What is a Jellicle cat?
Within these past two weeks, I’ve once again been nourished by talent, charisma, and feline poise. It’s no mystery how much I miss the stage. But when I’m engaged with such incredibly talented humans and then thrust back into my immediate reality, it reminds me how important it is to surround yourself with people who feed your passion.
As I have been healing from TSW (Topical Steroid Withdrawal), I have been working at a charter school. It is Day 1 back at the school after two weeks of teaching at Royal Caribbean and man… I already miss the cast and directors immensely. IMMENSELY.
The class I covered today did not have lesson plans for the kids. The office had nothing for me as well, so I improvised. My avid enthusiasm for Ted Talks led me to a relevant video by Ken Robinson (I’ve seen it before, so I vaguely remembered what he spoke about) on how the education system stifles creativity. Of course, an infinitesimal amount of students even cared to watch it. What I found intriguing though was how Ken used Gillian Lynne as his perfect example of how the education system is failing children.
Gillian is the famed choreographer behind CATS, the musical, which so happens to be the same musical the performers I worked with are performing on board. Ken spoke about how she was restless as a child and would most likely have been labeled ADHD in today’s system if the diagnosis was an ‘available label’. They felt she had a learning disorder and she was sent to see a specialist.
“… she was there with her mother, and she was led and sat on this chair at the end, and she sat on her hands for 20 minutes while this man talked to her mother about the problems Gillian was having at school. Because she was disturbing people; her homework was always late; and so on, little kid of eight. In the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian, and said, “I’ve listened to all these things your mother’s told me, I need to speak to her privately. Wait here. We’ll be back; we won’t be very long,” and they went and left her… But as they went out of the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out, he said to her mother, “Just stand and watch her.” And the minute they left the room, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said,“Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick; she’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.”
After that, she went on to be a part of the Royal Ballet, a major director, met Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the rest is history.
I fell in love with these beauties. Every time I work with Royal, I fall in love. It’s a recharge for me. I still pray that I will heal fully one day soon so I may rejoin these amazing casts on a stage. I cherish every moment I get with these groups when I’m contracted for these shows.
When I’m away from that world, I feel a lack of growth. I fear it may just be my hometown, in general. Time seems to stand still here. I scribble in my journal about my hopes and goals to get out of here, to run away to a different city and start anew. Not even anew, but just to find like-minded people in the arts, or those who are constantly seeking growth.
These dancers and performers are never finished, never done on their journey. There is always one more thing to tackle and master. Complacency is death. I breathe that in every time I am with a cast. They push themselves. You can tell they have found what they love and will do what it takes to keep that affair alive. And, right now, I am not surrounded by those types of people. I feel rather isolated. Not everyone I interact with is a “stunted seed”, but my city just doesn’t cater to people who wish to be watered, and I am so thirsty.
That’s my other issue — choice. When I was performing, I didn’t feel pulled in multiple directions. I had my passion which paid my bills, then I had my hobbies, which included photography, video/editing, charity work, and writing. Now, with performing off the table, I feel dismembered. I am working on my documentary, which is such a love/hate relationship at this point, and it doesn’t exactly pay the bills. It’s not a career. It doesn’t mean it can’t lead to something, but I am also needing to process other viable options. Do I focus more on photography? Do I seek out journalism opportunities? Can I mix journalism or photography with non-profit work? Do I concentrate just on the non-profit sect? Do I try and put more emphasis on my children stories? Should I stick to the athletic realm and find something there if my health permits? Do I go back to school for a psychology degree? Do I actually try to get into the film world with writing or directing?
I have so many different eggs, yet I need a basket that isn’t that colorful. Reign it in, Bri.
I do know one thing though — I’m not meant to be a middle/high school teacher. It’s like speaking to a wall some days, yelling into nothing, feeling my soul wither away trying to engage with children and teenagers who could care less that you are in the room. I literally gave a pep talk today that went in through one ear and out the other in less than 30 seconds. Literally, I counted. This is not a watering environment for me. It’s quite the opposite most of the time. I see potential in some of them. But, it’s not quite fulfilling to be called a bitch by an inconsiderate, entitled senior just because I am taking their phone away or to state the same instructions over and over again because no one is paying you any mind. It’s infuriating, really.
So, when I do get to teach aerial work at the Royal studio, you can imagine how elated I am. I pack my luggage with zest. I study the choreography with joy in my heart. I JUMP at the opportunity to actually play around on the apparatuses. It’s like being a kid in a candy shop. I am my happiest self in that world. THAT is where I love to teach. When a ballerina gets her first pull up or when a performer goes above and beyond what they were capable of under your care… that’s where the water flows.
Find your watering hole.
Are you mean like a minx? Are you lean like a lynx?
Are you keen to be seen when you’re smelling a rat?
Were you there when the pharaohs commissioned the Sphinx?
If you were and you are, you’re a Jellicle cat
Love, B. R. Banos