Tuesday, March 05, 2013

in my ears.....

This is what I've been listening to in the car for the last few days.
band: múm

(go ahead, listen)
(try it. you'll like it.)
(it will make a great soundtrack for what you are about to read)
(it's what I was listening to when I wrote it, so it will be a "like minds moment" sort of thing, yah??)
(by the way...i love parenthesis!)

Sorry to be vague yesterday with the "Dumpsville" post, but sometimes it doesn't make sense to vent on a blog when you are exhausted and don't have time to edit, especially when the thing you are venting about could potentially involve people that might just be readers of your blog (I know my co-teacher KarenTheDancingLurker has been getting an earful of this for a good long while, so I don't believe anything here is new news to her, at least).
I'm getting it all out here tonight, though.
Apparently there is no keeping this in.

What had me down in the dumps yesterday is the fact that I am still trying to work through something that I have been trying to sort out for months now:
I need to fix my creative life in relation to dance.

Let's be honest here.
I am not happy what I am doing.
I have not enjoyed co-directing the present dance ensemble in quite awhile.
Not only is teaching and directing not feeding me creatively, it has now moved into the category of sucking the creative lifeblood right out out of me.
A couple of months ago, I set some very clear boundaries with my students and the ensemble, boundaries that I needed to be in place so that I could continue to even consider continuing to teach this class and create performances with this troupe.
These boundaries were communicated, understood, and accepted by the troupe.
In the last several weeks, every boundary that I had set has been crossed.
I do not believe any of them are out to spite me, and I am sure they'd tell you that none of the pain they are causing is intentional...but it really presents itself as if it's coming from a place of not caring, of disrespect, and of self-centeredness.
I can't continue to give so much of myself into this sort of environment.

I honestly do not know if I can continue to teach this class, and it saddens me greatly. I have been attending this class for 19 years, and I have been co-teaching it for 13 years, since our teacher died. Part of why I teach is to carry on my mentor's work. I so desperately wish she were here right now, right this minute, so that I could talk to her about all of this. She'd know exactly what to do (and it would probably involve giving the students and the entire ensemble a swift kick in the arse....but she commanded a much different level of respect, one that I am not so sure that I even come close to.)

I have been wanting to throw in the towel for months now, but I just can't seem to do it.  I worry my mentor's work will be lost. I worry about quitting and abandoning my co-teacher. I worry that I am giving up without giving it one last final push of effort to shape it into something that works for me (even though there have already been several "last efforts" already, and I keep trying "just one more thing".)  I worry about needing to deal with the fact that I strongly identify myself as a dance teacher, and if I no longer teach...then what am I? 

The only way I can continue to teach this class without becoming a horrible hot mess, is if I have another creative outlet for movement. If teaching this ensemble is going to going to make a hole in my soul, then I need other dance work to fill it back in again.  I need to take classes and workshops with other teachers. I need to try new things. Learn new things. Move other ways.  I need to do movement practices that inspire me. I need to work with people that are committed to working. 

The issue is this though:
there are only so many friggin'  hours in the day for me right now. As the single mom of a very active teenager, there are only so many nights a week that I can bail out of the house and take dance classes or go see performances or rehearse.  I do not believe that I can carve out any more "creative time" in my week at this juncture in my life.  Really, the best way for me to gain more creative time is to give up the many hours a week I invest in teaching my own class. 

But I keep not doing that.  I think about it. But I chicken out.

As of today, I am at least registered to take some workshops and classes over the next couple of months, even though I already do too much and I don't know how I'm going to pull it all off.  Tonight I spent time teaching MyFavoriteKid how to cook a few favorite meals so that he can be left alone for yet another night of the week on his own fending for himself.

But today I also spent several hours working on business stuff for the existing ensemble. I am supposed to be working on marketing and social network materials in an effort to reinvigorate the troupe with new students and troupe members.  It seems a little ridiculous to me on some level, to bring new members into an environment where the existing members actions are proving that they are not already on board....and it's bringing up quite a bit of anger and resentment.

I feel like I am going nuts because I am watching myself meditate and reflect upon what the clear path for me should be, and I hear myself saying what needs to happen (it's time to close a door so another can have swinging room to open), but I just don't want to do it. I don't want to give up....for the reasons I listed several paragraphs ago.... but I keep feeling like I should res-state them as if that will somehow make a difference.

I am tired.
I am tired and wilted from investing too much time in something that is bearing little fruit, or when it does bear fruit, it's bitter fruit.

And it's all moot. I can't do anything about it right now anyhow, not in peak performance season.
So I will revisit this whole issue.
In a few weeks time.


Jen Anderson said...

I'm so sorry you're going through all this turmoil. Can none of the students do the social media outreach for you? Have you considered taking a sabbatical from teaching the class? That way you could quit but with training wheels. You may go back invigorated, you may decide to stay away, but it might give you the space to explore your creativity elsewhere as well as the time.

MsAmpuTeeHee said...

Hi, Jen. Yes to both.~~~~

We have had a student do some of that work for us in exchange for class, but the exchange rate was rather high (we actually haven't made money by teaching in years, in fact...we often PAY to teach). Also, she was just as busy as the rest of us! Her availability to do work was not consistent, and she recently decided that she needed to study other arts and there is only so much time in the day (sound familair?) and has left the troupe.~~~~

I have thought about testing the waters with a sabbatical. It seems like it would be a really good method for myself to take the time to really sort this out, on one hand. On the other hand, I have been sorting this out internally for years.~~
Funny thing. We used to be a co-teaching unit of 3. Several years ago, one of the other teachers also got frustrated with teaching for very similar reasons. She took a sabbatical, came back, and eventually left no longer. As her co-teachers, we were happy to give her that space. But it was also like watching the inevitable unfold. Her long extraction didn't make it any easier for me to prepare myself mentally for taking up her slack. It made my process of taking over harder. In other words, I am also trying to not just think about myself.

Ludmilla said...

Yeah, I'm going through that in a different way. My mother died nearly 3 years ago and I still can't get rid of so much of the stuff she left behind. I look at it and think "Why?!" These thins don't enhance my life, my creativity, the living space, but I just feel I should but I can't. Decluttering is difficult, especially decluttering life. (This is not advice. Just telling you I empathize with your frustration.)