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Professional Training Program students begin to arrive at registration.

There is a dynamic shift that happens at BDF this weekend. For those of us who have been here from the get-go, we start to adjust to a new energy on campus. Of course we are incredibly excited for all of the new dancers, faculty, events, performances, and classes to take place. However, there is something in the air that I’m picking up on, and I’m not quite sure what it is.

Perhaps, it’s anxiety? For me, anxiety is experiencing failure in advance. So, why am I so afraid of failing in such a nurturing environment? Furthermore, what am I afraid of failing at? As dancers, why are our nerves doing such a strange dance today?

Embodying vulnerability. Believe it or not, I think some of us are afraid of not being vulnerable enough.

Vulnerability and risk-taking gets back to this idea of what we are truly afraid of as young professional dance artists. I, for one, am not necessarily afraid of taking artistic risks and practicing vulnerability in performance — I am more so afraid of settling for less. I am afraid of not giving what I can give. And, I am certainly afraid of not taking everything that I can take while I’m here.

And so we find ourselves waiting for our chance to really experience vulnerability. During this waiting period, we find ourselves having an internal debate. Why am I here? What is my work? Is my work good enough? Well, you are your work. You are good enough. You and I are here because we’re addicted to vulnerability. With vulnerability, innovation and discovery comes. This is where rich work takes flight.

As Seth Godin puts it: “When we share [our work], when we connect, we have shifted all the power and made ourselves naked in front of the person we’ve given the gift of our art to. We have no excuses, no manual to point to, no standard operating procedure to protect us. And that is part of our gift.”

At this point, it’s not about where you came from, your dance education, or your resume. Most importantly, it’s not competitive at all. At this festival, it’s about getting back to that very human thing. As dancers, our duty is to connect to other human beings. Even if you just pick one person that you can impact for the better, with work that might not work — that is vulnerability and art in its highest form. It’s giving what you can give, and taking everything that you can take.

So, that “anxiety” that some of us are picking up on? It’s not really anxiety at all. It’s creative courage in the making. I can’t wait to witness all of these incredible professional-level dancers as they take flight.

This post was written by Ashley Yergens. Ashley is the BDF Social Media Intern for the 2014 summer.

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