We Are Artists Creating In the Moment

By: Tenley

That day the theater was more of a cracked-out dance gymnasium rather than a sanctuary to sit and indulge in a piece of soul-shifting performance art. It was dance competition weekend and the last of the year for my crew of miniature music box ballerinas and hip-hop princesses. I find at these competitions that my hands become laced with not only a sticky mixture of hairspray and glitter but with a strange combination of anxiety and excitement.  This is their world and they live for it. And I, although a prominent and necessary character, as a classically trained ballet dancer, do not fully understand the thrill of it.

And today was the epitome of this new world. So when the coaches and choreographers were graced with an hour break that afternoon, we drifted off to a lonely dressing room beneath the madhouse of a stage, to rejuvenate.


“Do something with my hair,” she says exasperated. “Braid it.”

“Okay,” I say, as I sauntered over to do the hair of my co-worker, partner in crime, and woman who had lived in a hair salon for the entirety of her life.

Now, I like braiding hair. Crafting hairstyles is something that makes sense to me. This piece fits here, that one belongs there. There are no big mistakes to doing hair. You can pick and place and try again and envision the path to a great up-do along the way.  But when she said, “You are an artist,” it really caught me off guard.

“Really, most people only see an end result,” she goes on, “but you are able to work as you see fit. I can tell by the way you handle each piece of hair.”

And you know what? She was right. I realized at that moment I had no idea where I was going with this hairstyle. I had found myself mesmerized by the task at hand. I was totally lost in it, and it did look fantastic.

“Perhaps, you missed your calling.” She shakes her head and sighs.


I’ve been thinking about this moment for a significant portion of time now.  What does it mean to be an artist? If art is about what you make of it as you go, then maybe I am an artist.

What else in my life was brewed by improvisation?

My most successful choreography pieces had been crafted in the moment and out of necessity. Put on the music, feel the rhythm and let it become you. I find my body will tell me what I must do to make sense. I rarely know how it will end until, well, the end. And sometimes, the endings feel the most genius of all, because they were created in an instance of passion without knowledge of the potential mistakes.  I had to move that way. It had become totally necessary.

Even my writing seems a flurry of  “What’s on my heart right now?” and “How can I put these feelings on paper?” When writing becomes my therapy and means of a healing process is usually the most beautiful, because it’s real.

My wardrobe is also a constellation of how I feel at that time, as well as my doodles and drawings of daily life and song lyrics.

But does this make me an artist? I think it does.


The break ends, the competition continues to shimmy and shake on. Eventually, awards are given, bows are taken, and the theater empties out.  But it will all come around again. If you haven’t realized it yet, this is a classic metaphor for life. “All the world’s a stage…” anyone?

If life is a stage and we are trapped in a society of competition, glitter, and glam then let’s make art of our performance. Let’s be passionate about what we doing in every moment. Let us create our story without confidence that it will end the way we planned. As far as I know, no one has Professor Trelawney by his or her side. And she thinks crystal balls to be foolish nonsense anyway.  Half the adventure is in the not knowing. Do what you care about; what makes you feel good.  Stand up for what moves you in the moment. If something doesn’t sit right with you, speak up. If you need to change, then do it. You are an artist. You create as you go.

Oh, hello!

Oh, hello!
We're Sarah and Kaitlyn, roommates from Milwaukee who started this blog to promote creativity and life.
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