In four days, I am going to Edinburgh, Scotland to perform in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the biggest open-access performing arts festival in the world. I always wanted to go to the festival, but I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to perform in the festival, especially not in my thirties, after having two kids. I have my life in Davis to thank for that.
I came to Davis after spending years in New York City working in arts administration, watching dancers way more talented than me struggle to make ends meet and have their love of dance squashed by bitter competition, mean-spirited choreographers and endless egos. I never wanted that life, but I did want to dance.
It wasn’t until moving to California that I even considered a difference between dance technique and dance artistry. They are two different things, and here in California where there is a healthy distance from European high-art expectations and a desire to strip art of artifice, I could understand the difference. And here in Davis, I have been given the opportunity to feel the difference.
For the past five years I have danced in the Linda Bair Dance Company. Linda respects and cultivates the artistry that comes with wisdom and life experience. It’s not about how high the legs go, it’s about the emotion, thought, desire or image that makes the leg lift in the first place. I think some of Linda’s choreography stands up there with some of the greats, AND SHE’S IN DAVIS! She has chosen to live a life here, not the Bay Area, not New York or Los Angeles. And it’s because she lives in Davis that she CAN sustain a dance company for ten years and raise a family.
There are so many unsung artists in this town who are doing great things. And that’s the cool thing about Davis—if you want to start something interesting here in Davis, you can. While it is not necessarily easy and people may be skeptical, I have found that ideas are met with enthusiasm. The barriers to success are relatively low – costs are lower than they would be in bigger cities, resources like space are easier to come by and willing participants are plentiful. We are a town of joiners – we want cool stuff to do. Look at the success of The Davis Music Festival, Flourish Davis’ street murals, the Tour De Cluck, the Davis Dirt and this, the Davis Patch. They are the passion projects of individual people in town who wanted to do something cool and did.
I should say here that I am not going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with The Linda Bair Dance Company. I am going with A Mused Collective, a dance and music ensemble that is led by Abby McNally, a UCD graduate and longtime dancer with LBDC. I met Abby through Linda. Dancing in A Mused Collective is an entirely different experience than dancing in LBDC and it feeds different parts of my creative soul, a soul that was awakened when I moved to Davis and is continually nourished by my life here. I am so excited to experience Fringe—2000 shows in 200 venues in one city. But I am sure that after two weeks, I will be equally happy to bring some of that creative energy back to Davis.
I will be blogging about A Mused Collective’s Fringe experience at http://amusedcollective.com/musings.html.