Sh*t I’ve Got Going On (SIGGO) 001: Elevate Chicago Dance 2018

There’s a real sweet spot as a maker between feeling like you aren’t doing enough and having WAY too much going on — Career Dysmorphic Disorder, if you will. I’ve always had this belief that I was lazy. When I track down the origin, those implications were handed down to me from teachers of subjects I didn’t feel connected to, and managers of soul-depleting jobs. What I didn’t receive marks of low effort for were strings of back-to-back dance classes (taught or taken), or all-day tech rehearsals — definitely not when I enter my springtime grant-writing cave. Yes I have the millennial curse of only exerting enthusiasm toward work I believe in. I know. We’re nuts.

The only thing now is, I find myself unable to shut off. It’s a lovely post-autumn solstice Sunday, and I’ve basically peppered in reading and writing at a coffee shop (that’s what people with off time do, right?) between campaigning for my next project, reviewing resumes for my assistant position, and dreaming up new projects. I never feel over-worked until the stress manifests itself into physical and mental illness. So what’s the solution?

I present to you: Sh*t I’ve Got Going On

 

This is a writing habit of mine that’s just under a year old that has helped me realize what friends have been telling me for a while now – “You’ve got a lot of shit going on!” Indeed. In my bullet journal, I’d map out the projects I have presently going on in chronological order (until I have to squeeze in a project I of course forgot while racking my brain”. In a section after, I map my future projects, then future prospects. Underneath I bullet-mark my tasks associated with these projects, as well as important dates. Simple enough, right? I’ve credited my SIGGO system for keeping my head above water while systematically turning my quirky visions into reality.

 

Now I want to go further.

 

The aspect that my current SIGGO system isn’t touching on, is the ability to artistically articulate just what the point of these projects are in the first place — and no I don’t mean the fancy artist statement version. I mean being able to tell MYSELF what the stress, time, energy, and collaborative effort is worth, and reassurance of the immense joy I’ll feel once it’s completed. So without further ado, my first SIGGO!

ELEVATE CHICAGO DANCE 2018!

 

I’m participating for the first time in the Chicago Dancemakers Forum all-day dance festival. My collective will join 44 other artists & companies in presenting work related to dance, race, space, and place (bars). We’ll be in the gorgeous Chicago Cultural Center and best of all it’s free-ninety-nine to the public!

 

This presentation is a little different in that it’s actually an open workshop! Both the dance and the music collective will use improv & African Diaspora-informed vocabulary to compose a piece in real time. It’s in an effort to showcase our process of production, because I have no idea — may as well find out together! Up to 5 dancer and up to 5 musicians will be involved, and there will be an open panel discussion directly following. What will we discuss? Who knows? Whatever is relevant and interesting to those who stuck around will do beautifully.

 

How are we preparing? Again. Not a clue. What I enjoy most about dance composition and the rehearsal process is that I have no idea what’s going to happen until I’m in the space with the dancers and musicians. I do know that rehearsals are starting asap and I’m still looking for some open-minded improv movers & musicians to explore with over the next month.

If that sounds like you, email me @ hello@brittanyharlin.com so we can set this up! Rehearsals are in Pilsen and we’re flexible!

Oh right. Why is this project important to me?

Just yesterday I visited a space activation in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood hosted by the organization Creative Grounds. The space? Anthony Overton Elementary — or what used to be. Designers and visual artists alike activated nearly every room in the former school, highlighting what was, what is, and what could be in this truly beautiful, light-filled architectural marvel. The displays were dope — don’t get me wrong, but standing in one of the 49 (FOURTY. NINE.) elementary schools that was quite literally designed for excellence in the midst of marginalized communities? Well, “a bummer” might be a bit of an understatement. In my dancer brain I obviously thought about how many dance studios could fit in this place comfortably, and how they would resemble the Joffrey thanks to it’s gorgeous studio-length widows boasting Ferngully views. If you don’t know that movie, you’re too young for me, bro.

Any who, the work put into this space activation sparked inspiration in me, and empowered me as a maker and educator to look at the vast resource of underutilized space in this city and create solutions. I’m looking forward to empowering my fellow performing artist to incorporate discussion, strategy, craft, and follow through into creating seamlessness in our art and activism.

For more information on Elevate Dance Chicago, please visit their page.

To learn more about Creative Grounds, please visit their site.

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