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Desert Rat in the Big City

A moment of reflection from a small town girl who got over her "lonely world" real quick!

I’ve been a big city dreamer since I can remember. I was fantasizing about performing on the worlds’ grandest stages when my only available venue was a coffee table in my childhood home. I knew it was my destiny to entertain, and I was a girl with a mission from the time I stepped into my first dance class back in ’99!

Photo credit: Scott Hubbard Photography 2016

Fast forward fifteen years or so…graduating high school in Tucson, Arizona with the same unstoppable drive I felt as a tiny tot in tap shoes. But now it’s getting REAL! There isn’t a single entertainer on either side of my family tree, I’ve never even considered a “fall-back” career, and everyone around me wants to know…what’s next?? I was lucky enough to fall in love with teaching as a teenager and was given invaluable opportunities to develop my voice as a choreographer and instructor into my early twenties, but  I was hungry for more!

In April of 2016, I packed my entire world into my little red hatchback and followed my heart to the city that everyone told me would “eat me alive”. The challenge of living on my own for the first time in Los Angeles terrified me so deeply that I just KNEW it was the leap I needed to take to ~make all my wildest dreams my reality~.

Of course, my first year was anything but a dream sequence, I slept on a deflated air mattress, I popped popcorn and cleaned up movie theater puke, fended off every apartment pest known to man, survived on catering scraps, and felt my rose-tinted relationship with dance become a constant battle to try to figure out what I needed to change about myself to be what every agent was looking for. Yikes!!

Being the stubborn Aquarius that I am (Leo sun/Taurus moon…if you know, YOU KNOW) I was not about to throw the towel in and let “the city” get the best of me. I had watched friends come and go with this same excuse…always blaming “the city” as if the freeways had grown teeth, chewed up their dreams, and spit them out. It took the departures of these jaded folks I’d surrounded myself with to realize that I had grown attached to this idea of fitting into a mold that I didn’t even want to fit in with to begin with! I had spent my formative years clinging to Lady Gaga’s every decree to “love myself”, and somehow I still spent every morning looking in the mirror trying to find what was wrong?! First I got angry…I felt like I had missed out on so much...but then I got inspired.

Deciding to follow my own path was the ultimate turning point! I found myself working jobs that valued me and encouraged me to exercise all of my passions, I created a community of friends and mentors who I will cherish for life, and I fell head over heels in love with this chaotic flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants lifestyle. Thank Gaga I decided to stop obsessing over what everyone else around me was doing, I probably wouldn't have learned as much about myself and what it means to be a "professional dancer" if I'd continued let that pressure define me. Being the truest form of Jeze I can be continues to connect me to like-minded individuals and their causes, and I can't help but think that if I hadn't made that fateful nine hour drive to the City of Angels, I may have comfort-zoned myself out of all this GROWTH!

Of course there's always going to be a struggle--whether it's finances, traffic, or just good ole burn-out--but every night when I collapse onto my bed looking out at Sunset Blvd, I reminisce on every challenge that felt like the ultimate obstacle and beam with pride, cause I've handled it all and better yet, I'm still here (also helps if I have Tap That rehearsal the next day, hehe)!! All this reflection is more than just a little self-reminding moment...I hope that any small-town reader that comes across this entry is inspired to overcome that ever-present fear that they aren't "meant to be" in the industry of their dreams. It's never going to be a walk in the park (especially thanks to systemic oppression of generational wealth...but that's a whole 'nother Oprah am I right? lol) but there's room for you and your unique voice! Can't be a trailblazer if you stay walking the beaten path, right? 

Take it from this desert rat, (side note, why do we Arizonans call ourselves this...why can't we just be like cactus babies or something cute??) no amount of fame or fortune compares to filling your days with the stuff that makes your heart take flight. You CAN do it all, and you can do it just the way you are today.

Keep dancin, keep growin!

- Jeze

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