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The March equinox marks one of two times each year that day and night unfold to equal lengths. This ‘balancing act’ of darkness and light is a precarious collection of conditions. It is movement, rhythm, angles and relationship that together create this equality. Today, as I tune into the equinox, I marvel at how this simple balance can be expressed amidst the chaos in our universe.
As a society, we have a tendency to put ‘balance’ in a bucket for later. After I finish this performance run. After I secure a contract. After my baby learns to sleep. Certainly, taking refuge on the other side of a high-stress period is an important part of living sustainably. But what if balance doesn’t have to just wait? Could it possibly be found within the chaos? Perhaps balance could be less conditional, more creative, an infusing of real-life with oxygen and perspective. As I finish this performance run. As I secure a contract. As my baby learns to sleep.
In the Middle of it All, Somewhat Elevated
Alongside the early buds of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, ballet companies unveil their upcoming seasons. International auditions wrap up and company contract renewals are distributed. Retirements, staff changes and promotions are announced. New dancers are hired and some dancers are given notice (been there!). In certain years, there’s room for expansion, opportunity and risk-taking. Other years call for cutting back and working with restraint. With a busy performance season still underway, the low rumble of the future inches closer. A tangled blend of emotions – from anticipation and excitement, to stress and disappointment – weave with notable imbalance through studio halls.
Whether experiencing or witnessing change, the ground beneath every dancer is shifting at least a little (or perhaps a lot) this spring. Some of the changes announced in the ballet world have signaled progress (though nowhere near equality) in our artform. As all forms of news, activity and emotion swirl through the air, balance may seem out of reach – even trivial. Yet balance is the very thing that allows us to be in the middle of our chaos, and also somewhat elevated.
Expanding the Repertoire for Balance
The commodified version of balance is sold to us in the form of face masks, vacations and wine. It’s advertised as the serene parenting professional who “has it all together” between her cross-training regimens, meal plans and supermom strategies. Such comedic, unrealistic representations distort what balance is and how it is cultivated. They trick our minds into believing that balance is something we either indulge in sometimes or achieve for always.
It’s freeing to remember balance is not something to master; it is something to tilt towards. The equinox arrives showing us it is an experience to move into, pass through and rhythmically move back towards again.
Balance, and the daily habits that sponsor it, look different for each of us. It’s an ongoing, personal process of inquiry and discovery to truly tailor the fit. But for all of us, it’s important to identify balance as something larger than ourselves. An artist’s healthy inner life is interdependent with a healthy arts community at large. Expanding outward in the name of balance is as equally important as turning inward. Rather than depleting us, engaging outwardly as an arts advocate broadens perspective, fuels inspiration and enriches passion with purpose. With small, everyday actions, balance becomes something we can access and experience together.
Three Action Steps:
- JOIN Americans for the Arts
The National Arts Action Summit and Arts Advocacy Day occured in Washington, DC earlier this March. This summit brought arts activists together in support of strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts. Hosted by Americans for the Arts, cultural and civic organizations partnered to advocate for issues like arts education policy, the charitable tax deduction and funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. You can JOIN Americans for the Arts to support this annual event and to engage with their tremendous efforts all year long.
- EXPLORE The United States of Arts
Since the beginning of 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts has been gathering stories from the general public and grantees, elected officials and agency directors, artists and art lovers across the country about the importance of art in their lives and their communities. EXPLORE these geographically organized stories to spark creative ideas and connect to your community as an arts advocate.
- ENCOURAGE Creativity
As dancers, you already know why #TheArtsMatter. This Encourage Creativity campaign (created by Americans for the Arts) is designed to reach your power-holding policymakers, business leaders, parents and teachers. These wonderful resources can be used by YOU to advocate for access to the arts in your community and to educate those around you. Start by SHARING this compelling (and adorable!) video. Supplement your efforts with Why the Arts Matter State Factsheets.
When we embody balance as a daily rhythm that bends us both inward and outward, we become better artists and also better citizens. However imperfect these practices are, they still seem to create the occasional magic of an equinox, right in the middle of our lives.
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