Final Stage! – Cleo

Yesterday was the arts festival, which means that the dance section has been put to rest. Last night T. Will, in introducing the performance, laid out everything that I have done thus far. That conveyed the gravity of it all to me. I hadn’t even considered it up until that point. In my mind I was just making art. It’s what I do. Why would this be any different. But when he went through each step I started to think critically about my progress thus far, in my project and in art in general.

It started with the Interesni Kazki mural that I couldn’t stop staring at. And I looked and looked within it for a story that I could tell from it. And from that first story I looked to retell it in a whole new medium of expression. I started by reading the story to myself and drumming along to the rhythm that I felt the words already had. Then I built and built on it until I had an whole narrative once again. This one telling the same story, but at the same time a new story. When I came into the dance studio, I listened for that new story. I tried to free myself from just acting out what I had written and instead continue the narrative. Continue the transformation of the story being told. I lost a lot of what I originally wrote. It was no longer about such concrete topics: a fruit vendor seeking to make his way. But rather it was more broad: the yearning and desire to feel accepted and validated, and the freedom associated with liberating one’s self from that some desire.

Recapping what I’ve done isn’t the point of this post, however. What’s more important to me is looking at how this project has helped me grow as an artist. The music section was the first song I wrote where I broke free from concrete structures. I didn’t sit to think, “ok there will be a chorus here followed by a second verse and then an interlude…” Instead I looked to tell a story with a beginning and an end. Now I would say that that free flowing style of music is inherent to my style. I no longer make songs with A B A B C B structures, I let the music and the story I’m telling guide the direction that the music goes. I learned to do that from this project, because it forced me out of my comfort zone. It forced me to look at song writing in a new way.

Yesterday was the first time I danced solo in front of a crowd. It was the first time that I didn’t have an ensemble on which I could rely to mask my mistakes. It was nerve-wracking. Those who saw my first performance of the four probably could have seen that apprehension in me. But as I steered into the skid, and continued to dance through that anxiety, I grew confident. I took the lesson from the very story I was telling. To present myself and my art as it is, as I have envisioned it, and to perform it proudly. Once I shook off that nervousness I had nothing to worry about.

Finally, here’s a video of the dance for those of you who were unable to see it!

4 thoughts on “Final Stage! – Cleo

  1. mikehyojan

    Your last night performance was amazing! I did not recognize any of your nervousness regarding that it was your first time dancing solo in front of the crowd, so I am very impressed.

  2. trayhammond

    Cleo, I’m really sorry that I couldn’t see it! I had some dancing of my own as you may know 🙂 Thank you for posting this, though. I like your use of the space and how it corresponds to your emotion, like your turn in the center within the piece. Great job!

  3. perlinefeng

    Cleo, I saw your performance last night, and it was amazing! You did a really good job at conveying the emotions in your dance movements. I look forward to see your final project.

  4. nalovera

    I’m really proud of you for putting yourself out there in this way. Not only were you sharing a dance that came from within yourself, but you were sharing music from the same source, both of which are deeply personal things. You’ve grown a lot in the years I’ve known you, and I think your art is one of the places I can especially see this growth. It’s completely original and you, and I really love that.


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