EDITOR: 20/3/2014 – You can see Tessa and the rest of the Soft Landers in a showing and forum, Friday 21 or Saturday 22 March 2014 at QL2. Details here.
As I write this I am still completely consumed by the experience of Soft Landing. Because that is what my experience has been – consuming. Generally in a good way, but if not, in an interesting way.
When I arrived I was nervous. It had been a year since I’d graduated and while I’d been involved in a few projects over that year, I felt I was going into something totally out of practice – with both dancing and being involved in dance. That said…I was interested.I wanted to know whether dance was still something I considered to be part of what I wanted to do. I didn’t feel ready to abandon it just yet. But I also have a confession. Prior to Soft Landing I’d been getting closer to reaching a point where I hated dance. Perhaps not the act of moving – but certain things associated with dance. I wont go into detail but I will say over the past few years a series of events have occurred that I associated with dancing, producing negative thought patterns that became really ingrained as my self-image and my perception of dance. This was something that I was frustrated with – I felt like I was stuck and I wanted to get out of it.
I guess I arrived in Canberra with few expectations but I was aware that Soft Landing was a program to assist tertiary graduates with their transition into a professional career. I was hoping it might give me a bit of direction for the future, help me rediscover my interests as well as alter the way I was thinking about dance. What I experienced upon arrival was a program of loosely structured intentions, giving us the opportunity and responsibility to guide the program on our own terms, for what we needed as individuals.
Soft Landing for me has been yoga, philosophy, contemporary technique, improvisational tasks, voice workshops, some contact and ballet, reading, writing, thinking, discussing, listening, sharing, moving, imagining. But aside from that it has been an opportunity for personal reflection and development. It is a journey we have all shared as a group, but for me it has also been a very individual experience.
Prior to Soft Landing something I had really never considered to be important to my dance practice was the relationship I had with myself. Throughout the program this came up for me constantly – I found I was always in a battle against myself; judging, assuming, doubting, undermining. These habits have existed for a long time and held me back from so many things. Something else that came up frequently was my struggle to share and vocalise my thoughts and feelings. Sharing is such a huge part of Soft Landing and I now feel quite sad that I haven’t been able to fully commit to this. Sharing with others is something that is quite overwhelming for me but Soft Landing has helped me to recognise this and decide that it is not something I want to be attached to. I am ready to be open and comfortable with sharing my thoughts and feelings with others. I don’t believe this is something that will happen overnight, but Soft Landing has prepared me to begin letting go of negative feelings associated with sharing.
During this program I have felt constantly challenged, as well as physically, mentally and emotionally drained after each day. I have experienced fear, personal judgement, uncomfortableness, self-doubt, anxiety and sadness, but also excitement, freedom, happiness, lightness, progress and a re-discovered interest and engagement in dance. It has been incredible to share this experience with such an amazing group of young artists, and to be guided by Amelia McQueen and Natalie Abbott. The environment at QL2 is completely supportive and I feel like Soft Landing is the perfect place for young artists to challenge themselves, identify and develop their practice, voice concerns, share ideas, reflect, question, and grow as individuals.
I feel like I have not yet realised the full potential benefits of Soft Landing. It is something that I am taking one day at a time. But my experience has been beyond valuable. Soft Landing has taught me that it’s ok to put myself first. It’s ok to have judgements, but to notice when I do and let them go. It has taught me to strive for happiness within myself. It has taught me how important it is to engage with others – to be able to talk about myself, my own practice, about dance. And it has taught me to take things lightly – to be open to the new, different and unknown. I’m not suggesting I can fully embrace all of this right now – I am still coming to terms with many of these things and more. But I am excited to be putting all I’ve learned into practice – however gradual this process is!
But I’m writing this with a few more days left in the program…and from what I’ve experienced so far – Anything could happen!
EDITOR: About Soft Landing
“Soft Landing is about you, a performing artist and human being. An annual project of QL2 Dance. You will have the opportunity to choreograph, perform, train in and teach dance among a group of committed and skilled artists at similar stages in their career, while being lead and supported by experienced dancers and choreographers.
You will be challenged to make decisions about yourself and your art practice.
You will train physically and engage creatively.
You will contribute creative tasks relevant to your interests.
You will support your peers and bring their concepts to life.
Together, you will debate, reveal, feel, talk, eat, dance and WORK!!
Soft Landing is designed to develop your capacity to respond to creative challenges with professional rigour, choreographic intelligence and an awareness of context. More importantly, it will bring awareness and clarity to your personal beliefs and morals so that you can powerfully navigate your life as an artist.”