You learn a lot when you live in a place for ten years. I have really grown up in Kansas City. As my "retirement" approaches, I am finding myself reflecting not only on the successes of my career and what I have learned onstage, but also that which I have gleaned from life experience offstage.
One thing that dance has taught me is that without heart and the emotional commitment to one's work, the art form is shallow. When you don't bring every emotion to a role, whether it be character or abstract, you miss out on the chance to make great discoveries. While making these discoveries, you learn how far to take a role. You definitely learn when you've taken it too far, and sometimes this can be a sobering thing. It can result in a bad revue or ending up on your ear. Nevertheless, you have to be willing to take the risk in order to reach one's fullest potential. Learning this over the years has made me grow from a school student into an artist. I don't have to be everyone's favorite artist, but I know that an artist I am.
I want to take this a bit further and point out that this has helped me offstage. Dancers are passionate, and we often have a hard time leaving this passion at work. There are direct relationships to what I said above and how I have conducted myself in my life that have taught me many things. I have learned when I am playing it too safe. I have also learned from the times I have taken risks and have gone too far. Those times have been painful, but I have learned the most from them. Those times were/are needed in order to figure out who I am as a person. I'm not there yet, I'm pretty sure it will take me the rest of my life. (well, duh.)
I love that I am able to take what I have learned from my chosen profession and apply it to my life. Every artist has his or her own relationship to their craft. Some may see it as I do, but some may be able to detach and simply do it as their job and be fulfilled by that. One way is not more correct than the other. However, what I have shared is my experience, and I hope that I will continue to learn as I go. It's painful to learn from mistakes, but oh, the hope of being a truly great artist and even further-a truly great person would be such a dream come true.