Green Rocks – Or How Not To Turn Into Jade

By Angela Mazziotta


There was a time when the words, “express yourself” prompted me to don a white lab coat (or was it an artist’s smock..?) over a risky spiral sweatshirt and snappy pink sweatpants. It is important to note that I grew up in Southwest Florida, so choosing to wear a sweatsuit is obviously a radical statement. For added effect, and with perky purpose, I chose to pose with an identically dressed troll on my lap. Did I wear a gem in my bellybutton, too? None of your beeswax! I remember feeling quite pleased with the results of my meticulous efforts, which is evidenced in the wide toothy/gummy smile I’m sporting. Seven: that sweet, sweet age when entering your imagination is a literal cake walk with Funfetti icing. Self-expression is in everything you do and say and think – #nofilter. We (at seven) are pure, original, funny, strange and just discerning enough that it isn’t always an accident, but not so aware that we are self-critical. Our bodies are pretty alien, but haven’t sprouted wild hairs, odors, or chesty growths, so they’re cool aliens. Our friends aren’t obsessed with shaving their wild hairs, masking odors and making chesty growths appear bigger than they are. Instead, our friends see the vast potential in an empty refrigerator box and solemnly administer cootie shots when the boy or girl you haven’t yet learned to feel like humping bumps into you at lunch. Inside the mind of a seven-year-old, creativity and ideas whirl around easily. At seven, if some numbskull adult was complaining about being jaded, you’d think he or she had been turned into some prehistoric green stone. In a way, you’d be right.

Twenty years later, with a BFA in Dance Performance and a monthly student loan bill that exceeds my rent in San Francisco, I have alternately experienced unparalleled fulfillment and rock bottom defeat in my artistic pursuits. More than once, I’ve worn the numbskull hat and announced with a teenaged sigh and eye roll that “I’m so jaded.” Almost proudly – like it’s some medal of honor for making it through adult initiation. Actually, being jaded sucks. It is a condition that slithers into optimism, creativity and productivity. Dance making and performing without those things at least some of the time will turn you into a prehistoric, green stone. A shriveled, jealous lump on a log. An expired, envious stick in the mud. You’ll end up behind the times, with no support or friends and few prospects for going anywhere – unless someone picks you up and skips you across some water – or carves you into something for decoration. Not much dancing going on, huh? Granted, the model for pursuing a sustainable career in dance is pretty pathetic, and the grievances justified. BUT!!! Being jaded is a weird form of acceptance. It suggests disappointment and discomfort with a broken system and not doing anything to fix it. Stubbornly resigned to the belief that ‘that’s just the way it is’. It’s like staring at spilt milk, crying, and NOT cleaning it up. Get it?! #metaphors.

Aimed at dancemakers and performers, I analyzed the condition by breaking it into three categories: Prehistoric, Green and Stones. It became a game called, You Might Be Jaded If… Just before submitting this essay, I filled in a blank with this: You might be jaded if you are making a public list of ways dancers are jaded (and it feels good). It occurred to me that including the list may only perpetuate our tendency to indulge in a jaded state of mind. As an exercise in changing my own Jade Game, I’m omitting it. #progress #lifelessons. And for the hell of it, I’ve thrown in a couple hashtags, because I once promised myself I’d never hashtag in public. Sometimes ya gotta YOLO with the YOLOers, ya know yo? In everyday life and artistic pursuits, I think it is possible to chip away at some of that jade. Compromise without discrediting your values, integrity, potential and self. Notice when something softens you – jade is a metamorphic rock after all. With the right amount of heat and pressure, you may rediscover JOY for the thing you once loved with your chubby little seven or seventeen or twenty-seven year old heart. There it is – pure, unadulterated joy. Now let’s do the hokie pokey, babies, because that’s what it’s all about.