May 10 is a complicated day for me. It’s my dad’s birthday. It is often, like this year, Mother’s Day. My relationship with both of these people is fraught, complicated and raw, all of which is/was exacerbated by my dad’s untimely death in May of 2001. While I am relatively sure that both of them love(d) me, this is called into question by many words and actions over the years. The platitudes don’t actually work or ring true. They are not all that proud of me. In contrast, disappointed is the first word that actually comes to mind. Whether or not this is true is actually irrelevant. The perception of disappointment, the barbs that remain sharp, the erasure of success and the lack of empathy to failure and struggle burrows into my skin and soul. It’s a tough day. There is one more thing to add. It’s my birthday as well. I usually keep that detail hidden though apparently every organization that you have ever contacted keeps the day on file. Numerous emails arrive all day long with impersonal greetings on what should be the most personal of days. I internalized the idea that this was not my day, that I was somehow an intruder upon it. I can still hear my dad jokingly saying that I was “The most expensive gift that I have ever received and I KEEP ON PAYING FOR IT.” It wasn’t a joke. He truly felt that way. My response, both internally and externally was “I’m sorry.” Other choice phrases burned into my brain; “Don’t be selfish, don’t ask for too much, give back instead of taking.” Remember, “it's not just your day.” When I was young, there were, to be sure, cakes and parties, but as I grew, the “you are not special” grew louder as well. So loud that I have disappeared into the day. Usually I work through it (thank you spring shows!) but today is a different beast. The city is shut down and my industry, across all fronts, is in tatters. The career path of a dancer/choreographer/dance educator is treacherous at best. Growing older in an industry that is already dismissive of women over the age of….well, whatever age you choose, I’m over it, is uncertain, challenging and often disheartening. When that industry is in upheaval and disarray, it is terrifying. I can’t even think about the nation at large. Spending the day alone, another day alone, is almost physically painful at this point. I am aware of my good fortune up to now. I have remained employed and will for another month. I am healthy and have a funny cat to brighten my day. I interact with people over the internet all day long and my students continue to amaze. But today is heavy and sad. Although I struggle with severe depression every day, today the black hole has a gravitational pull. My funny cat is scared of crying so she’s keeping her distance, staying in the room, but slightly wary of the extra water. (It is possible she lied on her therapy cat resumé.) My birthday present to myself, an ill fated attempt to try something new, was an orchestra seat ticket to Hamilton. It has now been refunded. There is no possibility of a night on the town or a simple dinner with friends. This day will pass. I am resilient and scrappy and will put my mask back on. It will pass but not go unnoticed and not without creating one more psychic gouge in my soul. I wish I could have this conversation with my parents but I can’t. Dad left the planet long ago and Mom has never been willing to listen. So here we all are, on phone lines with nothing to say but Happy Birthday. Happy Mother’s Day. Love you. Miss you. Be well.
I certainly have things to say and jobs that have been canceled and huge disappointments and sales to raise money, but for today, I am just going to share this charming little tweet and say, I hope you are all well.
Costuming alert! I worked with my favorite director, Reena Dutt as costumer for Sacred Fools wonderful production of Madhuri Shakar's important play. Check it out!
At long last I have posted the final article in my three part series for LA Dance Chronicle. Please read it and let me know what conversations it sparks for you.
Hey, I am honored to have spent a morning chatting with Allie Christensen. Click here to give it a listen!
The second article in my series for LA Dance Chronicle posted today and I very much hope that you will read it. Bullying and Gender Parity in Dance
Hello. Environmental activist Nancy here again with some climate saving holiday gift ideas. Sustainability and no waste policy guides my life. I generally make donations instead of giving physical items for the holidays, but if you want to open presents, here are some handy and helpful gifts to encourage a planet healthy lifestyle!
1. Safety razors: How many plastic razors do you throw away a year? A lot. I just bought this bamboo handled safety razor and I will never go back. Blades are recyclable, the razor feels really luxurious and no plastic. Plus, it will last for life! This is a great gift but I also recommend buying one for yourself.
2. Refillable dental floss: Flossing is great for your teeth and gums and terrible for landfill. Once again there is an elegant and sustainable solution. Refillable metal or glass holders with vegan floss. Then you just refill with floss. No more plastic!
3. Plant-based cook books: A plant based diet is far and away the most concrete action we can take to help stall global warming. There are so many wonderful plant based diets and cuisines to choose from. I prefer a whole foods approach rather than the trendy meat substitutes, but you do you! Here are a few lists:
4. Living gifts are always awesome as well. My colleague Chandra Breslow makes gorgeous creations using found items and succulents! I bought one for my mom for her birthday and it was a hit.
5. Experiences are always amazing gifts. Visit an animal rescue or shelter, go for a hike, perform for a retirement community. We don't always need stuff. Sometimes we just need community and connection.
We all can get a little insane over the holidays. See how you can do both: give what your heart desires and be kind to the planet.
I am so thrilled! I am directing my first dance concert at AMDA and it is quite a show! Live music, all based on John Williams' amazing work on the Star Wars Franchise. 27 Dancers, 10 choreographers (including me) and a 3 piece band! The performances are not public, but I still want to shout this one from the rooftops! December 5-7 in Los Angeles!
I was excited to be included within this article on creating safe spaces for young dancers to attack serious and emotional work. Proud that the work that we did on Too Many Bodies continues to resonate. Check out the article here.
I am thrilled to announce that I have joined the writing staff at LA Dance Chronicle and have just posted my first article. Please check it out. The next in the series will be posted in two to three weeks.
Nancy Dobbs Owen
Want to know what is happening right now? You've come to the right place! Enjoy!