Advice to my 22 Year Old Self: Just get out there bro!
22 years ago I was 22. It was my third year of training at Unitec and I had just secured back to back contracts with Black Grace and Footnote Dance Company, to tie me up for two whole years. Lying on the dance floor on my first day I thought shit, these guys are serious and this is for real.
It was 1998 and I was bloody stoked to get an opportunity straight out of school to travel abroad and dance with my mentors: people I’d looked up to for years. I told myself right then that I’d have to learn the ropes fast because three years at dance school wasn’t going to be enough: I knew that much. I sensed it was going to be an adventure but also that life was going to change from here on in. I was reading a lot of Hermann Hesse and Joseph Campbell at the time including Siddartha and Hero with a thousand faces. These two books I enjoyed particularly filling my head with ideas of journey, self discovery and getting out there into the unknown. And I remember my somatics dance teacher Raewyn Thorborn saying to me “You’ve got a big heart ...get out there.”
But inside there was a niggling worry pressing at me. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Just like the awesome BMX track I built for my mates out the back of our house growing up I knew it was going to take weeks or more like years of hard graft to get more accomplished in this newly discovered passion for dance theatre. I could understand music and theatre to a certain extent but the dance world was really a complete unknown to me. I still really wanted to tell stories but had no real comprehension of how to do it. It was quite freaky having the opportunities to work with these amazing people but I didn’t really know if it was going to work out.
Sweating this small stuff only chews you up inside and upsets your neutrality and flow.
I told myself I’d have to really watch and learn, help when asked, to be there no matter what and to really try and understand the artform of dance making. I also told myself that I had to be kind and big hearted towards others because man, life is just too short – Dad had just died suddenly overseas and Nana was soon to follow. He spent half his life studying and working his way up to becoming a successful civil engineer then passing away on one of his worksites in a small province in China halfway across the world. I was like if the same is going to happen to me I better be loving every minute of whatever I’m doing.
To that 22 year old guy I’d probably say practice acceptance more and don’t sweat the real small stuff. You know it happening when you’re waking up at 3 in the morning with that upset feeling in your stomach, worrying over who said this or that about a ridiculous costume detail discussion that’s been going for 3 weeks, or whether we need to fix in coffee meetings at 9 or 10 am. Sweating this small stuff only chews you up inside and upsets your neutrality and flow.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Just like the awesome BMX track I built for my mates out the back of our house growing up.
You could eat more greens Moss and your reo training is super important for you and for others in your bigger whanau. Te Reo Maori never came as given when I was growing up and so like many others in Aotearoa I had to learn as an adult and its relevance now to my daughters, mum, cousins and work colleagues is well unmeasurable. You’ll meet the woman of your dreams, have two beautiful daughters and basically your two greatest art works will have been made so don’t worry because none of your new art projects or dance theatre works will ever compare.
Art making and creativity all depends on our human relationships with others especially in dance and really value every moment with others. Our humanity, our weaknesses, our strengths are what make us real and so keep connecting and don’t be in a hurry to buy that new iphone. That dopamine rush is only short lived. Just get out there bro.
Moss Patterson's large scale spectacular work ONE: The Earth Rises is on at Vodafone Events Centre on October 3, 7.30 pm, as part of the Tempo Dance Festival. Meanwhile Moss's work Pango at Q Theatre, with Atamira Dance Co., is set to tour the North Island with shows on October 20 (Napier); October 24 (Gisborne); October 26 (Tauranga); October 30 (Hamilton); November 1 (New Plymouth); November 7 (Whangarei); and November 16 & 17 (Auckland). Full details and tickets available here.