Yesterday marked Principal Dancer Artur Sultanov's 30th Birthday, which at OBT comes with the passing down of a certain shirt (see photo). Apparently this shirt has been passed down to company members on their 30th birthday for about 8 years now, and I thought it would be a really great tradition to share with you all. It reads "30 and still frisky." Which, clearly, Artur is. :-).
In other news, yesterday began our 5 week layoff between our fall program and The Nutcracker. Every year we dancers go through a series of layoffs between programs, and the length of these layoffs vary from season to season. This season my contract was reduced from 34 weeks to 25 weeks (I won't be dancing in the "Duets" program in the spring), meaning I'm working less than half the year. So stay tuned because I'll be sharing with all of you the ways in which I'll be getting creative to stay in shape and hopefully earn a little money. I have no current plans to search for retail work, but upcoming "projects" include: OBT Uprising with fellow Soloist Candace Bouchard (www.obt.org/uprising), a possible tour with a small group of OBT dancers, dog sitting, teaching, a trip to a warm beach (this is neither keeping me in shape or generating income, but hopefully will boost my morale and sanity), and time spent with friends. Who knows, I might even do something crazy like clean my apartment! Anyway, I thought it would be interesting for all of you to know not just what goes on when I'm rehearsing and performing with the company, but also what I'll be doing with the remaining 27 weeks of the year.
I want to be clear that none of this is coming from a place of anger, but that I think it's important to share what it really means to be a ballet dancer in today's economy. There was a recent Oregonian article about how the dance world is adjusting to the recession (http://blog.oregonlive.com/portlandarts/2009/10/the_dance_world_adjusts_to_the.html) and in it Andrea Snyder, the Excutive Director of Dance/USA, is quoted as saying "I don't think it is as dire as people project it; when you never have anything to begin with, you don't lose it." I couldn't really disagree with her more. We didn't have nothing, we had very little, and when you take anything away from very little, it is felt more severely than when something is removed from a larger amount. She did mention how creative we are and how that leads to resilience, which I completely agree with. We are very creative people by nature (go figure), but at the same time, creativity is not as valued as productivity in our culture.
All of that said, I feel very fortunate to have the job I have, and to dance for Christopher, OBT, and Portland. I really love this city, and I don't think I could find a better group of people, dancers and staff, to work with and I'm excited about all of the upcoming challenges and growth that will be taking place.
Hope you are all enjoying this AMAZING fall foliage!