Updated: Mar 9, 2020
The arts matter. October 25, 2019 is a day to celebrate! Communities, arts organizations, artists, and arts educators will celebrate and advocate for the important roles the arts play in our daily lives through #ArtsMatterDay, an online event sponsored by Massachusetts arts advocacy organization, MASSCreative.
When thinking about my #ArtsMatter story, I thought about how significantly my life has been scaffolded by the arts. My entire upbringing, I was fortunate to be surrounded by music and dance, with opportunities to participate in theatre and visual arts. Unfortunately, access to the arts is often limited, especially in schools where resources are already strained.
In June 2013, I attended a month-long summer program for rising high school juniors and seniors, as a dance student. It was here that one of my most influential #ArtsMatter stories took place. During the first week of the program, I auditioned for a piece, an excerpt from Giselle, which was to be performed in the finale, and was not cast, but only an understudy. In hindsight, this was not a failure, but an event that spurred my dedication to the artform.
It was then I decided to prove I had the technical and artistic capabilities to be in this piece. Every rehearsal, I practiced in the back of the studio, learning everyone’s roles and formations, so that if an understudy was ever needed, I would be ready. Following rehearsals, I wrote notes and reviewed the choreography each night. Fortunately, my understudying did not go unnoticed. After several rehearsals, the choreographer of the piece called me over to explain that she had seen my work in the back of the studio and realized I should have been cast initially.
It was in this moment that my career as a dancer truly began. Although I did not perform this excerpt from Giselle that year, a wonderful mentorship developed between the choreographer and me. Soon after the summer program concluded, I began taking private lessons with the choreographer. She provided me with the technical and artistic foundation (and love of the ballet barre) that carried me through the rest of high school, college dance auditions, and into my current practices as a performer and teacher.
It is because my mentor saw possibilities in me that I could also see possibilities in myself. This is why #ArtsMatter. I found a place, a voice, and future for myself. This experience taught me what hard work and motivation really entails.
Regardless of whether people work professionally as artists or not, everyone needs their moment to find their place, their voice, and their future in the arts, in whatever capacity that may be.