1. How can we take “connection” from shallow buzzword to human experience?
2. “Whatever ever happened to…” (the magazine, the accelerator, the online studio)
In my last email, I pushed the reset button. I showed you a video we made for new dancers, a dancer’s guide that was pretty much written by you, and revisited our four studio values. One of which is “Connection”.
Connection. A point between two things. A word I hear a lot. A word I take for granted.
What does it mean to have connection? Is there a spectrum? Is it as simple as eye contact and as complex as sitting quietly along someone while they’re grieving? What does connection mean for the studio? For me as an owner?
The first time I realized the studio had really grown was when I walked in to teach one day and didn’t know everyone in the lobby. It was the first time since we opened that I didn’t know everyone by name. For a while, it bothered me so much. Honestly, it still does, but if we’re going to grow, it is going to happen. It’s inevitable. I’m one little gal with finite time and resources.
When I say “connection”, I am not just referring to something between myself and the dancers, I am referring to the way you see each other.
Imagine: there are 15 of you in class. 15 different stories and histories. 15 very different days leading up to this class, different worries and hopes. How wonderful it would be to glance over and feel just a bit of a deeper understanding of that story next to you, or to be understood. All of these wonderful humans to celebrate– how can we do that?
One small way is video. We can make small videos, highlighting the unique dancers at our side each week. Their quirks and dreams and wisdom. A different dancer, every week, chipping away at the disconnect.
Starting with Venessa.
A giant-hearted mom of 5 kids (all under 7 years old) who is an endless supporter and encourager, and one of the most dedicated dancers we know.
Whatever happened to? (AKA “why does your communication suck?”)
Through the years Julie and I have tried lots of stuff. Some have been wonderfully successful (hello, flashmob, Muvuca, Progressions, and samplers!), and some have been real flops.
Some are neither– they are great experiences that inform our next ones. One ongoing struggle for me is communicating when we decide to pivot, for no other reason than we simply move very quickly. I don’t dwell on things that didn’t work, but I also need to remember that some of these things mattered to others. Here are the three I have been asked about (and feel free to reply if you have your own “what happened to…?) question.
1. Infuse Dance Magazine- Oh, how we loved this magazine. Julie and I would pick a theme, pour through magazines for inspiration, select an aesthetic, divide subjects, evaluate what dancers need to hear, empty our hearts out. What a labor of love this was! A trip down memory lane, anyone?
With every new endeavor, we give it a benchmark– in this case it was six months, and at that point, we evaluate what’s working and what’s not. While the magazine was a beautiful thing, it was very labor intensive and required more time than we initially thought it would. It also was not going to be able financially cover itself. We loved putting out the content and have no regrets.
The Accelerator was a powerful lesson in community. The whole program was born out of my frustration with the vast and gaping holes of knowledge there are in the dance world. In the studio, we have time for one thing: movement. But movement is such a small percentage of what you need to know as a dancer.
Why it failed: It didn’t. We got to know some of our dancers in such an intimate way. Everything we learned is now being funneled into a new idea (More on that next week). The Accelerator ended for one reason: there are not enough dancers in Riverside who can commit to a 6 month program and give up the time required to cover even the bare minimum of subjects. There are also so may levels and interest, we cannot feasibly cater to all of them. To cover the true cost of the teachers and program, we’d have to charge $400 a month.
Some of you may remember last year when I filmed some “tutorial” combos to explore an online dance site. I spent about 4 months filming and editing.
I hated it.
Every day dedicated to this project was a day I dreaded.
I woke up uninspired every morning.
I kept going anyway, convicted that if the world is moving into the digital age, we have to do something. Ha. Haha. I stopped.
Here’s why: it doesn’t fit our culture.
My favorite thing about Infuse (and dance in general) is the community. It’s the process of classes where everyone is trying and struggling and winning and connecting in the process.
The reason I was miserable is because I was doing something outside of my core values, and once I realized this, I stopped. It’s a no brainer. The world can move in any direction it wants, but if it doesn’t fit with our culture and values, it’s a no-go.
Hope that gives some answers and inspiration. It’s long, I know. Hope you had some coffee.