What does feminine mean to you? Does it mean wearing makeup, styled hair, and the color pink? Does it mean living comfortably in your skin…and maybe your sweatpants? It could mean being flirtatious or independent or fierce. One definition I found said qualities and appearances of prettiness and delicacy. To me delicacy is not feminine, but maybe it is to you. This is a topic I have always found interesting in life, but the answers I find tend to come from the female role models I hold so dearly to my heart. Femininity, for me, has been defined by my matriline (a.k.a. my line of descendants from female ancestors…thanks Wikipedia!). In my family, feminine is strong, caring, graceful, and family-oriented.
Just over a year ago, my family lost our Matriarch and one of the most gracious women I have ever known; my Grandma Gleela. As the year progressed without her, I began to notice the affect that her absence had on me. I missed her unbiased support, her knowledge of my absolute favorite things in life, and the joy she took in listening to me talk about anything and everything I could think of with a supportive and caring ear. If you ask me, she was an angel on earth. She taught me so much about faith, kindness, and love. Her relationship with not only me, but my mother, aunt, and two girl cousins bonded the women of our family in a way that it seems many other families never experience.
My grandma, however, is not the only amazing female supporter and mentor in my life. I am very lucky to have a Super Mom. She knows how to push me when I need it, and when to let me gorge myself on chocolate and just be sad. You better believe she is equally as biased in my favor as Gram was. She has been the perfect example of the working Mom I want to be some day; rocking it on the job, but never missing a beat in my life. Mom always makes sure there’s extra food to take home after family dinners (yes we do those in my family) and has always made an effort to understand as much as she could about my passion for dance. She is my cheerleader, my shoulder to cry on, and my biggest fan.
You can imagine having these two wonderful women as inspiration has had a large role in making me the woman I am today. It is the link between my Grandma, Mother, and I that I am exploring in my choreography for Cultivate. It has been difficult to translate the very distinct qualities of all three of us into choreography. However, it is a challenge that has pushed me to delve deeper into our similarities and differences, as well as the ways we support one another. I am quickly finding that the relationship between a mother and a daughter shifts over time. When you are young, a mother cares for you. When you grow, you move towards equal ground as independent adults. And as you age, you begin to care for your mother the way she once cared for you.
The last month has been the first where I have seen a shift to caring for my Mom. She is still very much capable of functioning on her own; however, we received the unfortunate news that she has Breast Cancer. Suddenly our bond seems fragile and I want to support her, as she has done through all my tough times. I know that we will both remain brave, make strong health decisions, and eat pounds of M&Ms throughout this process (ok, maybe not ALL the health decisions will be strong). I also know that this experience was the fodder for some of the phrase work you will see on stage in November. While my piece has yet to be given a title, I know it will be in memory of my Grandmother and in honor of my Mother. I am blessed to be working with three amazing dancers who are helping me bring a very personal story to the stage and am looking forward to sharing this work with the Motus audience.