You have got to be kidding me!

MFA Mondays

MFA right

One of the most beautiful aspects of graduate school is being thrust into an environment with an endless supply of encouragement. I have a relentless passion for telling stories in what I consider to be a less conventional method. The unspoken language that we all subconsciously use to communicate fascinates me. The choreographic process allows me to take such a subtle form and exaggerate it into a living work of art.

The encouragement to explore was something that I did not take lightly. I set personal and professional goals to create at least one new work each semester. With ample amounts of rehearsal time and space at my disposal, I could not help but take advantage of my situation and found myself creating up to five new works in a single semester. I was producing work on and off campus allowing me to show my work as much as possible to many different audiences.

Each time a new work was completed and presented, I was met with the same question, “what is next?” The consistency of this question created a pattern. I would jump from one project to the next with little time to re-flect, re-evaluate, and then re-launch with a fresh mindset and perspective.

During the processes I would go back to my AHAs and frequently ask myself questions regarding the intention, the clarity of that intention, and how I could make clearer choices. However, once a work was presented there was no time to stop. Curtain up, curtain down, on to the next. I had become that single-minded student, but instead of being focused on that single grade at the end of the semester, I was focused on the next.

photo by Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

Three years into my post-graduate career, I was still surfing that pattern. I had created enough momentum, in my opinion, to produce a full evening concert of my newest works. I can say that we sold out the venue. I can say that we received what I would consider a nice review. I can say that other persons raved of our success. I can also say that the duh! stick nailed me right in between the eyes.

As the curtain closed, before I could take a breath of resolution, the words roared in my ears, “what is next?” You have got to be kidding me! That night, after all the patrons had gone home, I stepped into the midnight air and without warning I stepped out of my pattern. AHA!! I knew I could not continue along this path in this way.

What are your processes like? Do you feel rushed or pressured to keep moving or producing even when you may not be truly ready?

Amy Elizabeth, named one of Houston’s 100 Creatives and Top 10 Choreographer in 2013, is currently an adjunct dance professor and artistic director for Aimed Dance since receiving her M.F.A from Sam Houston State University. Her work has been presented at DanceHouston, Dance Gallery Festival Texas, Houston Fringe Fest and venues throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona. Additionally, she has had the privilege of setting works at Lone Star College, Rice University, Lamar High School and will be working with San Jacinto College Dance Ensemble this fall. Stay in touch at

Why I Practice Yoga


or, how the creative process is much like my yoga practice

Making art is hard. Every time I finish a piece it’s like putting myself under florescent lights without my makeup. For an hour.  In public.  And (unfortunately?) the most compelling work comes from the most vulnerable and complicated places.  So if I’m making something great, it’s even harder to share it.  It’s like that PediEegg scraping off the dead layers to reveal softer, rawer skin, and then letting people see the shavings just sitting there next to my foot.  But hopefully prettier.

I used to hate yoga.  HATE it.  I’m pretty sure that is mostly because it is so blasted hard.  I was discouraged by how much of a mind game it was when I was there to do something physical.  It turned out that I needed to quiet my inner monologue (dialogue?).  I have a very strong inner critic.

Making dance is 98% process and 2% performance. It’s just so fleeting.  I often hear my colleagues talk about “post performance blues.”  And it’s so very real.  We are shoved into the studio by a desperate need to create something, we put forth unedited ideas while our inner critic steps in making us feel inadequate and ill-equipped.   We hone, question, ask people to tear holes into the work, and move through a cycle that often looks like this:

relief that thing in us is now out of us in some sort of physical form,

burst of energy from the thrill of doing what we love the most,

speculation of the work,

vulnerability in asking for help with the work,



confidence, doubt, pleasure, doubt,

rejection of the work,


START OVER (any number of times),

appreciation for the work,

utter fear,

performance/opening/premier etc.

We spend most of our lives in this process, in its exquisite pain, and then we birth it.  That lasts sometimes only a few hours.  And then it’s over.  Over.  Over.

If I’m being honest, and if I were to let my inner critic run wild, my yoga practice mirrors my creative practice.  My instructors consistently remind me that I can let it go.  It is my choice.  Class will always end in an hour, I will always get to return to shavasana, roll to my side in fetal position and reawaken to the day.  I always get to celebrate the journey I took on my yoga mat.  The difference is, I don’t have to wait months or years for a cycle of renewal and expression to complete itself.

Artists, I know how hard it is.  It can be so dark.  Find something in your life that has temporal definition. Something utterly hard that can come to an end after a short time.  We need victories more frequent than the completion of a piece of art.

Keep going.