I have been living in London for almost 2 weeks now, getting used to a new city and seeing how the new chapter of my life pans out.
On one hand things are going well and and on the other hand not so great. I'll start with the negatives, to get them out of the way.
Firstly I haven't done class or really danced since I have been here. Two weeks is not much you might say, but I haven't really danced since I graduated from NSCD, in July, so for me it feels like an eternity and I am starting to get itchy feet....and the nagging anxiety that I am a 'professional' now, I need to be in class so I am ready to work.
I was thinking about my lack of dancing and reasons for this, apart from lack of money (the reason for which I will move on to shortly), and the best thing I can use to explain it is Maslow's 'Heirachy of Needs'. Abraham Maslow was a psychologist and his hierarchy of needs its a pyramid shaped diagram that explains the ability of humans actions, and the possibility for development and fulfilling their potential. He suggested that humans have to fulfill one level of the pyramid before they can move on to the next.
At the bottom of the pyramid are 'Physiological Needs', the very basic needs of a human - breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis and excretion. The next level is 'Safety Needs' - security of body, of employment, of resources, of morality, of the family, of health, of property. Then comes 'Love and Belonging Needs' - friends, family and sexual intimacy. Next are 'Esteem Needs' - self esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others and respect by others. Finally top of the pyramid is 'Self Actualization' which includes morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts.
I learnt about Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs while studying communication studies for my A levels. I remember little of what I learnt from college/school, but this always stuck in my mind because it seemed logical for me. Someone who is living rough, not knowing where their next meal will come from is going to be consumed by surviving, they won't have the energy or be able to dedicate their brain to much else.
Of course, my situation is by no means extreme, but I currently have no job and no permanent home. The energy and mental space that consumes mean that at the moment dance has moved down my 'To do' list slightly.
The next unsatisfactory situation is obviously the no job situation. I have applied for jobs at the Tate Modern gift shop and Barbican but am waiting to hear. I have also emailed my CV to a lot of smaller galleries, but paid opportunities in this context are rare. In the mean time I have rung a promotional company that I am registered with who told me, two weeks on the row, that they had no work in central London, which surprised myself, and them, greatly. I rang a cleaning company and apparently a degree isn't enough, I had to have specific checks that I had never even heard of, let alone have. And I went to the job center which was a depressing waste of time and opened my eyes to the difficulties faced by the unemployed - a silly, unsupportive, dehumanised system. I expected finding a dance job to be hard but not getting a 'normal' job. So my task today is to print my numerous copies of my CV in preparation for tomorrow or next week (Saturdays never a good CV giving day, too busy) and go hammer the shops/bars/temping agencies.
On the good side of being here I love being in a big city again. There is so much going on, I feel when I am more settled the opportunities and possibilities for me as an artist here are very exciting.
I have started working with Lindy Nsingo, a fellow Northerner, who graduated the year before me and is now doing a masters in choreography at The Place. She is developing a solo for me, as something outside of her MA, and I am looking forward to working with her as I think she will challenge me as a dancer and performer.
Another project I will be doing over the next few weeks is Street Training at Hoxton Hall. According to their website Street Training is being aware of the effects our thoughts and behaviour have on our surroundings and making use of this knowledge. It's all and any of the joyful, funny, poetic, challenging things people do as we move through the streets. Every one does something over and above just walking down the street with their walking-down -the -street face on, going shopping and going to work. These things slip through the cracks in most big cities but the personal playful, joyful, subversive things we do make a difference to us, to other people and to places. (To view the website click here)
Over the next few weeks we (there is a group of six of us) will be training with Lottie and her assistant Phillida on the streets around Hoxton Hall, which is a small community theater to which this particular Street Training project is linked, and it will culminate in a series of 'performances' in September. (For more information view the Hoxton Hall website here).
Its not dance, and its not paid, but I did because this kind if work interests me, and also for the experience and to meet people. And so far its been a great experience and I've met some inspiring people. Also, Hoxton Hall itself is great to know about as its an old Victorian Music Hall and a lovely venue. I also feel that as a performer this a really good opportunity. Doing work on the streets is a very different from performing in the theater. Its unpredictable, and I personally feel much more vulnerable. Doing this work will challenge me in many ways, and I have already felt differences in my mental approaches to situations and my awareness of my surroundings.. all useful stuff.
From as of yesterday I am also helping out a couple of days a week at a small photography gallery called HOST (see their website here). Again this is not paid, but as it was a small amount of commitment I felt like I could do it and when I get a paid job I can work around it. Again I felt it would also be a good way to meet people, a useful experience and that I could learn something about how galleries work. My sister and I are developing a collective called negotiationofspace to combine our skills of dance and photography (she is studying at Parsons New School in NYC) and create work based on our experience as twins, (to view our website click here) so it is important for me to start building contacts in all areas of the arts to give us the best opportunities.
So life after school has been up and down, just as I expected really, I knew I'd never be the type of dancer to walk straight in to a job/company, and thats not really my desire. But its made a lot easier by the fact that I have 1. have very supportive parents 2. have great friends, meaning some of my pyramid of needs is most definitely satisfied.