Q&A with Lorna Brown

I had the pleasure of speaking with Lorna Brown over the phone and immediately it is imminent that the creativity inside of her pours into everything she does. Her passion for life is evident in her role as choreographer, activist, mentor, performer and artist. We welcome Lorna as the newest member of AIT’s Advisory Board and would love for you to get to know her a bit better.

GK: You are known for such original program concepts as a professional, but the one that stands out most is a piece you won with at the 1980  World Professional Championships. Tell me about the program and your inspiration behind it. 

LB: It was based upon the movie Jonathan Livingston Seagull (originally a fable written by Richard Bach). It was about a bird who didn’t fly with the rest of the flock. He transcended into other dimensions and was able to dive into the ocean. I could relate to that because I was always a bit different and didn’t follow the flock if you know what I mean. And so that really inspired me to make my program.

GK: You and John Curry have a long history together. Please share with me how you met and what your relationship was like. 

LB: John and I were like kindred spirits. We met in London from a young age and trained together at the Streatham Ice Arena in London. We would talk about the possibilities of doing an ice ballet featuring all kinds of dancing. We would improvise and play Romeo and Juliet on the ice.

Everything that John did, he did with finesse. He knew his music and dancing. He danced onstage with Anthony Dowell, one of the greatest dancers Britain’s ever had. He did so many different styles like contemporary, classical and folk. It was wonderful.

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How I applied to YAS and why you should too

 

Hey there! So you’re on the fence about applying for the Young Artists Showcase? I know the feeling. It’s that teeter totter scenario — one day you feel up for the challenge and believe the world can be conquered one choctaw at a time.

The next, you hit a rut and in a flash that confidence disappears as we belly flop into the water.

 

I’m going to be very honest with you: If you decide to apply, the roller coaster of emotions are only beginning.

Getting a school report card can be stressful enough, but this is as if your grades were posted all over the internet with professors, loudspeaker in hand, telling the world their opinions of your work.

YIKES! Holy freakin’ cow of milk. It can be scary.

But if you don’t get anything else out of my spiel, please get this: YAS is absolutely, entirely, and whole-heartedly worth every single minute. YAS has kickstarted a career so that I’ve gotten to do all of this:

My beginning into choreography has been a process of intense education, study and motivation. But it started in a lot of fear.

If fear of failure is holding you back, channel it into opportunity. Make it happen for yourself. Let the world see what you can do. One huge lesson I’ve learned from YAS is that fear can be as big or small as I let it — the hairy, mammoth monster waiting to chomp my head off or the house fly I flick away with my finger.

Now that my Oprah moment of motivational speaking is over, I’ve gathered three common responses people give for not applying to YAS and I’ll elaborate on my experience dealing with those same thoughts.

1) “I’m not going to apply to YAS because my work isn’t good enough.”

When I first heard about YAS, it was right before the first installment got underway in 2010. Since being a youngster, I had always wanted to create on the sheet of ice I called home. Discovering that there was a competition for skating choreographers was the most thrilling opportunity of a lifetime. I knew this was the gateway into the world I had always wanted to enter into. Except there was one wee little minor issue: I missed the cut.

Here’s where that word comes in: FEAR. Meaning the hairy-mammoth-monster kind of fear. Suddenly a slew of thoughts went through my head and back out like a continuous flow of projectile vomit. Cue in the sob story vocal track:

“Maybe I am not made out for this?” “I just don’t have enough talent.” “My opportunity just isn’t going to come.” Cry me a river, etc. etc. etc.

After the sob story and a few visits to Dr. Phil, I decided to do something about it. I made myself learn more about the choreographic process, get mentored, and learn from others. Having ideas were never the issue for me – it was about learning the translation of those ideas onto the ice. It fueled inside me a new passion to organize my philosophy, thought process and work ethic.

So if you don’t think you’re good enough, realize that you probably never will. It’s that perpetual motion of false perception where we need to “feel” like we are good enough in order to do something. That’s all a lie the hairy, mammoth kind of fear tells us. Strive to get better because that’s the only way to move upward.

2) I’m not going to apply to YAS because I can’t handle the criticism.”

When the time came for YAS2, I was beyond excited. I promised myself I would take the opportunity and was thrilled to get selected as a contestant. The competition itself was a whirlwind of emotions and placements. One week I won a challenge, the next I was near the bottom. One challenge I got five stars from a judge and two stars from another. And it’s all happening via YouTube, the most public forum possible.

The worst criticism will come from yourself. After posting a challenge, a flood of thoughts would overwhelm me on ways I could improve this or that. I would over-analyze and psyche myself out. But let your criticism fuel your progress instead of being a detractor.

When you get criticism from a judge, take it all in — the good and the bad. I used to look at challenges I scored poorly on and get down on myself, but now I take a different approach. I look at every single challenge as a stepping stone. Getting feedback every single week from a different panel of judges with varying backgrounds, lenses and perceptions is truly educational. Every week I was challenged on the way I viewed choreography.

Know that every challenge will change you. You are an artist constantly evolving. And that’s really the goal isn’t it? To be able to continually create, learn and mature in our craft.

3) I’m not going to apply to YAS because I don’t think I have the time for it.

I decided to do YAS3 because I knew I wanted one more chance at it with all the education I had been getting. I took more dance classes, took MCT, studied all types of choreography and continually kept creating myself to keep ideas flowing.

And I got organized.

I finished runner up and feel like a large contributing factor was simply being organized. You’ll never feel like there’s enough time to do a challenge and often times unforeseen circumstances will bite at the last minute, but be prepared for all scenarios. Get your talent lined up, have at least three ideas for each challenge as a back up, appoint video people, start talking to your rink about ice time, etc. There’s a lot that goes into it, but in my experience most people are cooperative when they realize what a cool thing YAS is.

So I hope I’ve convinced you to take the plunge and apply. Take a risk — YAS teaches you how to do that pretty quickly. When you take a risk, we have to throw away that fear, so flick it off with your finger. There’s an entire YAS community waiting to usher you in and we promise we won’t let that hairy, mammoth monster of fear get near you.