Circus Act: The Art of Job Juggling

MFA Mondays

MFA rightEntering the workforce in Houston in 2011 was a daunting task, but I was gung-ho and determined to make a living that made use of my major. I had friends who had graduated and had ended up working in retail or waitressing. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with these professions, but they were not what I had in mind for a dream job after earning my MFA. I wanted to be a vital artist and educator in the Houston community. My first goal in getting involved in the Houston dance scene was to get into class, so my first “job” was actually an unpaid internship that provided me with free dance classes. Secondly, I wanted to perform, so, through auditioning and networking, I found myself dancing with two small modern dance companies my first year out. Thirdly, I wanted to teach dance at the college level, so I applied at all the colleges and universities in the surrounding area, and was hired as an adjunct instructor to teach a single class at San Jacinto College.

So can we just take a moment to talk about the adjunct hustle for a little bit?

Being an adjunct instructor truly sucks for several reasons. First of all, there is a limit to how many classes you are allowed to teach per semester at any given college. In 201Reahearsal 2 - credit Lynn Lane1, I was only allowed to teach three classes, or nine credit hours per semester, not that I was offered that many. Now, it’s even less than that for most adjuncts. Three classes equals nine hours a week at about $38 per hour. This comes out to about $1,300 a month before taxes, which might cover rent and electricity. For those of us needing to be truly independent, this just doesn’t cut it, and additional jobs are necessary. Secondly, health insurance is not included in the whole adjunct deal. Unfortunately, I turned 26 very shortly after I graduated from college, so the new health insurance legislation didn’t help me at all. So, there’s another expense to add to the list. Thirdly, job security is nonexistent. In order for college classes to “make” and actually occur, there have to be enough students signed up for the courses prior to the first day of classes. The magic number seems to be ten; if ten students are not signed up for the course by the first class day, the class will likely be cancelled, and guess what? That means you don’t have a job. Add to all this that your entire paycheck practically goes to gas for you to commute to all your different jobs, and we find that it’s a ridiculous way to make a living. I am wondering why we are allowing this nonsense to continue.

Back to my story

By 2013, I felt pretty grounded in the sense that I had acquired enough jobs to financially support myself without fully sacrificing a career in dance. Most of my conversations upon meeting new people went something like this: Continue reading

Texas Dance Improvisation Festival


This year, the Texas Dance Improvisation Festival will be held at Sam Houston State University.  We will be performing at  Texas A&M University during the festival, but we think you should attend!  Read this interview with Erin Reck, the organizer of this year’s festival.  The dates: Oct. 2-4, 2014.


73819_119232498138028_8255209_nWhat is TDIF?

TDIF celebrates improvisational dance in Texas and beyond, coming together as dance and music artists to share, inspire and challenge our improvising arts community. The festival opens with a Thursday night jam from 6:30-10pm, followed by two days of classes, performances, and jams with well-known teachers from Texas and beyond. Friday and Saturday night will feature performances by esteemed guest artist, Lisa Nelson and other festival instructors and participants, followed by a reception and a closing jam.


What types of classes will be offered?

Improvisation and process based classes will be offered. Classes that ask participants to be involved and invested in their own individual explorations and a collective awareness of  ensemble.



DSC_2788What if I’ve never been in an improvisation class?  Will I be in over my head?

Perhaps. But one must jump in order to know. If it is a new practice for you, I encourage you to be open to making your own choices about your movement, your body, and your connection to the group.



Can I drop in for a class, or do I need to attend the full festival?

Absolutely! Drop in for one class, one performance, or come to 6 classes and 2 performances. All for one cost. It is a sliding scale fee to continue to make TDIF affordable for everyone who would like to attend.  Pay what you can. The money that you give goes directly to supporting the TDIF artists.


DSC_3108If there’s one thing you can say about this weekend, what would it be?  What do you want the participants to take away from this experience?

Well…I cannot dictate what one will take away from a TDIF weekend. Some things that describe it for me are: fulfilled, enriched, connected, proactive, empowered, learn, create, collaborate, share, space, moment.