Your “work” being your calling or your passion or your raison d’etre.
Recently, I attended a rich discussion by a panel of gifted, acclaimed choreographers (Wendy Whelan, David Dorfman, Ronald K. Brown, Brian Brooks). I was thrilled to hear their wise nuggets of advice about how to hang in there in this enormously challenging field of dancing. I was especially struck by the counsel of Ronald Brown, founder and Artistic Director of Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company, who said the essential element is to “do the work and the rest will take care of itself.”
He recalled attending poetry readings by the late poet/activist/warrior, Audre Lord, who asked her audiences if they were “doing their work.” A key question that has helped him for the past several decades to keep his eye on the most important thing: the art of dance and dancemaking.
When he related this inspiring recollection, I immediately asked myself if I were “doing the work.” I.e. “MY work.” And at that moment I was happy to realize that I was. I was attending the terrific workshop, participating in a community of dancers, learning from masters, contributing my own energy and dancing in classes.
I was feeding and growing my art.
But my self-congratulatory jig was short-lived as I admitted to myself within seconds that I haven’t been doing some of the heavy lifting that I need to do. Namely, working on my new piece. Oh, sure, I’ve been dipping my toes in more. But all too often, when the opportunity comes along to be distracted or waylaid, I jump on it!
Because “doing the work” is HARD. Painful, excruciating even. So much doubt, uncertainty, lack of road maps. FEAR.
Since the panel discussion, I have a new tool to get back on track of pursuing the meaningful. Asking myself: Are you doing the work? It’s intriguing to me how this simple question has been such an accurate barometer. I have an immediate physical response that has been spot on.
Using this gauge has helped me focus and assess. Sad to say, the answer is still “no” much of the time. But the “yeses” are beginning to multiply. Soonish, I may even have a new piece :).
In the meantime, I ponder what needs to happen for my work. And what about you: Are you doing yours?
Photo credits: Alexandra; Rich Davis