Editorial Note: Each August for the past four years, I’ve asked dance artists at different points in their careers what “making it” means to them. Please join us this month in looking at what “making it” means as a dancer, artist and human.
BY ERIKA FARKVAM
I frequently entertain the idea of “making it,” but I don’t think I’ve ever really spearheaded this question full-on. “Making it” correlates to my ideas of success, which have evolved as I’ve evolved as a dancer. Is this a convenient form of self-justification in order to make myself feel better about what I’ve accomplished and how I’ve gotten to where I am? Perhaps, but I think it’s an important evolution, and should never or can never really be stagnant. I am in constant motion of making it has a dancer.
Growing up, I envisioned myself dancing in an established contemporary dance company. That’s what I thought it meant to be a dancer: a generic idea that you are only a professional dancer if you dance in an established company. As a result, I’ve heavily relied on external validation. I became a people-pleaser to a fault, attempting to satisfy everyone but myself. I never felt like I was good enough. However, I’ve begun to learn that this view is detrimental to my growth as an artist and person.
For me, “making it” has been learning to let go: learning to let go of a narrow-minded idea of success and the notion that there is an end point. “Making it” is hanging on to curiosity, a sense of adventure, joy, joy in discomfort and joy in the unknowing. “Making it” is practicing the process of letting go, and acknowledging and accepting responsibility for the choices I’ve made that have brought me to this current place.
I didn’t think I would move back to my college town shortly after graduating. Feeling slightly embarrassed about this somewhat naïve choice, I found a welcoming dance community outside of the university that provided me with opportunities I may not have had if I had been in a larger company. I learned I find satisfaction in the flexibility of working with smaller companies and individual choreographers and projects. I never thought I would be doing some of my least favorite things – talking on the phone, sitting, listening to people spew complaints about their toilets and noisy neighbors – in order to support myself in the pursuit of dance. Even though my day job at a residential property management company has nothing to do with dance, it affords me the time, and gives me more fuel to continue to “make it” in dance.
Dance has been so many things. Even if I were to fade in and out of the dance community, it still carries a huge weight of importance in all aspects of my life.
To strive and continue to “make it” means being bolder in my choices and confident in my voice as a dancer; making dance more accessible to broader audiences: giving myself time and space; noticing my needs, wants, urges, desires, and knowing they are valid; working to make dance sustainable for myself and the dance community; knowing that dance is dynamic and there are many paths. It’s exciting to think I can still make changes and I don’t have to remain stagnant. I hope to be gentler with myself and the choices I make as I evolve, and acknowledge that my success does not have to be held by a narrow-minded idea. Dance is a lifelong endeavor, and I would be incredibly unsatisfied if there was an end point.
Erika Farkvam graduated from the University of Arizona in 2009 with a BFA in dance. Upon graduating, she continued dancing and choreographing in Tucson with New ARTiculations Dance Theater. Erika currently lives in Chicago where she has performed for Momenta, The Inconvenience, Erin Kilmurray, The Fly Honey Show, Darling Shear, Kate Corby Dance, and is currently in her second season with RE|Dance Group.