In this week's episode, I again welcome Ashley Taylor! Ashley was our very first podcast guest and we're delighted she came back to share about her manifesto to artists about the importance of intentionality in every choice when creating and sharing their work. She offers blunt yet insightful advice about how artists can be meaningful in their works' presentation. (Fun fact: the cover image of this episode is of Ashley & Lindsey when they were promoting the 2019 premiere of "Cracked! A Reimagined Kansas City Nutcracker.")

 

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Episode 71 - Ashley Taylor

[00:00:00] Lindsey Dinneen: Hello, and welcome to Artfully Told, where we share true stories about meaningful encounters with art.

[00:00:06] Krista: I think artists help people have different perspectives on every aspect of life.

[00:00:12] Roman: All I can do is put my part in to the world.

[00:00:15] Elizabeth: It doesn't have to be perfect the first time. It doesn't have to be perfect ever really. I mean, as long as you, and you're enjoying doing it and you're trying your best, that can be good enough.

[00:00:23] Elna: Art is something that you can experience with your senses and that you just experiences as so beautiful.

[00:00:31] Lindsey Dinneen: Hi friends, whether you are just getting started or you're a seasoned professional looking to up your game, I have an exciting opportunity for you. Did you know that I am actually the creator of 10 different courses online that range from ballet, jazz, tap. They also include a mindset detox course and two Stretch and Tone courses. So if you're looking to start a new hobby or get a little bit fitter, or you're looking to do a deep dive into your mindset, really perform a true detox, I have the course for you, and I would love to help you out with that. So if you go to elevateart.thinkific.com, you will see all of the different courses I've created.

[00:01:26] You don't have to step in a classroom to take your first dance class. I teach a signature 20 Moves in 20 Days course that allows you to learn 20 steps in just 20 days. It's a lot of fun. We have a great time together. And I think you're going to absolutely love the different courses. And Artfully Told listeners get a little something from me. So if you go, you'll sign up and use the promo code "artfullytold," all one word, and when you do so you'll get 15% off the purchase of any and all your favorite courses. All right, listeners, enjoy that. Again, it's elevateart.thinkific.com. See you there.

[00:02:11] Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Artfully Told. I'm your host Lindsey and I am extremely delighted to have as my guest today a returnee. She actually had the very, very first episode that I ever released with a guest was with Ashley Taylor. So thank you, Ashley, for being back. I'm just beyond excited. Ashley is a dancer. She is a choreographer, teacher. She is also a writer. In fact, maybe sneak peak. Can I say that you're working on a novel?

[00:02:47] Ashley Taylor: Of course you can!

[00:02:49] Lindsey Dinneen: Awesome. Yeah. And then also, goodness gracious. I think your artistic list goes on and on. You can paint, draw, what can't you do? Maybe we should start there.

[00:03:02] Ashley Taylor: Well, I'm going to answer that question later.

[00:03:04] Lindsey Dinneen: Okay. Fair. That's true. Anyway, artist extraordinaire, very creative and very good at what she does. So, Ashley, thank you for being back.

[00:03:17] Ashley Taylor: Thank you for having me. I'm super excited to chat with you again about artsy things.

[00:03:22] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Well, first I'm really curious to know sort of what what you've been up to lately, especially considering, you know, when we did our recording last year, of course it was COVID central and it kind of still is, but things have changed and opened back up. So I'm curious how you've been able to navigate sort of getting back into more artsy things?

[00:03:50] Ashley Taylor: Yeah. So I would not say I'm fully back in, in the way that I would like to be, but that's fine. I've had the time to explore a lot of writing and editing and found a community of creative writing people, which is great. So we meet virtually once a week and read each other what we're working on and give feedback, which has been wonderful, highly recommend creative community as a side note. So yeah, I, as you said, I have been working on a novel. I, I am editing it. I think this is my third draft right now. I've got some feedback recently from some readers, so I'm editing it. And the goal is to get it sent to some agents and see what the possibilities are there in the next couple of months.

[00:04:44] So that'll be, that'll be an adventure for sure. In addition to that, I am starting to gather ideas for another writing project, which would be my own and other people's stories about being in the professional dance world and the good, the bad and the ugly of that. But focusing on the good hopefully. And so, yeah, writing, lots of writing. As far as dance goes, that's my other main thing. And I am starting to do some auditions and have a performance with you coming up, which I'm super excited about. And yeah, I that's pretty much it for now. I will see if any other opportunities arise, but I am trying to go with the flow.

[00:05:33] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Well, and by going with the flow, obviously you are also very involved in lots of things. So that seems like quite a bit to keep you busy, not to mention, you know, you're a wife and mother and, you know, details. Well, congratulations on finishing or working on draft three of the novel. I mean, first of all, that's a huge undertaking to finish, let alone to get to this next point. So congratulations on that. And obviously I'm wishing you the best in your publishing journey and I'm sure our listeners are as well. And once that happens, you'll have to be on again and talk all about your book.

[00:06:15] Ashley Taylor: I would be glad to do that.

[00:06:17] Lindsey Dinneen: All right. And then so you mentioned getting back into various forms of art. And then I'm also curious because when we talked last time, you were essentially a brand new mom. And now you-- I mean, I guess you'd maybe consider yourself still kind of a brand new mom, I don't know-- but...

[00:06:44] Ashley Taylor: It changes every day pretty much, a little bit.

[00:06:49] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. And I'm curious how that has impacted your either expression of art or I mean, obviously ability to do art changes a little bit I'm sure. Or a lot, but I'm just curious if it, if you feel that also being a mom or having a little one has, has impacted just the way that you express yourself through art.

[00:07:13] Ashley Taylor: Hmm. That's a great question. I think, I think I have two answers to that. So the first thing is now that I'm a mom, I obviously have additional demands on my time and energy. So that's, it can be a difficult thing, but it's also a good thing in the sense that I am a lot pickier now about what artistic endeavors I spend time on. So early on in any artistic person's career or foray into artistic things, just kind of taking whatever opportunities come your way, because you want to get out there and get recognized and build experience. And I've done that. And I've spent a lot of time doing that in the past. And I-- it's not that I have every experience I'd ever want under my belt and you know, I'm an expert now-- certainly not, but I think I am a little less willing to just kind of do whatever at this point. I'm interested in spending time on projects that I find really meaningful, which means I weed things out very quickly if I see audition listings or whatever it may be, and I think that's good.

[00:08:25] I think, I think it's good to have that perspective now. Like I'm not, I'm not desperate enough to just do whatever. So that's good. And then as far as how it affects the expression of art, I do think it's not like I'm thinking about my son all the time while I'm making art, but I, I do think you, there's less pressure to throw your entire identity onto your art, because you know that you have other more important things waiting for you at home. Just gives you a different perspective and you realize you are more than, you're more than being a mother. You're also more than being an artist. You are all of those things at once. And you get to use the wholeness of that. You bring the wholeness of that into whatever you're doing at the moment, if that makes sense.

[00:09:15] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, it absolutely does make sense. And I think that's really an amazing perspective to have, because it is so easy to get caught up in, you know, I'm, I'm a dancer. I've always been a dancer. I, you know, struggled with that myself quite a bit last year with COVID and not dancing for a year. I mean, not performing for a year and feeling like I've always identified myself, you know. When people meet me and I tell them that I'm a dancer. They're like, "Oh yeah, that makes sense." You know, it's just part of my DNA. And, and so there were many times last year I sort of had these like identity crisis moments of, "Well, who am I without this?" And, you know, and what, what do I need for my soul to, to feel like I can still identify as a dancer? Yeah. So I definitely relate to that, but I love the perspective that you have of sort of there's, there's more to you. Like you have, you have a myriad of sides to you and they're, they're important and they're all valuable, I guess. So, yeah, like that.

[00:10:30] Ashley Taylor: Yeah. And I think we, we do ourselves a disservice by identifying as only one thing, honestly. Because we're all so much more than that.

[00:10:39] Lindsey Dinneen: Absolutely. So earlier you had alluded to the fact that you're writing more about dance and people's experiences and things like that. And I know recently you wrote a really intriguing blog post that I kind of wanted to dive into a little bit. It was a manifesto of sorts, if that's fair, about some trends that you've been noticing in, I suppose, the dance world in particular, but in general in the arts world. And I'm curious if you don't mind sharing what you wrote about and sort of your thought process behind all that?

[00:11:19] Ashley Taylor: Yeah. So I think the idea for this stemmed from, you know, I haven't performed in a while either, and, but I have seen over the past year or two, I've seen a few companies' virtual performances. And even that prompted me to think back to performances I've been involved in in the past. And I mean, I'll just be blunt. I'm pretty blunt in the blog post. There are times when I'm watching dance and I'm a dancer and I am actually bored. And I was trying to figure out why is that? Because it's not that it's not at all that the dancers aren't talented, they're very talented. And I came to realize it's because the choreography is rather mediocre. And I, you know, I have to couch this by saying everybody sees something different in a piece of art. And some people will find a piece of art meaningful that another person will not, right?. We all know it's, it's very subjective.

[00:12:24] However, what I think, what I think people get caught up in sometimes is, you know, somebody who is not familiar with dance, might watch a dance and think, "Wow, they're so talented." Or, "Wow, that looks so hard," or, "Wow, that was beautiful." And those are all good reactions, right? But as a dancer, myself, I might have similar reactions, but I also might ask, "Okay, well, what are you trying to say through this dance?" I'm like, "What's the point of this? Why are we doing this?" And what I kind of argue for in the, in the post is like, I, I'm not always sure that artists are actually asking that question, 'cause especially dancers, we love dancing. We love doing our art. We love it. So we do it because that's what we do and we've trained, we've spent years studying it and we think, well, we have to dance. That's what we worked all this time for. And so then we end up putting out these dances that might be fun to do as performers, they might be meaningful personally as performers, and the audience might be wowed by our talent.

[00:13:35] But did they actually get something meaningful out of it? Like, did you communicate through that dance? And I don't know. I guess I've been, I've been thinking lately that we really need to do a better job of being clear about what we're trying to say and what our intent is. So like, if the intent is, I just want to entertain people. So it's like, I don't know if the Radio City Rockettes say, or a fun movie. That's like a goofy chick flick. Okay. Entertainment. Great. No problem with that. But I think what we do is forget that there is a difference in some regard between entertainment, and art or between just like pure creative expression and art. So entertainment is, you know, you walk away and you're like, "Wow, I feel relaxed. I got out of my head for a minute." So it was great. They were talented. That was fun. Creative expression is like, any, anything that you do that's, that's creative, artistic, which is always great.

[00:14:32] And it's like, I baked some cookies. I painted a sunset. I, I made a dance, right? That's all great, but I, I feel that a primary-- what's the word-- a primary purpose of art is to communicate something, to express something. And it has to be something from which the viewer can glean meaning, and it doesn't have to be the exact meaning that the artist intended, but there should be something like you should react to a piece of art in my opinion. So I questioned the approach of artists who don't, who are not clear about what they're trying to communicate. And therefore are not even editing it appropriately in order to communicate that more. So an example that I use in the, in the post is just because you know how to write words down and you find some interesting words and then you put them on a page that does not mean that you've actually written a story, right?

[00:15:37] There's a lot that goes into writing a story with characters and plot and you know, development and all of this, right? So you can't just put words on a page and say, "I made art now. You know, enjoy it, pay for it." It's like, well, why, why would anybody do that? They could have written the page, the words on the page. So in, in dance, similarly, I feel like we pick some music and we're like, well, we have to dance because we have a show coming up and we gotta make money. So we'll make a dance about something random and put it up, put it on stage. And like here's talented dancers and here's like a couple of interesting moves. And we put it on stage and we call it art and then people don't come and we lament the fact that people just don't get it. It's like, well, was there anything there for them to get? Like, that's really my question. It's like, I don't think with the amount of content there is these days, like I just don't think it's realistic to assume that people will want to come watch you just because you're talented. Like there, the world is full of, the world is full of art and entertainment and all these things. So what makes yours different? Like, why are people gonna want to come and then come back? Are you giving them something transformative or something meaningful? Beyond just a spectacle. Does that make sense?

[00:16:57] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. No, I resonate with everything that you're saying so much. Good gravy. Yeah. I, yes, that definitely makes sense. And I think, you know, gosh, a lot of thoughts were forming in my head as you were talking about it, but working kind of backwards. One thing that I just thought about too, is that with COVID one of the lovely things to come out of it, I suppose, is the fact that the world opened up even more. And so art that may have only been accessible to a certain geographic region is now being live-streamed across the world, you know, or, or it's been recorded and made into a film that's then, you know, again, available literally anywhere. So I think you touched on a really good point. That's even more relevant today. And that is that there's a lot, there's a lot of art. So what makes you different?

[00:17:57] Ashley Taylor: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I think artists sometimes sort of have this sense of entitlement, of like, well, I have years of training and I spent money and time and energy to do this. So you should come watch me because of that. And it's like, that's not fair. I mean, I don't know. I think that's unrealistic and I would love, I would love it if people came just to watch us because we're talented, but it's unrealistic. And so we need to give them something more than that. Okay.

[00:18:28] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Yeah. No, absolutely. And I think sort of to that point, I mean, you would hold any other profession to that too, right? So just because a doctor has trained for years and years, super highly educated, if he constantly misdiagnosis and, you know, or treats people terribly, you're not coming back. There's plenty of doctors in the world, or, you know, if a plumber doesn't, you know, again, highly educated probably, you know, years of experience, but if they can't fix the problem, you don't go back.

[00:19:03] Ashley Taylor: Yeah.

[00:19:04] Lindsey Dinneen: So I think, you know, there's a lot of, I agree that, that there is some entitlement of sort of like, well, I have devoted my life to this, so then you should devote your life to me, you know, or whatever.

[00:19:18] Ashley Taylor: Yeah.

[00:19:19] Lindsey Dinneen: Well, and I think it's, it's actually something I've thought about before. You also have to be really careful as, as an artist. And as, let's say, you know, a show director, a company director, or whatever that you just recognize the fact that it will always matter more to you than to anyone else. So if you're going to be effective at what you do, you, like you said, you have to have a message that you can, that can be translated that that's not.

[00:19:48] Ashley Taylor: And I think in order to do that, you really have to, you have to have an editing eye, and/or you need outside perspectives telling you "I'm not getting it" before it goes out to a wider audience. And like, think of the book publishing industry, you know, your book goes through multiple rounds of edits and proofreads and suggestions before it ever hits the shelves of a bookstore, unless you're self publishing, but you still should go through those steps if you're self publishing. So there have been many outside eyes looking at this project and saying, "I'm not quite getting it" or like "that character needs something more," but with the average dance company, in my personal experience, that doesn't happen. So there's no accountability to make sure that what you're trying to say is coming across. And again, you don't always have to have a message, but, but there needs to be, you need to be clear about the fact that you don't have a message, then you can't try half heartedly to put some kind of message in there. And it just doesn't go anywhere. If that makes sense.

[00:20:57] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. So I'm, I'm gathering you're not a fan of the whole Untitled Number One concept.

[00:21:03] Ashley Taylor: Oh my gosh.

[00:21:04] Lindsey Dinneen: Oh. Oh man. I think that should be banned in the art world, man. You have to come up with something.

[00:21:12] Ashley Taylor: Yeah, good grief. Yeah, that just seems, it seems lazy to me and I, yeah, again, I said this would be blunt.

[00:21:20] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, no, no, for sure. And, but I think that's, that's actually really interesting. I actually, I think you touched on something that's important and it is blunt, but I think that essentially part of what you're getting at is if you don't do this self editing or outside editing, it is lazy, right? Like you aren't doing your due diligence, you aren't kind of respecting the art form in a way.

[00:21:46] Ashley Taylor: Yeah. Yeah. I agree. Or you're assuming that the art form is so sacred or something that people will come anyway. I'm trying to think of an example that's not dance, but I don't know. I mean, even, you know, modern art, a lot of people don't get modern art, visual art. So I, and I feel like sometimes modern artists are like, "Well, I painted this, so you should look at it because it's painting and because I'm talented and I'm an artist and here it is. It's art." And, to which I would respond "Fine, but don't expect anybody to feel the same way about it than you do." I mean, I don't know. I think you have to communicate something, even if you're communicating everything is meaningless. Like, okay. That's, that's a message. But anyway.

[00:22:40] Lindsey Dinneen: Yes. That's a choice. Yeah. It's interesting that you put it kind of like that, because that is something that-- yeah-- so our friends over at Kansas City Aerial Arts, apparently in their rehearsal process when they're actively choreographing and then sort of doing the edits like you're talking about, their sort of funny catchphrase is, "Well, that's a choice." And, and I love it because it's true. You, you have lots of choices along the process of creating art and editing art. And you know, you can make a choice that ends up needing to be changed in the future. I mean, that's, that's what happens a lot too. I mean, goodness, actually a real world example is in going back and looking at some of the choreography that I've previously done, or right now that I'm resetting on our dancers, is looking back and going, "What was that, you know, you know?"

[00:23:39] Ashley Taylor: We all do it.

[00:23:40] Lindsey Dinneen: Right, and perspective. And you go, "That doesn't make sense. Why would I have that person come on from that side of the..." You know, just it's so funny, but it is so important to go back and, and improve every time I think too.

[00:23:54] Ashley Taylor: I was going to go off on another little rant-- not a ranch-- just a tangent. Yeah, I, yeah. So back when you were saying, talking about choices, "Well, that's a choice," so I don't have a problem with choices and I, and again, I don't think every piece of art is meant to be loved necessarily. So if you're choosing to communicate everything is meaningless and it's this very dark piece of art about that. You know, I don't have a problem with that as long as everything you do has a reason behind it and it supports your message. And I think a lot of times people miss that part. So I feel like, I think that we should start with the why and then go to the how and the what, and, and I'll explain that in a second, but I think a lot of people start with the what. They're like, "Well, we have to make a ballet."

[00:24:42] And then they go into the why sort of, if they even get there, but more or less, it's just, well, we had to make a ballet. So here's a fun little piece of music. And, you know, we'll put people on stage versus, to say, to go back and say why first? Why am I even doing this? Why am I here today? What am I trying to say? And, and once you know that, then you can say, "Okay, now how best do I say that?" So, personal example really quick. I have started writing things before and I thought it would be in prose form. And like, as soon as I started, I thought, "You know what? This wants to be a poem." And I can't explain it other than that, it was like this wants to be poetry, not prose. And I think, you know, in that case, it worked out better to express the idea that way or, you know, I know we're a ballet company. I know we normally dance on pointe, but this piece really needs to be danced barefoot, and that will enhance the vision of what I'm trying to say. So again, it's like your why is informing your what ,or your how versus the other way around, if that makes sense.

[00:25:48] So again, it's just, it's just about like every, every choice you make artistically needs to have a reason behind it and you need to be evaluating how that fits into your broader vision for this piece. Everything should support it. I remember in college my professors saying every, every person on stage needs to have a reason to be there. And if they're doing the exact same thing as everybody else, you need to question why they're there. So again, just having a reason. I'll stop there.

[00:26:18] Lindsey Dinneen: No, no, that's great advice. I love that. Actually I remember in choreography classes in college, them talking about if you're going to use the prop, you have to use the prep. You can't just have a random bench on stage that you don't interact with except for the beginning, or maybe the end. Like there don't do that. Or, you know, 'cause again, and what I've been trying to actually communicate to my choreography students is intentionality is everything, right? So you have everything has to have intentionality because I agree with you once you start being like, "Oh, whatever," you run into all the issues that emerged from that of, okay, but so there's no thought put into that. And you, I think you do need to constantly be asking yourself and or what you're editing, "well, why?" Like, as a, as an artist, you should be able to answer that very clearly.

[00:27:16] Ashley Taylor: Right. And if the answer is, " well, I just wanted to have them dance on a chair or, well, I just needed to use four couples instead of one." It's like, that's not a really good answer, frankly. So basically what you're saying is you had to adjust or water down the art in order to accommodate some limitation. And like, there are times to do that, but if you don't have to then, for heaven's sake, don't like, anyway, that's my thoughts. Or like, or people will say, "well, the music I want to use is 12 minutes. So this is going to be a 12 minute piece." And it's like three minutes in you've said everything you needed to say. I get it. And now I have to sit here and watch the repetition for another nine minutes. And like, I'm bored out of my mind. It's like, again, not that the dancers aren't good, but I don't need to, I didn't need to see that for 12 minutes. So cut the music, you know, make your, make your art or make your artistic choices work for the art.

[00:28:17] Lindsey Dinneen: What a brilliant little way to sum that up.

[00:28:21] Ashley Taylor: Thanks.

[00:28:22] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Yup. I like that. So I am curious when, okay, so we've talked about, you know, obviously you need to be communicating something, you need to be doing it well, which means a lot of editing and evaluation and re-editing again or whatever, but how do you feel about someone who's like, especially in the dance world, somebody who might produce a piece and their whole thing is, " I just want to make this as abstract as possible." Do you still feel that they need to communicate that that is the intention behind it? Or do you just not care for that style?

[00:29:07] Ashley Taylor: I-- this is my personal preference-- if you're going to do that and say this has no story, this has no message, it's just movement on stage, personally, if I'm going to watch a piece that has no meaning, I want it to be still moving. And what I mean by that is, I want the music to be interesting. I don't want some soundscape, you know? You know what I mean? It's like the sort of tuneless music during massage. Exactly. Yeah. It's like, yeah, I don't want that because that's, that doesn't do anything for me. And then, and then, so I want some interesting music and I want the movement to respond to the music or enhance it and I want it to be memorable movement. So if some, so that if a piece is so beautiful or so dynamic or so in your face, whatever it is that I stopped caring if there's a meaning behind it, I think you've still made art because you've, you've managed to say, to use a metaphor, the earlier metaphor-- you've managed to make really amazing sentences, just beautiful sentences with beautiful words. And I don't care what you're saying, if that makes sense, but so, but that's a challenge. Like that's really challenging to make a dance so interesting that like everybody's just mesmerized, right?

[00:30:37] So, and what I, so what I feel often happens is people will say, "Well, I'm going to make this abstract dance and then it's like nothing. Not only is it not communicating, but it's not interesting or unique or dynamic enough to, to move somebody." Like I could probably count on one hand the number of abstract, totally abstract dances. I've seen that I didn't care that there was no meeting. So, and like, I'm not even sure that I could make one. So like it's a challenge, but that's kind of how I would respond to that. Like if you're going to make that choice, fine. But then the art has to be like really different or just really moving. I keep using that word "moving."

[00:31:19] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Dynamic moving. Yeah. I agree. I actually think it's probably a harder artistic challenge to go that route well than it is to be communicating a specific message or story and, and that kind of touches back into what we were talking about with intentionality of, I absolutely agree. So I always say that I love tap dancing because you can't do a sad tap dance. And, and that's, that's the thing about tap is it just would be so absurd and ridiculous. Like you wouldn't be communicating well, if you tried to do that, I suppose trying to do a comedically tragic piece, right? But you know, which I think that could be fun. But my point is that, you know, if, if my goal is to communicate happy, then, you know, tap is a good choice. If my goal is to communicate sadness and loneliness, probably tap's not the best choice. So what would best communicate that? So I, I agree with you. I really liked the idea of starting with the why, and then working backwards. It's like Event Planning 101, right? You know, you, what's the, what's the date of the event and what are you trying to do with that event? Why are you hiring you and then you work back, right?

[00:32:38] Ashley Taylor: How do you want people to feel when they walk away from this event?

[00:32:41] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. What do you want them to have gained or learned or, yeah. Yeah. I love that. Right. Very cool. Well the manifesto is very well written and really worth the time to read as are Ashley's other musings. Do you mind sharing a link to your blog?

[00:33:01] Ashley Taylor: Yeah. So I'm at ashleyrebeccataylor.wordpress.com. And that's Ashley with a Y, Rebecca with two C's, ashleyrebeccataylor.wordpress.com. And if anybody is interested, on the contact page on my blog, I also have links to my YouTube channel, which is for dancing and also my Facebook page, which is for basically all the arts that I do.

[00:33:29] Lindsey Dinneen: All of the things.

[00:33:30] Ashley Taylor: All the things. Yes.

[00:33:32] Lindsey Dinneen: Yes. Awesome. I love it. Yeah, cool. Well, thank you for sharing about that, that particular post and kind of your, your musings and your feelings about, about, you know, an artist process and, and I really, I, you know, like you said, it's blunt, but I think it is a good gut check for any time that you do sort of want to just make a quick decision rather than a intentional decision or, you know, so I do think there's a lot of value to that. So thank you for kind of also bringing that back to awareness. I think especially maybe during COVID there were many of us who were like, I just need to create something, but you know, and that there's, there can be a lot of value in that and there can be a lot of value in doing so for you, but if you're going to be doing it for an audience of some kind, then, you know, let's, let's put that intentionality in it. Yeah. I really liked that. Exactly. All right. Well, I have three questions that I would love to ask you if you don't mind answering them.

[00:34:45] Ashley Taylor: All right.

[00:34:46] Lindsey Dinneen: So, first of all, what change would you like to see in the world of creating art or displaying art? Or making it available to people. So it essentially, what's, what's one big change you'd like to see in the art world?

[00:35:03] Ashley Taylor: Well, I think I've spent most of our time talking about it. But actually I, so I have a different answer which is more about the artists themselves in a way. So I don't know about other forms of art so much, but in the ones that I'm involved in, I feel like the message that we get as we get more serious about pursuing them is there's kind of one right way to pursue a career in this field, or, you know, even a serious hobby or whatever. So, you know, if you're a dancer, you kind of get the impression-- it's like, well, if you don't dance in a company or you're not appearing in commercial music videos or whatever it may be, then you're not, you haven't really made it, right? And I think so, you know, this is something I've been wrestling with a lot over the past few years because I don't have a regular dancing gig at the moment.

[00:36:00] And I feel like that message is harmful because it kind of makes you feel like you've failed if you either can't do that or don't want to do. And not wanting to go that route is totally valid. So how can we find more creative ways to make the art that we that we're passionate about, which may not be that traditional career route, right? So what I would like to see change is more people feeling the freedom if they don't see what they're looking for, the opportunity they're looking for, go make it right. I mean, create what isn't there yet. And give opportunities to other people who might feel the same way as you do about the career path that you've chosen or are up to not to choose.

[00:36:52] Lindsey Dinneen: Amen to that. Yeah, no good answer. But I really, obviously, I personally resonate with that because, you know, I had gotten to a point in my career where the opportunities to be apart of a full-time company here locally, we're just not the right fit anymore. And so that's exactly what I did. I, I didn't see something that could continue to work well, so I created a company. And thankfully there were enough people who were like, "Yes, we agree. We, we like this. Let's go that route." And we, we don't dance all the time. We, we do, you know, two big shows a year and then little gigs here and there throughout. But yeah. And I think that's, I think that's great.

[00:37:38] Ashley Taylor: Yeah, and it's, it's great because you don't, you know, there isn't one definition of what a dance company is or there shouldn't be so just because yours doesn't look like someone else's doesn't mean it's not a valid way to make art. Maybe might be an even a better atmosphere for making art. So why not try it, you know?

[00:37:58] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. And I, yes, exactly. Well, and I, I try to especially tell my students this. But I just think in general, so true what you said. I think that there are many avenues to a dream and if you can remain open to it, to them, to the other options, then you're going to be a lot happier and a lot more fulfilled, you know, in the long run, because there are a lot of ways to do it. Yeah.

[00:38:34] Ashley Taylor: Yeah. And you might even be more impactful. I mean, you never know.

[00:38:37] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. So, absolutely. Yes. Well, great answer. And then my second question is, is there something art related that stands out to you as something that you would love to do that is completely outside of your wheelhouse and maybe you've so far felt intimidated to try it and maybe that kind of held you back from trying it? So essentially, is there something that you artistically would like to venture into, but maybe haven't for whatever reason?

[00:39:10] Ashley Taylor: Yeah, there are many things. I mean, if I had my way, I would be good at everything, but I'm not. So I feel like the primary one is I would love to play the violin. I'm not really that musical. I mean, I am as a dancer, but not in the sense of playing an instrument. And I've, I have tried with, with disastrous results to play a few notes on other friend's stringed instruments before, so I would need some training, but yeah, but I would, I would love to try that, that instrument. And I think that'd be really fun. I, so that's very outside of my wheelhouse. The other one that comes to mind is musical theater which is more related to dancing and what I have experienced doing, but it's, it also feels very intimidating to be that well-rounded and sort of that showy in a way, but it sounds like a lot of fun. It always looks like they're having fun. So I'd love to try that too.

[00:40:07] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, that's, that's really cool. I totally relate to the musical theater thing. I just love watching it so much that I always thought it'd be really fun, but I am so intimidated by the idea of having to be a triple threat and like, yeah, well, maybe we should audition for something together at some point, just, you know, at least for the experience of it.

[00:40:31] Ashley Taylor: What? Abject failure?

[00:40:34] Lindsey Dinneen: We can pick each other off the floor. It'll be fine. That'll be fine. Awesome. And then my final question is, at the end of your life, what's the one art-related experience you would want to experience again for the last time?

[00:40:52] Ashley Taylor: So this is such a hard question because there are so many. So my answer is kind of funny because there's a, there's a piece of music that I have choreographed to. And I think it's probably the most beautiful piece I've ever heard, although that's hard to say, but it just moves me every time I hear it. And so I started telling people, I want this played at my funeral, which sounds like super morbid, and people would always sort of laugh awkwardly and be like, "Okay." Well, I think what I'm trying to get at with that statement is it's, it's so transcendent to me that that's kind of how I want to go on like thinking of, I'm thinking of a higher plane, I suppose, and something bigger than me and like kind of what lies ahead of death or what lies beyond death. So anyway, that's my little manifesto about it, but the piece of music is "Nearer My God to Thee," by The Piano Guys. So it's an arrangement of a hymn done on cello, multiple cellos, harmonizing with each other, and it is gorgeous, highly recommend listening to it.

[00:42:03] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. Yeah. That is a gorgeous, gorgeous piece of music. I, I agree with you. It's, it's amazing. There are, I mean, there's a lot of beautiful music out in the world, but there are certain ones that stand out as just every time I hear them, I'm like transported, or you said transcended, are you feeling like that? But yeah, that's yeah, you know, in fact it's really interesting. There was, there was somebody recently who was suggesting to do-- so, so I think there's probably a lot of us that find it difficult to just sit still and meditate. You know, come back to your breath, come back to your breath or whatever, you know, it's, it's hard to do that.

[00:42:47] But one suggestion that I heard recently was to put on a piece of music like that. And it's, that's just that you just listen to it and you don't do anything else. You close your eyes, you know, let that experience sort of envelop you and that's what you kind of not like necessarily meditate on, but the idea of like clearing your head and not being distracted by other things and things like that. And yeah, I did it once and it was really amazing because it's just, you know, you get sort of distracted if you're alone, even if you love the piece of music, if you're not like solely focused on that, it's easy to sort of let it not wash over you, right?

[00:43:29] Ashley Taylor: Oh yeah. But to bring your full focus to it. Yeah, I can, yeah, I can attest to that as meditative.

[00:43:35] Lindsey Dinneen: Yes, indeed. Yeah. Awesome. Well, Ashley, this has been amazing as I fully expected. So thank you so much for being here. And I know we have the information for your website and that's probably a good way for people to connect with you or to at least follow your work.

[00:44:03] Ashley Taylor: And I have an email on there too, so I'm always happy to chat about artistic things if that's desired.

[00:44:10] Lindsey Dinneen: Awesome. Perfect. Well, again, I really appreciate you. Thank you for sharing your heart and thank you for being blunt, and, and for challenging us to, to be our best and, and do our best. I think that's really important and I am very excited to follow the path of this novel and can't wait to purchase it when it's available for purchase.

[00:44:39] Ashley Taylor: And you'll be the first to know.

[00:44:42] Lindsey Dinneen: Excellent. All right. And thank you so much to everyone who has listened to this episode, and if you're feeling as inspired as I am right now, I'd love if you'd share this with a friend or two and we will catch you next time.

[00:44:57] If you have a story to share with us, we would love that so much. And I hope your day has been Artfully Told.

[00:45:07] Hi friends. I wanted to share with you another podcast that I think you're going to fall in love with just as I have. It's called Harlem with a View, and it is hosted by Harlem Lennox, who was a previous guest of mine on Artfully Told and a dear friend. Just because it looks easy doesn't mean it is. There is so much that goes into the work of your creative. She wants to know how the artists got into their line of work, what inspires them, but most importantly, what keeps them going? She'd asked them about how they make it through the blood, sweat, and tears. She wants to know what it's like to live this creative life: the good, the bad, the ugly, and even the magical. So she goes behind the scenes with creatives, from different genres and she explores their history, their take on life and talks about the business of art and the dedication of making art. She has a brilliant, brilliant platform. I think you will fall in love. I highly recommend that you search for Harlem with a View. Thanks!

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