Have you ever had something you wanted to do- a skill you wanted to learn, a trip you wanted to take, a project or even business that you wanted to start- but you just didn’t have any idea of how to start?
I’ve had a dream in the back of my head about a place I want to create since I was 17 years old but I always thought I needed certain experiences or qualifications or a specific amount of money to make it happen. It also looks vaguely like Hogwarts for teachers, so I might need some magical skills as well.
One of my fellow New York City Ballet teaching artists is the incredible Mari Meade, director of Mari Meade Dance Collective. The company has presented works through prestigious festivals and organizations including the 92st Y, Dixson Place, Triskelion Arts, Judson Church, and Fringe Festivals across the nation. Mari and her husband were recently featured in an article, “Retreat from the Divided States in America’ from The Brooklyn Rail for their new artist residency facility, Moulin/Belle, in southern France.
Mari is someone I personally look up to in many ways. At every professional development and teaching workshop we have at NYCB, I always take inspiration from her comments, ideas, and the activities she leads. She has always been generous with her knowledge of grant or choreography opportunities, and is somewhat of a mentor to me personally. It’s always a good thing when your colleagues are also your friends and people whom you both admire and feel comfortable asking for help, AKA bothering.
Which brings us to today’s video interview. Mari and I chatted over zoom because I wanted to hear all about Moulin/Belle- a sustainable artist residency in southern France, I mean, COME ON!
Mari has a beautiful way of articulating the process of following through on an idea like this, or like the one I’ve been stashing in my mind since I was 17, and maybe like one you have tucked away.
We discuss both practical aspects like timing, buying property, and building community to more personal work like understanding your own skill set and being able to ask for help. It sounds like a lot of work but also filled with fun. You won’t believe what she discovered in her own yard, to use the cliché quite literally.
She also describes the goals of the residency and the facility. If you are a person, not even necessarily a professional artist of a specific kind, who is interested in communal, sustainable living, Moulin/Belle could be a wonderful opportunity. As an experienced artist, Mari also put considerable effort into accessibility since artist residencies or retreats are often expensive and impractical to people’s lives.
I’m starting to understand the necessity of community more and more, and to align with similar goals of simplicity and authenticity which Mari expresses in this interview and with her work in general.
I am so happy to share the work of my good friend Mari with the hopes she will encourage bold creativity and actionable plans for you, as she does in so many ways for the dance community and for me personally. Enjoy!