Updated: Dec 28, 2021
Trying to recap 2021, one word came to mind - overwhelm. The feeling that massive waves are constantly sweeping you up and the moment you can catch your breath - another one kicks you off your feet. If you've ever tried surfing (or lived through a pandemic), you know the feeling. However, some things kept us floating even through the tsunamis of uncertainty.
My year could be summed up in three words: I walked, I cried, I loved. I feel that the majority of my time has been filled by either one of those activities (or sometimes all three at the same time). Most of the time it felt like floating and trying to find things to hold on to. My friend told me that whenever she feels overwhelmed, she revises a mental list of things that make her feel better and tries to do a few of them. I know that for me it's usually doing some dancing, tapping, or just moving my body, even when I don't feel like it, especially when I don't feel like it. The next items on my list are probably coffee and cuddles with my cat. What's on yours?
Friends were the other lifevests we could turn to. In the year when we were all floating in the unpredictable, we were reminded that we could just float towards someone and try to keep each other company, hopefully with less judgment and more compassion. I do feel like I've seen my friends in a new light as many of us were stripped away from our lifestyles and identities. We were more vulnerable with each other and in return, we laughed and cried harder together.
While 2020 felt like a year of survival and hustle, 2021 offered more hope. Paradoxically, it was then that I actually started grieving things lost, realizing that there is no place to get back to. Seeing people get back to their "normal" lives, working in offices or remotely, reminded me that the dancer's "normal" is far from returning.
As dancers, we were used to a particular, international environment of traveling to festivals and workshops, teaching, performing, creating. All of that might still take a while to come back, and even if it does, it will be in a different shape and form. While grieving is a normal step, the next one is rebuilding and reinventing. And honestly, I'm excited about it. Becoming a full-time dancer, I always felt like I was following a specific path set before me, paved by other dancers. While it gave a sense of security, it was also very limiting, thinking there's the "correct" road to success. I feel that now is the perfect moment to experiment with the art form and the expression, create communities and events that bring different flavors, and portray our own values.
It will require taking some risks, some leaps of faith. One such leap was our new What a Jazz home. While still in the lockdown, we've found this ridiculous space - an ex-prison transformed into an artist residency. It encompassed things we wanted in the new community: exposure and collaborations with other creatives, openness and experimentation, a hub for culture and arts. We're still defining it as we go, but it's been one beautiful, unpredictable journey so far.
They say 2021 was the year of breakups: people breaking up with shitty jobs, bad relationships, and toxic friendships. Me, I think I'm ready to break up with certainty and its promises. And just like in surfing, I'll try to keep floating in the unpredictable and unplanned without getting too overwhelmed by the waves.