Elizabeth Gilbert (best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic) says that ideas float and swirl around in the universe, looking for available and willing human beings. If the human is ready to accept the idea, care for it, see if grow, then it stays. If the human isn’t ready, ignores or pushes the idea away, it will simply leave and seek another human. My idea found me on January 27, 2017. It adapted itself to fit into my life and by the following week, I knew that I had to pursue this with my whole being.
I suppose it really started when I took my first ballet class at the age of 6. Or maybe it was my first big role in a full-length ballet. Or maybe it was the family trips to the South Carolina coast, where we played in the surf, built amateur sand castles and took long walks on the beach. Long walks for thinking, for talking, or just for walking in the surf; watching and feeling the ebb and flow of the tide. Regardless, I was building up to this my entire life, you see.
As a young girl, I pursued the dream of being a ballerina. I don’t know if it was my dream or my mother’s, but I excelled at ballet and I loved it, too. I danced and learned and lived. Then life took a different turn when my family moved from South Carolina to Iowa, so I jumped into the myriad of extracurricular activities available at my high school to replace the loss of dance. Fortunately, ballet wasn’t done with me. I returned to my love at a large Midwestern university, while still yearning to someday return to the ocean, as well.
The months and years rolled by; I graduated, got married, had 2 wonderful daughters, and built a successful corporate career. But I missed ballet. So I did what every former ballerina with daughters does – enrolled them in dance classes. They acquired good genes and took to it like ducks to water. I watched benevolently through the classroom’s observation windows. But you know what’s coming, don’t you? I couldn’t sit there and just watch, although I tried, I really did. With my laptop open, finishing work that was interrupted when I left the office early to drive the girls to the studio. Eventually, I had to get back into that ballet studio. I knew my days as a dancer were behind me, but with the wealth of knowledge that I had from years of truly outstanding training, I figured I could teach. I took to that like a swan in her favorite lake!
Thus, I began my dual life as a corporate executive and ballet teacher in 2000 – first assisting, then teaching, and eventually choreographing original works. I often joke that one job fills my retirement account and the other fills my soul. But it’s not really a joke. It’s the best description of my life through the last 17 years. I have had the opportunity to teach with and learn from some amazing and extremely talented teachers and choreographers. I built relationships and taught many wonderful students. My students won awards and my choreography was recognized. However, another change was coming.
My corporate career wasn’t as fulfilling as it had once been. My youngest daughter had graduated college and was beginning her wonderful adult life across the country. This was my chance to do whatever I wanted to do. Great! Exciting! Overwhelming. Scary. Limitless.
I visited a few countries with beautiful beaches, warm weather and wild coastlines. Each one tempting me to stay. But how could I leave ballet again? Or did I even have to? Certainly there were small dance schools in the areas that I wanted to try on for size. Maybe I could teach in one of them. Maybe I could just be a pre-retirement beach bum for a while. Then it happened. At the moment when I became comfortable with not having a plan… the idea struck. It struck hard and it grew. Within a week of it’s first appearance, it had grown into an outline for the nonprofit that has become Trifecta Arts. My purpose for the next phase of life is to create and advance performing and visual arts opportunities in under-served parts of the world. Expanding my opportunities to share my love of ballet with students and aspiring instructors around the world.