Do You Fear Failure?

MFA Mondays

MFA rightI remember one of the last conversations I had with my mom. I was rushing from one job to another, having only thirty minutes to get from point A to point B in Houston traffic, and also needing to somehow prepare myself to teach the group of expectant adult beginners that would be waiting for me at my destination. The phone rang, and my mom, in a weepy and distressed state was on the other end. I rushed her off the phone, explaining that I had a limited amount of time to ground myself for the task ahead. I told her that I would call her back after class, and when I did, she didn’t answer. We never addressed what she had originally called about. She died less than a month later, and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I had simply taken the time to listen to her, but I was too busy living the dream.

            I remember that nearing the end of my grad school journey, one of my mentors told me that I should treat the next few years like a PhD in Dance and life.

It was good advice. I made mistakes, I learned from them, and I constantly altered my choices to adjust to whatever new normal I faced. But there were some lessons that I just did not see coming. There was no way for me to prepare for the death of my mom. There was no way for me to prepare for not having her here in case I get lost again. Now, the advice and encouragement that I felt was just biased, motherly beliefs, invaluable to me.

I now hold a full time position as the program coordinator of the dance program at San Jacinto College.

photo by Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

What started out as a single class is now forty plus hours a week with an office and health insurance. I am still actively performing with independent artists in the area, and I am regularly creating and submitting work. I am at a new level of success, in my book, and I honestly cannot tell you how I got here or how I’m doing it, but I can tell you what has changed.


  • There is a new normal – this new normal exists as a result of loss; a loss so great that it changes the very core of my identity. I am being redefined by this new normal, and it is inevitable.
  • I do not fear failure – while it is true that I have a whole new abundance of fears, a fear of failure is not one of them. And, while I believe that fear is generally stifling and destructive, I now fear things like not accomplishing all that I want to in life. This fear acts as a protagonist calling me to take risks that I otherwise might not.
  • I am more patient with myself – life is full of all kinds of hardships for which we cannot possible prepare ourselves. These hardships are capable of changing our reality. They linger and they sting making it difficult to face each day in the way that we did before. It will take time to adjust to this new normal, and patience is required.
  • I am more compassionate and understanding – I have come to recognize this quality, especially with my students. Do I want my students to make their education and career in dance a priority in their lives? Yes, of course. Do I want them to make it their top priority above all other things? No, of course not. As I told one of my students who approached me with the news that her mother had just been diagnosed with cancer, “It’s just dance… it will be here for you when you get back.”
  • Surrender is essential – giving into the moment is vital; whether it means surrendering to humor and allowing laughter to overtake the moment, or surrendering to a new idea in dance class that will eventually mold itself into a great learning experience. Sometimes giving in is more effective than activating.
  • I’ve decided that humanity is professional – on several occasions I have been overcome with emotion in the middle of a rehearsal or class. We use phrases like “I lost it” or “I fell apart” to describe allowing our emotions to be seen and felt. This gives these moments a negative connotation; like the release of emotion is something to be ashamed of and to only be practiced in private. Well, no more of this. I am a human above all other things that I am, and I am not ashamed or afraid of allowing my emotions to be felt by others.
  • I accept that I am exactly where I need to be – I heard it in class every Wednesday and Friday for three years. I didn’t always believe it, but now I accept it.

I am grateful for the time I had in grad school. It taught me quite a bit while I was there, but I think I learned even more from the absence of grad school. Grief is a process, and the process of grieving the loss of grad school has prepared me for much more in life. I am also grateful for the time I had with my mom while she was here on earth, and I think, I am currently learning who I am without her here. There is still a lot to learn, and I am constantly evolving. Hopefully, one day, I will look back on this chapter of my life and discover more than I thought was there.

Do you have a grad school story you’d like to share? Have questions or advice that you gleaned from grad school? Was it all that you dreamed of?  Or maybe not?  Contact us, we’d love to hear from you.

Jamie Zahradnik is from Wharton, Texas.  She attained her BFA in Dance from SHSU graduating Summa Cum Laude in May 2008, and her MFA in Dance in 2011.  She is also a certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst.  Jamie has performed with Rednerrus Feil Dance Company, and Psophonia Dance Company, and has most recently performed for local independent artists Laura Gutierrez, Brittany Theford-Deveau, and Rebekah Chappell. Jamie currently serves as a dance professor and the dance program coordinator for San Jacinto College. She loves sharing herself with others through performing, teaching, and creating.

Cultured Cocktails Tonight!

Free Events Thursday



When: Tonight!  March 26 from 5-7pm

Who: This is an open event, bring a crowd and have a drink while supporting Houston Arts.

Where: Boheme Cafe and Wine Bar.  At the intersection of Fairview and Taft in Montrose/Midtown.

What: happy hour where a portion of drink sales goes to support Frame Dance.

Music Strengthens our Social Bonds

Tuesday Tunes

Tuesday Tunes “In 2009, archaeologists unearthed a flute carved from bone and ivory that  was over 35,000 years old. This proved that even during the hunting/gathering  stage of human evolution, music was present and important to society.” An  article published in a psychology, sociology, and neuroscience web branch of the University  of California: Berkeley, The Greater Good Science Center, clearly shows that music has  been a large part of human culture for thousands of years. But, has it brought people closer together in this long period of time?  Have our isolating ipods and earbuds separated us? This question was answered by psychologist Jill  Suttie. Her writings gave us four ways that music helps to strengthen bonds:

  • Music increases contact, coordination, and cooperation with others,  
  • gives us  an oxytocin boost,
  • strengthens our ability to understand and empathize with others, and finally,
  • increases our cultural cohesion. 

Read the full article here, and fulfill your primal urge to make music today.


Did you know the Bayou Greenways 2020 project from @Houston Parks Board – Parks by You will create a continuous parks system along Houston’s major waterways? Come celebrate the progress and our city at #BayouGreenwayDay April 4!

The free, family-friendly event will take place on Brays Bayou in the East End and will feature fun activities like biking, kayaking, a fun run, Zumba, music and more!

The Framers are performing at noon, embarking from Mason Park.  Meet us there!


Navigating the Rut of Dissatisfaction

MFA Mondays

You are Here

photo by Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

If you are a dancer in Houston and you have ever taken a dance class with Jane Weiner of Hope Stone Dance, you are familiar with the classic manner in which she ends each class. She says something like, “Take a moment to find yourself in the mirror and thank body, mind, and soul for where you were today. It takes all three of these to be the artist/dancer/human that you are, and you are exactly where you need to be on your journey.” One day after a particularly invigorating and mind opening class, I thought in response, “Where am I?”

Some of you may have asked yourself this question at least once or twice in your life, but I really felt like it was the first time I had ever asked myself this question. I had made a lot of decisions regarding my life and career in the last few years, and it seemed that I had simply said yes to everything, hoping that it would pay off in some huge way. The reality hit that nothing had really launched me to the success I had wanted quite like I had hoped. Small progresses had been made, but I was still doing the adjunct hustle, still teaching in studios until 9:00 pm every night, still just making ends meet the only way I had figured out how.

I wanted and had expected more from myself in every area of my dance career. I wanted more performance opportunities. I wanted a full time teaching position at the college level. I wanted to create. Some of the grief came back… in grad school I had all this time, and free space, and free dancers to create and recreate. Without the convenience of all these gifts right at my fingertips, I had stopped creating and I was feeling it.

It instantly seemed apparent to me that nothing I had accomplished for myself within the last few years was enough for me. It was fine… but it could be so much better. I felt myself spiraling down into a deep dissatisfaction with myself. As a consequence, I also knew that another identity crisis would soon ensue. I did what I always did when I felt inadequate… I called my mother. There is something about the idea that your mother’s womb is your first home that makes you want go back to it each time you feel lost. We’ve all seen that cute little Pinterest quote that says something like, “you’re the only one who knows what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside.” You know the one I’m talking about? Well it’s true; no matter where I live, my mother’s lap will perpetually be my true home.

photo by Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

Mom said what she always said. She told me that she loved me. She told me I was not a failure, even though it was okay to fail sometimes, because that’s how we learn. She reminded me of all I had accomplished since my graduation, and to be grateful for all that I have. She reminded me that no one ever succeeded by giving up. And then she told me to look at the areas of my life that I was unhappy with, understand what it was that made me unhappy, and change it if possible. Mom was also convinced that one day I would dance for Hope Stone, so Jane, if you’re reading this, I’m ready when you are.

Now, I love my mom, but she’s a little biased. The woman was my biggest fan, truest supporter, and my hero, but at the time, I didn’t believe a word she said. But I did take her advice, and I did make changes. I said no to opportunities that I felt would not be fulfilling. I went after the opportunities I really wanted. I let go of positions that were not helping me to achieve my goals. All of this was good for me, and I felt progress, but I still had this overwhelming dissatisfaction with my life. I compared myself to others, and I just didn’t add up. I was in a rut.

Then one day, as I was surfing Facebook and looking at how successful and happy all my friends seemed to be at all times, I came across an article on the Huffington Post titled Why Generation Y Yuppies are so Unhappy written by Tim Urban. So remember that generation I was telling you about? The one that has it in their heads that they can do anything they want, like be an astronaut or the president? This generation believes that they are special and have special gifts to offer the world, and apparently they have outrageous expectations for themselves about who they will be and what they will accomplish. Sound familiar?

In fourth grade when my teachers and parents told me I could do “anything” I want to do, what I heard was I can do “everything” I want to do. I have lived life with this idea in mind, and it has served me in several instances, but at this moment, in the current economy, and in my current profession, it was not serving me at all.

So what did I do? I made a dance, and I made this the subject matter. I explored through movement and design this idea of inadequacy. I questioned all the different parts of me that seemed to be a priority. There is a part that just wants to dance; this is the part that craves spontaneity and a little bit of the spotlight. There is part that wants to teach and really make a difference in the lives of students; this is the part that needs the stability of a full time position in order to feel successful. Then there is the part that loves to create – to simply express ideas through movement, boldly accepting judgment, hoping that just one person might truly get it.

I ultimately found that each part of me was fighting for attention, and in order for one part to shine, the other two needed to take the back seat. What I concluded was that I was really craving wholeness instead of this compartmentalized, competitive, existence.

Knowledge can be a tricky thing, but I think what I now know is that we all have responsibilities and priorities, and, more importantly, we all have limits. See, I didn’t think that I had any limits. Sometimes we do have to choose, because it is simply not possible for us to have all that we want all at once. And maybe Jane’s right… maybe where we are, is exactly where we need to be at any given point in time. And maybe my mom is right too… that if we aren’t necessarily where we want to be in life, we have the power to change that. And maybe it’s time for me to trust both of these concepts and allow them to work together.

photo by Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

Jamie Zahradnik is from Wharton, Texas.  She attained her BFA in Dance from SHSU graduating Summa Cum Laude in May 2008, and her MFA in Dance in 2011.  She is also a certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst.  Jamie has performed with Rednerrus Feil Dance Company, and Psophonia Dance Company, and has most recently performed for local independent artists Laura Gutierrez, Brittany Theford-Deveau, and Rebekah Chappell. Jamie currently serves as a dance professor and the dance program coordinator for San Jacinto College. She loves sharing herself with others through performing, teaching, and creating.

Do you have a grad school story you’d like to share? Have questions or advice that you gleaned from grad school? Was it all that you dreamed of?  Or maybe not?  Contact us, we’d love to hear from you.


Women In Classical Music

Tuesday Tunes

Hey, Framers! Since it’s March, Women’s History Month, we’ve been thinking about women in music.

You may think of women as being very prevalent in music  today, but that is not the case, as shown in an article written by Dr. Christina Scharff. Her report, “Equality and Diversity in the Classical Music Profession,” shows some surprising statistics.

    • Women and people of color are underrepresented in classical music jobs and leadership roles.
    • Composers are overwhelmingly white men.
    • Women are over-represented in teaching professions.
    • Women make 83.7% of the average male classical musician’s salary.
    • Orchestra instrument assignments split along gender lines. (Harp players are mostly women. Tuba & percussion players, men.)

Dr. Scharff’s report also includes information about other inequalities within the music profession that are separating men and women.

This year, Frame Dance welcomes our first female winner of the Frame Dance Music Competition, Leah Reid.

Read the full report here.

Frame Dance Performance!


HPB_bdg_logo_neAbout Frame Dance’s next performance: Bayou Greenway Day on April 4


We hope you will join us at an exciting new community event from the Houston Parks Board: Bayou Greenway Day 2015 presented by Noble Energy! This free, day-long event will offer families the chance to walk, bike, run, stroll, play and paddle between park sites along Brays Bayou Greenway in the East End.


Event “hubs” in Mason Park, Spurlock Park, Gragg Park and Fonde Park – and the Brays Bayou Greenway trail in-between – will host fun activities for all ages. You will be able to start at any of these locations, enjoying activities and exploring the trails that connect the parks.


Activities will include 5K fun run/walk; bike rides, rentals and decorating; Zumba classes and dance performances; an interactive campsite; kayaking (for a small fee); giveaways and more!


Frame Dance will perform a work that travels along the bayou with elaborate time-lapse costumes by Ashley Horn.


Come experience the transformation happening along Houston’s bayous as part of Bayou Greenways 2020! Visit for additional information and an event map. Most activities free; April 4, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The Framers perform at noon starting at Mason Park.


Bayou Greenway Day 2015 is a project of the Houston Parks Board in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and the office of Council Member Robert Gallegos.

I hate the term accompanist

Tuesday Tunes


I hate the term accompanist,” continues Burnside. “You can’t deny there are connotations that it’s a secondary entity. But unfortunately I can’t think of a better one. If you insist on being called a pianist then people think that you’re comparing yourself to Sviatoslav Richter. That’s not what it’s about: you’re just asking to be taken seriously in your own right.'”

Who are Roger Vignoles and Anna Tillbrook? I didn’t know either.  They are musical accompanists– unsung heroes.  Read the stories of famous accompanists in this article here.  

Tilbrook says there are times when she has saved singers from embarrassment. “The real art is to have that sixth sense, knowing when they are going to have a memory lapse, when they’re going to come in a bar early or even skip a whole verse. You have to be able to cover all that in your playing, so smoothly that no one notices.”