A couple of years ago (has it been that long?) I participated in an arts workshop called Fieldwork here in Houston via CORE dance. The work (not the focus of this article but something I’d invite you to learn more about) culminates in a final presentation. For this particular program’s physical program we were asked to include a bio… in haiku form!
It was a unique request but one I had fun completing. I hadn’t written any haiku since my school days and spent a little time investigating the form beyond the 5-7-5 syllable rule my teachers had always instilled. The following was what I published in our program:
Her leaves quiver aloft;
Broad tree with many branches
A sapling grows beneath
It felt like “my story”…incorporating a sense of movement, of personal growth, of my diversified career/interests/talents, and my then new role as a mom.
It’s as good a time as any to let you know that the last line of my haiku might now be altered to Two saplings grow beneath. Yes, I’m currently about 4 1/2 months pregnant with my second child and due in August. A new chapter in the story, and…
Everyone has a story
Recently, in an email conversation, I traded “stories” (dance backgrounds, life and training pathways) with a young ballet dancer, who you’ll be hearing from later this week on Dance Advantage. I am more than twice her age (ugh!) but in a few paragraphs we were each able to summarize and hit the highlights of our experience. It was like exchanging bios but more personal, revealing something more of ourselves – character, qualities, aspirations. I began to think about autobiography and that all of us have an interesting and very individual story to tell (even if it wouldn’t or shouldn’t take a novel to tell it).
I discovered in the process that her story: the things she’s accomplished, experienced, and done, are compelling not because they are uniquely spectacular but unique to her, interpreted by her, shared by her. Whether you elect to focus your tale on dance or on your entire life’s journey, I’d simply like to invite your to share your ‘autobiography’ with the rest of us in a medium of your choice.
As I mentioned, the Haiku form was fun to revisit. This option may be right for you if you’d like the mental or artistic challenge of summing up your story in just a few words, if you’d like to avoid getting too specific in a public space, or if you’re short on time but can handle something in short form.
The way you share can be as unique as your story, however. Can you dance/improvise your story and get it on video? Can you write out some prose in a few paragraphs? Can you paint or draw your story? Feel free to be creative with your response!
When you’re ready to share your story, place it or link to it in the comments of this post.
Or, if you prefer, send it to me via Twitter @danceadvantage or put it on our Facebook page wall.
Why not? I know you’re busy. Me too. There’s no pressure, twist-your-arm incentives, or time limits. I really just thought “Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear/read/see the stories of our readers?” and decided to offer a way to share them that is creative but not necessarily time consuming …for fun! What will you highlight? What will we discover about each other? Not to get all kumbaya on you, but you might call it a creative community-building exercise. Make it part of your dance journal, if you like.
I hope you’ll give it a try. Don’t leave my Haiku hangin’!
While thinking about your story, take a moment to reflect on how dance and the arts have been critical along your path. I know they’ve played an enormous and crucial role in my story. If your reflection moves you, visit the Americans for the Arts website and find out ways to take action today and in the future.
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.