manual car and I drove through small windy village towns, with the feel of an engine at my fingertips. The space a car takes-up became very apparent when the size of the roads are the size of one lane in Canada. It is still too much to pay attention to driving while speaking French at the same time. It was like reliving 30 years of life in a 2 year time period. Except I am consciously aware of my infantile ways. All of this allows for a deeper...

re-learning

This process of being in France for 2 years gave me some serious understandings of my art. Through a process of re-learning everything, I have re-discovered many things. I had to reclaim my contact juggling through all this training. Re-find my style, my ideas, my own joys without having the taint of someone’s else’s idea of “cool” placed upon me. I have been relearning to walk, to find grace, not in the trendy break-dancing way, but in a way that suits my body, my ideas of improvisation, my hopes and understanding of lines and grace. I have relearned to write – like I couldn’t do in school – crying over essays because I was dealing with so many difficulties in my relationships, with my family, with my own self esteem. I relearned what art is, what it means to the world and what it means to me. The practiced deepened inside of me in a way I have no words for yet. I have relearned my ideas of myself. How to be strong in what I value, even if they go against the norms of society. I have had to learn not to be defensive, although this is more difficult said than done. I have learned my triggers, and how to avoid them. I have learned comfort in those who share a similar reality to mine, and the connections and conversations that I feel are real and deep and meaningful – without having to be defensive – but just being me and having that be accepted and loved. I have had to learn I am not crazy. I have...
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