the ladder of gratitude.

My experience with Collage Dance Collective, similar to that of YoungArts week as a senior in high school, was one of those pivotal moments for me as a growing artist. Reaffirming. Encouraging. Edifying. Inspiring.

I was quiet most of the time. Absorbing the information I received by watching how professionals work. They were tentative in rehearsing each step, inhabiting corrections right away and assessing the needs for their body to make the movement appear seamless. As a whole the company supported one another by communicating openly and honestly, it allowed them to become intimate for a show that was due in less than a week.

I use the words they and them....because it wasn't until a few days later did I realized I was swimming in that pool of professionalism and artistry as well. Unlike my experience at River North--I wasn't being shoved into a corner copying movements from someone else's body and pasting them into space when it was my turn. The weight of physical and mental exhaustion I carried home, along with everyone else. And from time to time we shared that weight, supporting each other with eyes and energy that said: You are Amazing. All of the time.

One night a few of us dancers went to Applebees for cheap Margaritas and I saw that same exhaustion in the eyes of a waitress folding napkins. There I was surrounded by laughter and trash talk about the events of our day, and I was captured by her. I saw a reflection of my own life....I'd been there many times, working a job that pays the bills. And I suddenly understood how long rehearsal days, threat of injury and fatigue could be so fulfilling. I was living everyday in my purpose. Because everything about what I do must be full of effort, honesty, character and truth...as an artist the works requires that. It leaves no room for anonymity-you come to the forefront of your work and give it your all.

I've achieved other life lessons just by being around these beautiful hard-working people. They will stay with me as I continue the journey elsewhere.

Thank You Collage.