Five things I learned during my first big girl artist residency

“Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside… Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look like they always have… Truth is there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one in the whole wide world.” – Neil Gaiman


If you have been following my blog, you might have noticed that I just completed my RAW Artist in Residence Program with SAFEhouse Arts in San Francisco. The RAW Artist Residency is a program which gives the artist 13 weeks of 4-hour per week rehearsal space in a dance studio. At the end of the 13 weeks, we get to show what we have been working on in a performance setting, which is *hopefully* a fully formed idea. 

This is the first opportunity I have had since starting UNFINISHED PEOPLE to make an evening length show. I learned SO MUCH during the process,  but since I am narrowing it down to five…

  1. Tech time is I am so glad that I had the artist residency at this point in my career because I just didn’t know how important tech time was. Usually when I show pieces, the tech time is rushed because it is more of a showcase situation and there are many other artists to go through. It was really cool to get a tech time all to ourselves. I guess that is a perk of doing an evening length piece.
  2. Basic [crude] photoshop skills. GROWNUPSHaving a picture for PR and Marketing things that represents your company and idea is crucial. I did not really realize this until I had to send something in to represent UNFINISHED PEOPLE and I had a deadline to do it. I basically imported a picture into photoshop, which I very little experience using and went to town…. then I scaled everything back a notch and sent it in. Being able to have control with how our image was represented was really valuable. It taught me that everything I post, no matter where (either publicly as UNFINISHED PEOPLE or on my private accounts) is important. Since we are such a new company, it is was like our first impression to the world, so hopefully it was a good one…
  3. How to go with the flow. 
    what happens when I don't go with the flow...

    An example of what happens when I don’t go with the flow… Relax, Rosalia.

    The only concrete goal I had for the residency was to make an evening length cohesive dance piece with solos for each performer. I knew that I wanted to have a lot of actual dancing in the piece as opposed to some of my previous work which was more like emotive and gestural. I didn’t know what I wanted to make the piece about though. As the residency progressed, significant, but subtle life changes started to happen in my life which forced me to grow up. With this opportunity I started to realize that making art was the most important thing to me. I started being brave enough to identify as a “choreographer” and “dancer”. I started to own my identity. Which brings me to…..

  4. Vulnerability is empowering. 
    Don't let go, Robert!

    Don’t let go, Robert!

    Through my experience in being on stage and performing my own work… I have learned that the vulnerability is real. There is no one to shoulder the blame if something goes wrong or looks weird. My art is an extension of myself. On the flip side of that, being vulnerable is empowering…. maybe not the very second you are on stage, alone… but I know in my heart that every struggle I have and everything I go through is not special or unique, other people go through similar things too. When we talk about things that are hard, it gives everyone who is receiving the information permission to be vulnerable and feel feelings and I think that is a beautiful thing.

  5. I need help some(all of the)times.
    We did it!

    We did it!

    It was completely incredible to work with such a solid team of artists during the residency. All of my dancers are not only beautiful dancers, but such kind compassionate humans. One or two nights before our show we still hadn’t figured out costumes so my dancers came to my house in Oakland with everything from their wardrobe that might work for the piece (with little descriptive help from me…). We went through all the clothes between us and found things to wear that were also danceable. It was so amazing to know that these wonderful people, Robert, Mae, and Hannah had my back. I could go on and on, but just know that they are the best.


I wanted to thank Joe and everyone at SAFEhouse and whole heartedly recommend the program to anyone who wants space to create. Now that the artist residency is over, I am really enjoying the “time off”.

Don’t fret though. I have some exciting ideas brewing up my sleeve. Time to change my shirt 😉

Until next time.



If you want to learn more about SAFEhouse Arts and the RAW Residency Program, click here.