Artist Pick of the Week – Mattie Love @mattildaalove

Hey y’all!

This week begins a new tradition – “Artist Pick of the Week” and I’m absolutely stoked about it!

“Artist Pick of the Week” will include an interview between myself and another artist that stands at a similar position to myself – right on the cusp of transitioning from “Art Student” to “Professional Artist.” With each of these interviews, I will also include an interview involving artists that stand in a different position – artists who have already made this transition and can call themselves “Professional” – someone who lives on their own and is able to sustain their artistic lifestyle, in a major city, without feeling like they’re about to totally sink under that fine-line of poverty. Yikes!

I anticipate this weekly post not only to assist in answering some of OUR questions, but to also assist in bringing us together on the whole next level! I believe that the only way to make this blog worth something for ANY OF US is to provide information AND to reach out in attempt to create as many tentacles as possible – aka: SPREAD THE WORD! 

So let’s get to the good stuff –

MATTIE LOVE @mattildaalove

Originally from Utah but currently residing on the UES of Manhattan. She started dancing at the age of 3 recreationally following in her 2 older sisters footsteps, however she knew at age 10 that it was what she wanted to do for forever. She trained at Dance Impressions in Bountiful and was concurrently enrolled in the ballet program at the University of Utah. Growing up she had the opportunity to work with choreographers like Jason Parsons, Travis Wall, Andy Pellick, Joey Dowling and many others. In her career at Marymount Manhattan she has had the privilege of working with Aszure Barton, Norbert de la Cruz, Adam Baruch, Emery Lecrone, Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch and many others. She knew at age 10 that she wanted to live in NYC but never imagined she’d be where she is today. She has always been different. When she was younger she was the tallest most developed out of all of her friends, she wasn’t flexible, and wasn’t naturally gifted aesthetically, but she had a heart and drive that others didn’t possess. It wasn’t until she started working with Jason Parsons that she knew there was a place for her in the dance world, and that she didn’t have to be anything other than herself to exist on stage – THIS is why she continued to dance and still continues to dance. It is the one place where she feels the most Mattie.

The following include her beautifully raw and honest ideas on life, art and thriving in New York City as a young, talented and sassy young woman! GO MATTIE! —

 

MM- Where/when you’re graduating from?

ML- Graduating in May from Marymount Manhattan with a bfa in Dance with a concentration in ballet

How was your transition from home to New York City?

My transition from a small farm in Utah to the city of pretty was no joke. It was hard. At first I felt liberated, free, and wild but then I felt alone, small, and scared. No one can prepare you for what the city makes-breaks-or takes from you and I wasn’t ready to look at myself in the mirror and tackle on adulthood. I didn’t want to return back to Marymount after freshman year. I was dealing with a negative body image binge eating and not knowing who or what I wanted myself to be. It wasn’t until spring semester of sophomore year that I felt like I was really in the right space physically and mentally. I was so concerned with the product and forgot entirely to enjoy my process in growing and in life. I was so type A- so far from who I really am but I got so stuck in being everything i thought I was supposed to be that I pushed everything that made me-me so far away I couldn’t even pin point who or what I was. I am so grateful for this year- it is the reason why I am who I am today.

Do you think that moving to NYC as a college-freshmen will make it easier or harder to live in NYC as a college graduate?

Moving to NYC as a college freshman may or may not make it easier to live in NYC as a college graduate. I have made great connections in the last 4 years which could possibly help me but I think that I have also been in the bubble of Marymount Manhattan. It can be easy to get caught up in the community you live in and forget that there is a whole world out there waiting for you.

What are your plans after graduation, if any have even been solidified?

The only plans after graduation that I have so far are to attend spring board in June and a couple choreographic endeavors at some studios around the United States. People don’t lie when they say auditions are hard. It’s been a beautiful audition season filled with some inspiring next times and no’s. For me and a profession job It’s not a matter of if… It’s a matter of when. I know I’m a dancer and going to fulfill my own dance career somewhere someplace and somehow I just have to be patient and keep showing up.

How did you come about those plans? What were the steps you took that consciously or coincidentally lead you to this next step/chapter? 

I guess these are my only options for right now! Nothing else has lined up so I’m taking what I have and I’m going to make the best of it. I’m a firm believer that God has a plan for me and I trust that through hard work and perseverance the next chapter will be exactly what it’s supposed to be and its most likely not going to be what I expect. I have learned through my 4 years in the city and in college that having expectations is much harder than having an open and willing heart and mind to embrace whatever comes my way.

Who assisted in your decision to take that next step?

Myself. However my family and friends have always been my biggest support system.

What are the steps you plan on taking AFTER graduation in efforts to achieve a specific goal in the near future? 

I don’t have any “goals” of getting a set job or being in this show or that show. I know I’m going to work-when and where are still up in the air (rhyme unintended lol) my goal is to never give up. To wake up- continue to train- take care of my body- share my love for life and dance- and make myself feel uncomfortable and out of my box. I feel the most me when I push myself to go to a show alone or speak at open mic night or put on my pointe shoes in the hardest NYC ballet class. Those are tiny goals that will eventually lead me to my dream of being the dancer I want to be.

If you have a “dream job,” expand on that. Why is it your dream-job, and what steps do you plan on taking in efforts to reach that dream-job.

My dream job would be something that keeps me performing always. Something that pushes my artistry and physicality. I love ballet preljacaj- they give me life I love everything about Marie Chouinard there are so many amazing companies that I would love to be a part of but I can also see myself on Broadway and in a music video or on tour with a pop star. My goal is to stay as healthy and happy for as long as possible because in order to dance and perform my body must be willing and able. Especially for someone like me who has dealt with an eating disorder my body must first be in a great place mentally and physically or else it will consume me and I no longer am the Mattie that I love.

How do you budget your time and money in such an expensive and distracting city?

I budget my time and money pretty well according to the book of Mattie. I love eating out and I love shopping however I am low maintenance in the grand scheme of things-as long as I can afford my chai and coffee each day then to me I am on a good track. It’s easy to find affordable activities in the city and I can always count on my friends to split an appetizer and meal when we go out There are many ways to affordably enjoy all that the city has to offer. Money shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be a reason to stop you from living a fabulous life in New York City.

How do you plan on making money after graduation? (Both artistically and non-artistically, if any.)

I love teaching and often teach workshops as well as do choreography for studios around the country. To me this is my favorite and most rewarding way of making money because i get to challenge myself artistically, I get to have a voice of my own, and I get to influence the younger generation. I’ve always pushed myself to be an example to young dancers and I’ve always wanted to live up to being the best idol I can be. I want to be an example of what it means to be “different” in the dance world. And how owning self and loving self can lead dancers to an entire different place than they ever imagined. I assume ill continue to tour with dance alliance which is both amazing and fun – I get to travel and make connections for teaching and dance with my best friends.

What do you value in life?

My days are filled with happiness that overall bring love into my life. No pun intended but love is what makes my world go around. Not romantic love (although not opposed lol) love from my family and friends, love from the sky, the wind, art. I find joy all over and the city is one of the best friends to me because it provides all of these. I value time with my family because at one point in my life i pushed them away rather than letting them support me in my endeavors. My days aren’t the same if I don’t have a chai in the morning, my hand on the barre, or I miss happy hour with friends. I used to be so concerned with being perfect and achieving the best dancing body and ability that I feared LIVING. I wasn’t social I didn’t go out i sat and worried that I wasn’t doing enough. Once I realized that LIVING actually helped me dance better and made me happier and I watched myself bloom no longer worrying about what I ate or didn’t eat if I should stretch longer. I value being human. I used to think I was just a dancer and I missed out on a lot of great opportunities to be with amazing people or be in amazing places because I didn’t want it to affect the way I danced the next day. I now teach that we must first value being the human Mattie (self) before we value the dancer Mattie. With out one I am not the other. I love food. I love sex. I love going out. The night scene to me is so fun- yes moderation I’m not promoting doing drugs and getting shit wasted every day but a little party never killed nobody. Myself right now in this minute is content with taking a ballet class, having a chai, hanging out with friends, going to the gym, then going out whether it be to a tapas place downtown or the movies at Lincoln theatre, or to marquee. I love taking in all that the city has to offer because I’m realizing I won’t have this life for forever. By focusing on the human Mattie my dancing has never felt better and I no longer seek approval from mentors I seek approval from myself and I love who I am becoming in this life. I also love expressing myself through my clothing. I think what you wear on your body is just as important as what you wear from ear to ear.

Give a piece of advice to any aspiring artist/dancer.

Let the shit go. Once you let insecurities, expectations of self and others go you’ll fly. Always say yes and trust in the process. Love and embrace that you’re the only person who dances like you. Without your insecurities strengths body life you would not be the dancer that everybody loves – vise versa. I’d also say be KIND TO EVERYONE!! Lift your peers/friends/foes up let their success be your success. Their success does not take away from yours! I wish there were kinder people in the dance world.

 

Well HOT DAMN! There she is WORLD! Take her in, embrace her words and understand (yet again) that we are ALL in the same boat, persevering our ways through this crazy, tough, emotional career choice TOGETHER! I know I’m not the only one who read this and found goosebumps all over my arms and legs.

Cheers! 

 

Let’s Start Saving That Moolah.

We meet again! First of all – let me say, I’m absolutely stoked that you decided to continue following montifresh and read my next post. Let’s get goin!

My previous post touched on four ways how to make “The Big Move” run as smoothly and accessibly as possible. But let’s be real – the best and least stressful way to make this next chapter start off smooth, is having a few saved pennies in the bottom of our piggy banks.

SO – How TF do we start saving money NOW?

I’ve done some yummy research and have found some fantastic ideas that we NEED to start applying to our lives, like.. yesterday!

(I stumbled upon another wordpress blog (theyounghopeful) that writes a “a girls’s guide to thriving in college.” Hot damn! I wish I would have stumbled upon their posts three years ago. The specific post that I will be quoting is “The College Student’s Guide to Saving Money,” and while some of the tips would have been helpful to know as a freshmen, a couple of them can still be useful for graduating seniors.)

I have highlighted two of the tips that I found to be most helpful –

1.Commit to a savings schedule.

  • Save 10 dollars every paycheck.
  • Keep every $5 bill you come across and stash it in your piggy bank. Every month, you can record how much you saved and then try to match that or do better next month (but do not buy stuff just to get a $5 bill as change, cheaters!)
  • Save an extra dollar every week. This one requires a lot more self-discipline. Essentially what you are doing is setting a certain time period—say, 5 months. For every week, you will add an additional dollar to your piggy bank. So the first week, you will donate 1 dollar, the 2nd, 2 dollars, 30th 30 dollars, and so on until you reach your 5 months, and then you start over. If you REALLY want to save money, keep this up for an entire year!

2. Institute a “no buy week” once a month.

This is obviously going to be easier for some than others, BUT try choosing 7 days out of the month when you keep that debit card and extra cash hidden away in your top drawer. No groceries, no eating out, no coffee shops, no alcohol or partying, even as far as no uber rides. You’ll be surprised with how often you’re throwing $3 here and $9 there on meaningless items that you don’t actually need to be spending $ on.

3. Make a budget!

I find this tip to be most important. Jennifer Edwards, a professor at Point Park whom teaches an entrepreneurship for the arts course, provided our class with a Skype meeting with professional dancer, Amy Smith. Smith is a founder and co-director of Headlong Dance Theater, a Philadelphia-based contemporary dance company. She provided us with a budget sheet that allows one to calculate how much their time is worth.

VALUING YOUR TIME

Determine the cost of your life for a year. What do you need to earn to live without financial panic?

Monthly rent _________ x 12 ________

Internet __________ x 12 _________

Cell phone _________ x 12 ________

Liquor, going out, etc. ________ x 12 __________

Artistic research ________ x 12 __________

Student loan debt _______ x 12 ________

Utilities __________ x 12 _________

Car/transport __________ x 12 _________

Groceries __________ x 12 ___________

Classes/workshops _______ x 12 _________

Clothes, books, etc. ________ x 12 __________

Savings __________ x 12 ____________

Vacation _________ per year

Use this number to calculate week, day and hourly rates. Divide your annual number by 1500: this is your hourly rate. Multiply that by 8 to get your day rate. Multiply that day rate by five to get your week rate. Use these numbers to negotiate for pay and budget your projects. Your time has value!

 

MY WEEKLY RATE IS $__________ per week.

MY DAILY RATE IS $_____________per day.

MY HOURLY RATE IS $ __________ per hour.

Fill this out for yourself and calculate how much YOUR time is worth. NEVER let someone devalue you as an individual, OR devalue the art form in which you are studying/working by paying you less than you deserve.

As dancers we tend to believe that “working for free” is a good way to network ourselves into the professional community, and while sometimes this is the case, most of the time it is not! By working for free, you devalue the art form and yourself as an individual in the art form’s community. A musician would never allow someone to record his music without some sort of payment, a lighting designer would never light a show without receiving the money he/she deserves, and a plumber will NEVER fix your toilet for free. (I mean- am I right, or what?!) What makes dance any different? Be strong and stand up for the greater good of our art form! YOU deserve payment for your work! DANCE DESERVES PAYMENT! 

The last two money saving tips come from an article written in US News. (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2015/05/15/10-essential-money-saving-tips-for-college-graduates) This blog gives personal finance advice accumulated from voices behind numerous money blogs.

4. Be a social deal seeker.

We all want to be able to get away from “work” or be able to step outside of our small 2 bedroom apartments, but what is the best way to make those fun, extra activities affordable? “Happy hours, lunches out and expensive exercise classes are all fun and tempting when you start receiving your first paychecks, but these daily or weekly luxuries will eat away at your budget fast…One of the best things about being fresh out of college is that most of your friends are likely in the same financial boat as you– cash-strapped and paying down debt, but free from the time and financial responsibilities of family. Keep your college crowd together and grow your new city circle of friends by planning fun, low-cost activities such as picnics, pickup games and free outdoor festivals. Also look out for activities on daily deal sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and Gilt.”

5. Set a long-term goal.

“Budgeting does not always mean just saving; you can also budget in fun. Whether it’s a new couch, tropical vacation or dream home to own, setting a long-term goal will motivate you to stick to your budget and reward your financial responsibility.”

 

Woah – while that’s full of details and pretty damn dry, it is SUPER necessary to read and study before your parents finally decide to do the ole’ “cut-off”

My next post will be FUN and uplifting, I swear by it! 

Cheers! 

 

 

 

NYC – The most expensive city in THE WORLD to live in.

Let’s really start to dig in with possibly the most nerve-wracking topic there is in terms of making that big life transition. (Especially for those, like myself, who didn’t attend school in “The City” and/or have the gracious, financially-set parents who can make-do with keeping those training wheels locked in, just a tiiiiny bit longer after graduation.)

HOW TF DO WE AFFORD IT?

If you read my first post, your little eyeballs may have stopped dead in their tracks as soon as you read “NYC (the most expensive city in THE WORLD to live)” – yeah, I know, absolutely petrifying! And, is it even true? Well according to CURBED: New York, yes.. it is. (See Bottom Quote)

But you know what, y’all. THAT’S OK! And here are 4 simple reasons how/why.

  1. Location – Seems pretty self-explanatory. Right? Even though we’d all love that LES loft off of Ludlow and Broome overlooking the hippest bar scene in the city, that’s just not plausible. (Unless of course, you were blessed with the parents who believe in “training wheels after graduation” – if thats the case, by all means, beg Daddy for that LES loft. I’ll be in Washington Heights envying you.) Anyways – Location is EVERYTHING in terms of cost. The most reasonable places are going to be either very North or very South of Manhattan. (Washington Heights or Brooklyn.) For a hot second, I was SET on Brooklyn – (Park Slope, Bay Ridge, Williamsburg or Bushwick.) But recently a New York-living, professional dancer, Ian Spring, enlightened me on some of the perks of Washington Heights. “You can get a lot more space for a lot less money in the heights. River access is one of my favorite parts about the neighborhood. There are also a good number of parks. Commuting is generally easier and less crowded I have found. Also, the Latino men are super sexy… Maybe don’t include that part though.” Oh, but of course I had to include that key factor. 😉
  2. Cram Those Roomies – The more the better. (In terms of COST, of course.) Myself and three other girls are currently working on finding a decently sized two-bedroom that the four of us can squeeze into. That automatically makes each room 1/2 the price! #WINNING ! Although, with trying to rent a place this may get tricky – finding a landlord that accepts this genius, money-saving idea may not be the simplest task in the world. OH, and here we meet that “cool part” for the first time – the thing that involves me giving ideas/advice before actually testing the waters. I’ll keep y’all posted with how this works out in the future weeks of apartment searching.
  3. Find a Day Job BEFORE you make the big move– Easier said than done, eh? Well, believe it or not, finding a day-job in NYC is extremely possible and can be done relatively quick. The first three things I thought about were interests, skills, and connections. What do I enjoy? What am I good at? And who do I know? Well, my interests are pretty damn obvious, at this point, no? – Art, exercise/health, consumption of beverages (specifically wine & coffee hehe) writing, and number freaking 1 on the list – FOOD!  My skills? Well- dancing, socializing, and some minor experience in working at a cafe as a barista/smoothie maker. (Sidenote- If anyone reading this is in the Pittsburgh area, go check out Amazing Cafe in the South Side. You won’t regret it!) Lastly, connections? I have a plethora of connections in terms of artists, but who do I know that can recommend me to a consistently-paying day job that will assist in accommodating my rent, a couple of meals each week, and my artistic research/practice. DING DING DING! Answering that last question is actually pretty simple – Courtney Christine (@courtjc) ! I’ll touch on this crazy, beautiful specimen in future posts. As for now – Answer these questions for yourself. I bet your realizations will come faster and easier than you’re anticipating. Good Luck!
  4. STAY POSITIVE– Last but sure-as-hell not least.. posi-freakin-tivity. I truly believe this is a key factor in terms of making this life transition. Without a constant positive mind, this next step in that huge ass city, has serious potential to eat us alive. There WILL be tears, there WILL be struggles, but it will ultimately ALL be worth it. When we are down, let ourselves be down and feel those not-so-fun emotions, but we CANNOT allow ourselves to bask in those places. Staying there for too long gives us the ability to reach destinations we do not need to waste our time at. Make sure you keep yourself surrounded by happy, healthy, and generally uplifting humans. THEY are the keys to staying on the right track. You are who you hangout with.

With all that being said – Long story LONG – Cheers! 

Here’s that quote from CURBED: New York City. Yikes, but remember we got this shit!

“…a new report by major international bank UBS says that New York City is now the most expensive city in the world to live in. Oh, wonderful. It isn’t just the city’s soaring property prices that have steered it towards its new qualifier; it’s also the city’s cost of goods and services and low after-tax wages that contribute to New York’s soul-shattering expense, the Wall Street Journal reports (h/t TRD). While global cities Zurich and Geneva outpace New York in their cost of goods and services, the city’s burdensome rents tipped the scale in New York’s favor for the title of World’s Most Expensive City.”

 

Let’s Begin.

So – here it is. My very first post as montifresh, the #dancelifestyleblogger. Let me first start out by expressing my serious excitement for this project. I have felt an immense amount of inspiration recently. I mean like an overwhelming, annoying amount of inspiration. I’d be lying if I told y’all that my friends and I haven’t shared a couple of recent laughs at my obnoxious, passionate, and (without a doubt) sassy behavior.

I could start by dragging on and on about how this whole “blogger” thing came about, but I mean, isn’t it obvious? I’m nearly (but not quite) a college graduate, planning to move to NYC (the most expensive city in THE WORLD to live) in 2 months with no set job or “plan” (other than the three spunky girls I call my “future roomies”) and desire nothing more than love, art, adventure, and growth. Simple, eh? HA! Not quite. But definitely… interesting.

Long story LONG (you’ll learn that about me very quickly): I’ve noticed the majority of young adults in similar positions to myself have common questions, fears, aspirations, and general “WTF am I going to do” attitudes – So why don’t we do this together? Let’s maneuver through this godawful yet fascinating transition from a ‘student in the arts’ to a working, thriving, sustainable and PROFESSIONAL artist.

CHEERS.