It has taken me longer than my time at Juilliard to develop a support system to buoy me through endeavors large and small.
Certainly being at a busy, high intensity institution, the breathless atmosphere of NYC has initiated me to create a balance in order to support my work at school. For me there are three major pillars to my support system: Family, Friends, and Food.
My family is made up of my beautiful white cat, Kia, my zany dog, Weegee, my mom, Shana, and my dad, Robert. My parents are visual artists who work together on mixed media photographs, and sculptures. They are my biggest inspiration in life and work. For me they are a large part of my support system because they encourage me to be disciplined, motivated, and creative. To me their collaboration is amazing because of their work ethic and ability to balance each other’s ideas. When the routine of daily class and rehearsals starts to feel old I am reminded by my family of the importance of an artist’s daily practice. My parents also imbue artistry and a creative eye into everything they do. They love to explore new ideas, and to be active in their lifestyle and creative spirit. In addition to being supportive from afar, they also come to my performances at Juilliard!
For me food is a direct link between the stabilizing forces of my friends and family. When I connect with a friend, I make it a point to have our time be full of quality one-on-one time and the sharing of a meal. Some of my fondest memories with friends include wandering the stalls of the green market, catching fresh lobster, or waiting in a ridiculous line at a popular restaurant.
I used to sit at the kitchen counter and do my homework as my mom cooked. For a long time I refused for a long time to join her behind the stove, but I do recall that everyday after school I would get into the car and say “what’s for dinner?” My childhood is bordered by memories of food. As an only child I soon fell in love with the self proclaimed responsibility of cooking dinner on Sunday for my parents and I. I had a dumpling phase, a Julia Child era, and obsession with Saveur magazine. Summer involved picking sugar snap peas from a local farm, and in the winter I went on field trips with my class to Berkshire Mountain Bakery.
When I left home for boarding school, my relationship with cooking completely changed. Without having regular access to a kitchen, and being separated from being able to control my meals, the moments when I could cook became a big deal. I would make an event out of the meal, as something special to share and enjoy. This relationship has continued up until this day. For me a meal means an opportunity to connect with friends and family in a way that is similar to a performance which can be enjoyed together.
For me, my friends are a source of daily inspiration. When I am tired I look to the hard work and excellence of a classmates. When I need to get away from school and enjoy the city I know I can count on Matthew to go to a thrift store with me, Mikey to check out a vegan restaurant, or Mio to take a long walk. I learned when I left home my sophomore year of high school that friends, especially in the dance world, become like a second family. They truly understand the sacrifice, love, dedication, and mindset which is the reality of being a dancer. But they also understand the need for humanity and a cultivation of life outside of the studio. My friends inspire me on such a high level because I see their remarkable talent as intertwined in my knowledge of our memories together. This is what supports me and lifts me up beyond my own expectations of myself.