The Longest Shortest Time

February 27, 2015

This winter has been pretty tame for Minnesota, but I'm far less tolerant than I was during last winter's infamous awfulness. Maybe it's that last winter was full of distractions - moving and starting a new job and Small Dances - that prevented me from being able to fixate for more than a few minutes on how cold I was. Or maybe it's that this winter's project, also known as Gestating a Small Human, has made the cold (specifically, its effect on my muscles) and the need to bundle in 6 layers (increasingly challenging as I get larger) more annoying. This is why I've escaped to the tropics. Last July, when Ben suggested we plan a winter getaway, I shrugged off the idea. That's the trouble with July in Minnesota: you forget about February, the longest shortest time. You forget about how sad and vitamin D deprived everyone looks as you meet their eyes at the grocery store. I'm very glad to be on a break from Minnesota.

There are many different kinds of travelers, which is what I learned when backpacking in Europe with various friends after college. It just so happens that Ben and I are the same kind of traveler. We opt for wandering neighborhoods and sitting at coffee shops and bars in favor of most of the typical tourist spots. We like a nice mix of energetic activities and chilling out on our itinerary, and just a touch of structure. Mostly we walk and eat and hunker down in our Air B & B to rest. Eating in this island town is slightly tricky, because restaurants close whenever they like (and regularly go out of business). Also, there aren't any legible street names, so finding some great place that you've heard about is hard unless you are good at following landmarks. That's ok- sometimes its more fun to grill up your own tacos and stare out at the sad, sad view from your one-room cabin that is bright blue skies and turquoise waves and palm trees. You know: a touch rustic, but with wi-fi (the delightfully irregular kind that makes communication with the outside world feel very optional.)

I like to think that I'm the best version of myself when I travel: spontaneous, anxiety-free, positive and easily delighted by the smallest things. I'm more present, and when I'm not I'm musing over the big picture life things that get shelved during the day-to-day. It's a big perspective check, easier when the lists disappear and you're in a place where no one knows your name. I can generally feel just as at home on an island as I do in my small house in Minnesota, and when I return to the latter, everything feels like a clean slate. 

Perspective is something that I've particularly craved in the last month. It takes 40 weeks (well, technically 36 by the time you know you're pregnant?) to bake a small human, which is simultaneously forever and no time at all. It seems evolutionarily brilliant that a million small changes happen along the way to this big change. In the first few months I slowed way the heck down out of necessity for maybe the first time in my adult life, which felt like a pretty shocking (and surprisingly awesome) change. Now I'm back functioning at mostly full speed, but I've found myself with this strange body that I hardly recognize in the mirror, that moves totally differently. (Also: what does a person do with this much boob?) On one hand, I'm totally impressed with my body's ability to know what to do and where to put things-- to make these dozens of tiny changes. On the other hand, I find myself in moments where I feel completely confused: wait a second, where did the old boobs go? I was kind of fond of them! Or at least familiar with them. And I'm used to knowing if a pain is a stomach growl or something I should be alarmed about. And used to knowing approximately how much food I can eat in order to feel comfortably full, with enough space to still easily walk. Everything is a little bit different. More so every day, and my sensitive self goes back and forth-- one minute fully embracing each change with pride, and the next feeling awkward and concerned. It's like puberty all over again! LUCKILY (says my inner self-help guru), I have the next 14-ish weeks to learn to flex and stay open to both the goodness and challenge, because I hear this is a skill I might need to hone. 

This all might sound ungrateful or at least persnickity, but it has little to do with my excitement for this new chapter or any kind of ambivalence I feel about parenthood or this very conscious decision to have a child; that's not the issue. I'm always like this when it comes to change: I equally crave it, love it and am challenged by the growth and stretching it requires (ha- literally this time). I'm too emo and sensitive to handle it all. I mean, Ben and I are the kind of people who get nostalgic for a meal we cooked last week. Throw a big transition into the mix and we feel all the feels (and then promptly change something else- because we can't get enough or something).

Strangely, when I think of the small human (who I refer to as "The Passenger") being here in the flesh or the big labor rally it necessitates, I feel surprisingly calm and even reassured. I am stoked to confirm that it's a person, and not the reptilian creature its movement often resembles. I'm looking forward to dozens of sentimental things that I will save for listing in my diary, other than to share one: Ben, who's adopted, has never seen someone who shares his DNA. And how cool will that be to watch? I'm saving up my tear stash as best I can.

I'm also saving up my stash of ocean zen, sleep and uninterrupted quiet. I hear they might be in short supply. Meanwhile we've almost made it to March. Nice work, winter troupers. 

5 With: Scott Artley

February 11, 2015

In these interviews it’s felt important to gather a group of people for whom the words “artist” or “creative” or “freelancer” mean different things, and people who have various relationships between their creative work and their income stream. I'm really happy to introduce Scott Artley and his awesome work as a curator and artist organizer, who talks about approaching administrative and curatorial work as part of his artistic practice, and making art is less traditional forms than, say, a painting or monologue. We're downright lucky to have great people spearheading artistic programs that strengthen our communities here in the Twin Cities, and Scott is certainly one of them. 

Describe your current creative work and what drives it or inspires you. How did you get to this place in your career? 
My background is in theater, but I would say that I'm a dabbler at heart. In simplest terms, I'm a curator and cultural producer. I'm very focused on process and on identifying the assets of an artist or a community, and shaping those assets into some tangible reality. I'm the Performing Arts Curator for Patrick's Cabaret, where I develop curatorial platforms to present artists working on the edge of culture, whether because of radical content, experimental form, or cultural marginality. I also own an independent creative consulting practice where I unite my background in nonprofit management and community arts entrepreneurship. Everything I do is united under a desire to support community-driven creativity. 

What are your biggest creative challenges?
I've struggled with the idea that I'm not really an "artist" in the traditional sense. My strengths are in organizing people and processes, and those are skills more commonly attributed to administrators. But I have increasingly accepted that being a "creative" is less about the form that your work takes and more about the way in which you do it. In my case, the way I do my work augments those around me, however they need it, and that is an intensely creative role. It's satisfying and full of rewards, but sometimes it's a challenge to reconcile that doing my work really well means making my contributions seemingly invisible while someone else gets the acclaim. In the end, I struggle with my own ego more than I'd like to admit.

How do you balance work that pays the bills with work that's creatively exciting to you? 
My administrative and consulting work is what really pays the bills, but my creative activity feeds my ability to approach that work with intelligence and insight. I regularly engage in projects that I know will produce little or no financial impact because I know that it's valuable for me and/or my community. When you do something with passion that improves people's lives, that's the kind of magic that you can't buy. So even when my shoestring projects are full of mistakes and don't look as great as my original vision, it's the impact on people that matters and what they remember. When you divorce creative activity from money it lets you do the stuff that's more interesting, and the more interesting stuff is what makes you gain a reputation for producing something of value. That said, there comes a point where you have to declare what that value is--and sometimes that means walking away from creative projects that aren't netting the opportunities or connections you need them to produce. I'll also point out that the only way being so opportunistic is plausible is that I work all the time: a typical week is 50-60 hours, with about 20-40 actually generating income. Finding balance there is something I've never successfully achieved.

Give some advice: what resources have been helpful to you? 
I was at a gathering once where Peter Howard, co-founder of Cornerstone Theater Company, which does process-oriented plays created in partnership with communities, was asked how he measures quality in his work. He paused, and said that he knows he's doing good work when he's uncomfortable--that if he's doing it right, he should always be steeped in the unfamiliar. That, more than anything, has guided my own work.

What local artists are inspiring/exciting you right now?
I am endlessly inspired by the folks organizing local movements around racial justice right now, specifically the Black Lives Matter and Million Artists movements. The most interesting theater is happening in the streets, and there's a lot to be learned there.

[Find out more about Scott's work via his consulting website or LinkedIn or company Facebook page. Find more 5 With interviews here.]

On Small Art

February 9, 2015

I'm plenty opinionated, but I struggle with committing to one thing. (Maybe that's why this blog space has had no fewer than 6 names in 4 years.) I think it's wanting it all; it's being afraid of missing out. Last week when I showed a little piece of choreography in a traditional theater in front of dance colleagues, I started thinking again about applying for grants to make big things in big spaces. I started thinking about being an artist. You know, all in! It certainly seems like it would be nice to be a member of the Real Artist Club.

And that brings me to another sore spot: fitting in. I've always felt like an outsider in life, beginning with the days I was a soymilk drinking homeschooler living in the woods of rural Ohio, refusing kool-aid and processed sugar at birthday parties. Later on it was my lack of pop culture knowledge that make me stick out (a byproduct of the homeschooling and the woods), and then it was the strange performance pieces I was drawn to making-- not quite dance, not quite theater. There's a part of me that has always wanted to sit at the cool kids table and to be really good at one thing: I am a _______________, just like _______________ and _______________. We probably all search (at least a little) for that sense of belonging and affirmation of our choices.

Last week I worked Hotline at the Walker, an installation where visitors can call a number and ask people like (*gulp*) me (?) anything. Someone called and asked how they could ensure being the next Van Gogh. I attempted to walk the line between being cheesy and helpful: you can't be the next Van Gogh, but you can be you, or something like that. We talked about developing a voice and how it's actually pretty problematic in the arts when your work looks like everyone else's.

I've been pondering my own advice as I think about what the next year might hold for me artistically. I write a lot here about how I'm a fan of parameters and assignments for making work. It's almost impossible to walk into a studio with the assignment to "just make something" without coming out with either nothing or something about as interesting as lukewarm dishwater. We need specifications and intention and restriction to create. When I choose projects, I try to begin with my 'why'-- why the hell do I make things in the first place? What can I offer that's unique to me? This helps me choose from what could otherwise be an overwhelming list of possibilities. 

What I keep coming back to is that I want to put my energy and time into making small art. And I'm not just referring to the living room performance series, but also to things that don't look like performance at all; 'small art' as more of a mantra or approach. I've been thinking about...

+ Committing to life-making as much as art-making: According to a lot of the art-as-social-practice folks I met through Open Field, there isn't much of a line between the two-- how we live our lives is how we make our art, and life is art (or at least can be); why would be try to separate them? In the last few years I've worked through some pretty intense life things-- sorting through a lot of my own emotional garbage, supporting my husband as he entered recovery from alcoholism and works to manage depression, learning how to, ugh, be an adult and create a life I like. And some of this intensity has made me feel less "man, I just really want to make a performance!" and more "wow! we made it! Let's quietly relish in this big joy. Let's take a nap and eat a meal and check out our Netflix queue." These moments, along with the seemingly insignificant nights of conversation with friends over wine in my living room, punctuate my life as much as any big project or achievement. I don't need to be pushing the boundaries of my art form in order to find value in an experience.

+ Coming together: My biggest passion is creating opportunities for people to come together, and I think that performance is a really great vehicle for this and that artists excel at encouraging connection. Ben and I have been working to find ways to fund and expand Small Art-- the performance series, that is. For now I'm happy to say that we'll be hosting another one on April 23 & 24. I'm also excited about finding way of integrating my own choreography/performance work into this small-scale, barebones format.

+ More dinner parties: And while we're at it, why not just have more dinner parties? (Or resource parties?) We had a super social January, and though I still think I'm more of an introvert at heart, I've really loved coming together with other humans. I don't need a Small Art performance to do this-- sometimes it's just nice to drink wine (or exotic sparkling water) with good friends or perfect strangers. (I had hoped to do a series of dinners with strangers this winter-- maybe it's not too late?) Point being: small occasions for coming together can be just as satisfying as the big, carefully planned performances. Again, the 'life-as-art' thing.

+ V is for 'values': So yes, I value intimate experiences with other humans, and opportunities to share the good and hard of life. And I also value living within my means and being able to afford my health insurance and being able to pay the artists I work with fairly. I'm able to make performance more affordably when I make it on a smaller scale with fewer dancers in a small (free!) venue. And yes, I do get downright jealous when I see 12 dancers on stage in someone's work. But, until I find a money tree, that's where I'm at. I have certain parameters I'm working with. I like to buy my groceries at the coop; I need to make my work with consideration to money and time (like a musician makes an album).

+ Art for me: I've been improvising more regularly on my own-- sometimes in a studio and sometimes in my living room. It's free, except for the cost of my time and the space (which is often discounted or free). I notice things that work...or don't...and write a lot in between. It might end up finding its way into a piece someday or not. But the point is: I find it satisfying and a nice way to continue to 'practice' without needing to commit to the expense of making a whole formal piece. And sometimes writing in this blog space is a really nice change of pace from performance making or directing.

+ Art for you: I've continue to find a surprising amount of satisfaction in producing and attending and promoting the work that other artists are making.

So, this is the approach to art-making I want to take this year. I want to ask, what can I do with what I have and how can I make it fun? How can it be used to make people feel closer to one another?  And yes, committing to this approach means saying goodbye to some things (and missing out on the cool kids' table) --  at least for now. Maybe 'big art' will be the thing of my 40's. I'm not closed off to the idea. 

[Photos of our small house by Marie Ketring for Pollen Midwest.]

5 With: Craig VanDerSchaegen

January 28, 2015

These words from Craig VanDerSchaegen are so inspiring (and full of good resources) that I think we should all read them at least three times for good measure. I recently read this post from Austin Kleon about the trickiness of making a living doing what you love, which I find really accurate. It reminds me of what Craig does so well-- making a living from his creative skills, but still finding plenty of ways to make his art for himself and to stay continually open and curious. Thanks, Craig!

Describe your current creative work and how you came to make this work:
My current work is all over the map, which keeps me from getting bored and burnt out on any one thing. I have a photography studio where I do headshots; I travel for personal/documentary photography; I do web development/consulting and have recently started making music again. 

I was a drummer for most of my life and took up photography while I was a software engineer in my thirties. About 8 years ago my younger brother died of a brain tumor and that plunged me into a deep depression. I did a lot of work to dig my way out because I saw life taken in a blink and knew I had to make the most of mine. From then on I’ve worked for myself and try hard to only do things that energize me.

What's your biggest creative challenge?
My biggest challenge is focus. Having lots of creative outlets is sometimes hard because I feel like I never dive deep enough into any one thing. Because of that, I suffer a little from imposter syndrome, which keeps me from sharing a lot of my work. That’s something I’m working on.

How do you balance making money and time for passion projects?
I’m very fortunate to have a few steady web development clients, and I’ve worked part-time with Minnesota Fringe since I quit my day job. It’s been a wonderful part of my life that got me through the first several years of running a photography business, which were very lean. 

I’m also fortunate that I love headshot photography. It pays and makes me feel good. I love working one-on-one with clients who are as motivated as I am to end the session with a great photo. It’s a nice compliment to my personal photography and web work, which is very solitary.

When I make time to travel, I book shoots to offset the cost of the trip. This works best in Los Angeles, so I go there the most.

Give some advice-- what resources have been helpful to your work and growth?
I’m very into self-care. Three of the consistent things that work for me are exercise, meditation (using the Headspace app) and a mindful diet. That combo really helps with anxiety/stress and I think of it as an investment in my future. Also, going to the gym gives me an excuse to listen to rap music every day, which I’ve been doing since I was 10 and find really inspiring.

I’m also obsessed with podcasts. I subscribe to nearly 30 of them, mostly conversational shows with comedians and photographers. I find lots of value in hearing about how other creatives work and live. I’ll share a list of them in a blog post soon.

Yearly planning is also important. Each January, one of my best friends and I have a “Masterminds” day where we recap the previous year and set out intentions for the coming one. I was resistant the first time, but now look forward to it. It helps so much.

Books: Brené Brown (Daring Greatly) and David DuChemin (A Beautiful Anarchy & How to Feed a Starving Artist). And the first book that flipped a switch in me was The Four Agreements. It might not be for everyone, but it was exactly what I needed several years ago when I was stuck in an anxiety loop.

What’s inspiring you?
I’m working on vulnerability this year, both in sharing my work and in personal relationships. 

There are two big things I’m excited/scared about this year:

1. I’m going through all of my archives and trying to make sense of my personal work and who I am as a photographer, with the goal of creating a new website.

2. I’m starting a personal project working with cancer patients. It will be something long form in a documentary style to help share these patients' stories and inner lives. That’s something that I wished I could have done for my brother, but didn’t have the strength for at the time. I can’t talk about this without noting how much Jim Mortram’s Small Town Inertia project has inspired me to dig in and do meaningful work, even if it’s tough. 

Also, I’ve started taking photos of my dad in a more serious way and have been experimenting with in-camera double exposure. It’s challenging and fun.

[Find more of Craig on his website and tumblr, or on instagram and twitter. Find more 5 With interviews here.]

5 With: Alyssa Baguss

January 21, 2015

A huge perk of working on Open Field was meeting a bunch of new (to me) and awesome artists. Alyssa Baguss regularly collaborates with the Walker's Education and Community Programs department in a range of capacities. For this summer's Open Field, she and printmaker Jenni Undis put together a cursive writing activity that helped us all brush up on artistic terminology-- you could learn and drink a beer and chat with a friend at a picnic table! Oh, the magic of Open Field... Anyway, it was a total treat to work with Alyssa and I'm so happy to share her perspective on making a career as an artist.

Describe your current creative work & what drives it:
My creative work can be split into two fairly equal parts: Full time arts program coordinator at Silverwood Park in St Anthony, Mn and my fine arts practice that involves drawing, works on paper, installation and community engagement projects. The line between these two roles is very blurry as both contain similar themes: nature, art, science and play. Sometimes my work at the park inspires my work in the studio and visa versa. 

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. Art making is one of very few things in the world that still consistently makes me happy. Through a series of internships, fantastic professors and a bit of pure chance I ended up in the arts programming world. I’ve always enjoyed strategizing, managing people, learning and engaging the public in creative activities. 

I try to be myself and do what I like. If I do this, I’m usually having a good time and have no trouble with inspiration and motivation. I have some pretty strong interests and I just try to own them: no apologies.

What is your biggest creative challenge?
Time. I never seem to have enough time to do everything that I want to do. I’m a workaholic and always have around 5 – 10 projects or project ideas bouncing around in my head…which can be good and bad. Because I’m a coordinator I am good at maximizing what I can get done in a short period of time, but I feel strongly about giving something my undivided attention-- being a good listener and doing quality work. 

How do you balance work that pays the bills with work that's creatively exciting to you? 
I’ll be honest: I don’t balance anything very well. I play as hard as I work, don’t sleep enough and regularly forget to eat. I’m not motivated by money and often find myself engrossed in projects that I’m passionate about that have little to no funding. I’m hustling all of the time to find revenue sources: artwork sales, commissions, teaching gigs, freelance programming, grants and more often than I’d like to admit, not so glamorous art jobs. I do what I can to keep the factory doors open and along the way meet some really amazing people.  

Give some advice: what resources have been helpful to you? 
Other artists are some of my greatest resources! Hang out with people that you admire-- whether it’s their work ethic, artwork, ideas, whatever. I learn so much from my brilliant friends.

What's inspiring you right now? 

Balloons. I have a serious crush right now on hot air balloons. I’m certain my family and friends have reached their thresholds for conversations regarding my love for them. I’m working on a few 2015/16 projects that involve helium balloons and/or hot air balloons. Stay tuned!

[Find more of Alyssa on Twitter and her website. Find all 19 mini interviews over here.]

Move, Then Observe

January 19, 2015

19 days into the year and I've been thinking quite a bit about my word for the year: motion. For starters, it's been about physical activity after a rather sedentary fall. I started regularly back to the gym in December and it was a huge mood booster (no surprise) and energizer. I mostly walk the track at the Y, thinking or listening to podcasts. Then I take a weekly yoga class or two and a Latin dance class (total entertainment since I lack rhythmic nuance) or I go into the studio to improvise. On days when the gym doesn't fit into my schedule (or into our car sharing schedule), I do quick yoga sessions at home. It's all become a good, nearly daily, habit. It's a relief to let my brain wander and rest from projects, and to manufacture some endorphins (HELL YES). And as I've experienced in the past, getting physical activity makes me more productive in other realms of my life...for instance, artistically.

Over the 3 plus years that I've been writing in this space I've been wrestling with how I want art  to fit into my life. In 2011 I was pretty sure I wanted a permanent break from art making-- it was feeling lonely, exhausting and expensive. In late 2012 we had our first Small Art, and I got excited about how these events were creating community, giving artists an opportunity to cross-pollinate audiences and ideas across disciplines-- and how these events required minimal funding/space/technical equipment. This led to making and presenting my own work in a similar way in 2013 and 14. But when I got done with my Small Dances project (March of last year), I was pretty tired of running rehearsals and heading up both the artistic and producer ends of things simultaneously (it sounds like such a great idea to switch venues for each performance, until you're rigging lights and worrying about spacing and sight lines each night, oh and selling tickets..). Open Field was just the break I needed: a chance to focus on presenting other artists, rather than my own artistic work, and (more importantly) an opportunity to work with a big team of people on making something happen. Resources outside of my own! Heck yes.

I've written that I wholeheartedly consumed the Open Field kool-aid. Working on a community-centered, participatory art project made me reconsider the importance of traditional venues and performance forms. Instead, I became more hooked on finding inclusive ways to bring people together and actively engage them around ideas or experiences.

So I've been thinking a lot about where participation and performance come together. This is a hard thing to research-- it takes time and money...and doesn't give you money. I have a lot of ideas as to how it might happen, but nothing concrete yet. So meanwhile I've been trying to focus less on obstacles and specifics and just get to work making something. Again: motion. This month motion has meant diving into rehearsals for BLUEPRINT PROJECT (which actually won't be performed until November), and making a little experiment for this month's 9x22 Dance/Lab. Rehearsals mean that something is happening. Even if I'm not doing my best word, I'm doing work. It's so good to move this muscle rather than wait to come up with a genius idea/project, because making art is nearly impossible: there's nothing neat or linear about it; it takes loads of practice. At this point I'm not making things with a focus (necessarily) on career; I'm making it because I like how hard it is, and how different it is from everything else I do in my day. It's like doing a crossword or eating broccoli.

Almost every creative person I know struggles with the balance between big picture and small, thinking and acting, grant writing and throwing themselves into the process. The thing that's been helpful for me to remember is that if I'm thinking too hard, I should probably just act. You know, when you're circling around and around an idea and not really landing just right on a solution? Just take some kind of action. It doesn't have to be the thing, it just has to be something. Move, then observe-- don't try to do both at the same time. 

5 With: April Sellers

January 15, 2015

I always look forward to seeing the dances of April Sellers because she's constantly committed to pushing the limits and boundaries of her work, so I know I'll see something really exciting (and at least a little controversial). Her latest dance, Big Baby, was no exception-- a really satisfying and hilarious combination of movement and text, drag and gender-bending. I'm grateful to have April's voice as a part of this series because she's great at telling it like it is. In the arts world, where we often makes assumptions that other people have it easier (or more funding or connections), it's refreshing to be reminded that everyone has their share of doubts, and that hard work and persistence are always required.

Describe your current creative work and how you came to make it: 
I am a choreographer. The current underbelly of my work is questioning what feminism is now and more importantly what my generation’s role in feminism will be-- what we will have contributed. I have been working on developing these tools in my recent body of work: the integration of text and movement, crescendo, improvised text based structures, allowing myself to repeat structures from previous dances in hopes of improvement, and non- linear development. I am also very interested in ensemble and making work that is specific to the ensemble, so that the work is an exaggeration of their experience or some part of their personality. 

My work changed pretty drastically right around 2010. I was recovering from an injury and questioning where I was going in dance, because at that point I didn't feel like I had reached the success or stature that I desired. I also wasn't having fun, and I had no money. Giving up dance wasn't a possibility for me, so I decided to change something about my creation process to make it fun again. One major shift in my work has been using text. I found that I had some skill and some tools for writing text and timing humor. I had always made serious, abstract work with a strong point of view, and I hope that I have now found a way of maintaining that point of view while delivering it in more enjoyable way for the audience.

I don't wake up every day anymore wondering if I will be a choreographer-- I just am.  It’s what I do everyday for work, and how I got here was through a lot of fucking hard work. I still feel I haven't even come close to what I want to achieve.

What are your biggest creative challenges?
+ My process takes a long period of time - it’s not cost effective. I have to live with a work for a couple of years to fully realize it, and take time to build relationships with my ensemble members and to build an ensemble sense of timing so they can anticipate one another in our improvisations. 

+ I work with an ensemble of four or five and typically don’t perform in my own work, so it can be very expensive to tour or move a piece around.  

+ I struggle to build relationships in my artistic community because I am kind of afraid of everybody. I have strong, bold opinions and speak directly, and am actually really reclusive.

How do you balance work that pays the bills with work that's creatively exciting to you? 
I have no balance; there is no such thing. I think of it as a moving scale and I am always running up and down the scale and the shifting is constant. Over time, the work I do for money and the work that is creatively satisfying have come closer together.

That said, I fail a lot, I don't pay all of my bills on time, I end almost every show in the red and I am dependent upon the generosity of others to support my work. I try to keep my bills to under 1,000 dollars a month or less because I feel like that’s how I can survive as an artist. Living a frugal life leads to more creative riches, and I am very good at not having any money.  

What resources have been helpful to you? 
The one thing I feel has more powerful than anything else in the creation of my life as an artist is mentorship, and I have been very blessed with a small handful of amazing mentors: John Munger, Judith Howard, Colleen Callahan, Patrick Scully and Laurie Van Wieren. These mentors have collectively guided me through everything from how to sharpen my choreographic tools and communicate with dancers, to how to write a press release. They’ve given me feedback about my work and helped console me when I failed. I am constantly grateful. 

What's inspiring you right now? 
I don’t feel a magical or grand sense of inspiration; I am always on the heels of one dance and precipice of another. I am making a new work with Judith Howard that will premiere in June.  And I am desperate to get back into the studio with my current ensemble that I created my latest work, Big Baby with. I feel like I have just scratched the surface of the pot of gold we can create together.

[Find April on mnartists and on twitter. Find more of the 5 With series here.]

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