Often when I dance I will have images come to me that demand manifestation, or birth, with me as a conduit for their arrival. One of the ultimate ironies of this was that at school I was branded F for Fail as an artist and in spite of the fact that I used to go into art shops just to gaze at the paints I didn't dare to use, the culture around me had decided that I was no artist, because I couldn't draw. I was also told that my ambitions to be a performer were unrealistic and that people like me don't go into work like that, that I couldn't sing, that dancing in front of others was showing off and that I was too much of a day dreamer. Somehow I kept hold of my inner flame and whenever anyone asked me what I was going to do when I grew up I always told them I was going to be an actress.
There was one particular theatre company I was taken to see often as a child and by some strange twist of fate (or perhaps law of attraction) I ended up meeting some of them in a completely different context in my early twenties just as I was finishing a degree in philosophy...I decided to take voice lessons with one of them and within six months she had cast me in a lead role in one of her productions. Within two years I had an equity card, was professional, touring abroad and in a bar in Canada with Kenneth Brannagh...the point being how important it is not to allow other people to define your dreams or your creativity for you. I also spent a lot of time being unemployed in a very up and down lifestyle which was in many ways pretty challenging but mirrored my own lack of inner stability at the time.
During this period my then boyfriends sister-in-law decided I needed a "job". Unusually for me as you may gather I obeyed and found myself employed as a drama worker with various groups of people...with social, emotional, mental and physical challenges...Another twist emerged, as I was told that half my work would be teaching art, to which I quickly replied, "Erm, I DON"T THINK SO!!!" To which I was told not to be silly. So, wanting to keep my newly acquired employment I took myself off to the library and the art shop and began teaching myself things I thought were accessible...like jewellry and mask making and when people told me they COULDN"T POSSIBLY, I just used to smile and say I couldn't until yesterday either, let's just give it a go...It's funny that writing this I realise that my own disempowerment by the culture around me, which included ancestral wounding of the other women artists in my mother's family...has enabled me to share the ground of empowerment with others...because I'm really not shitting you when I tell you I once believed I was no artist. Now I know that I'm no Picasso but I don't think that's really the point. My experience tells me, like the great Gabrielle Roth told us, that art is a portal to growth and that what might begin as a way just to survive our pain, as my acting certainly was in my 20's, can, if we dare to dream, become our bliss and our power. I am passionate in my belief that WE ARE ALL ARTISTS...dancers, poets, singers, musicians, crafts people, weavers and dreamers....the problem being that in making art into commodity our culture has robbed so many of us of our birthright - the sheer joy of creating...Creation for All Our Relations! ♥♥ Ali :-)
Ali Young is both a published poet and academic, with book chapters in collections on
embodiment published by
Routledge, as well as a
variety of academic papers.