“‘Burn out’ often occurs in any intense profession and we must take an intelligent approach to maintaining high quality standards by sustaining a crucial healthy life balance, both physically and mentally.”
For Michael Johnson, dance is not a solitary artform. Throughout his career he has made meaningful connections with directors, teachers, and other artists also passionate about dance outreach. He used his fellowship to reconnect with some of these experts in New York and other major cities. Johnson and his colleagues traded their best strategies for engaging children in dance, envisioned multi-school performances, and discussed the importance of dance (and the arts in general) to the human condition. “Time spent in NYC advanced me as an expert in my field, kept my vision clearly defined, emphatically reinforced our social responsibility to do what we do, and ensure that we incorporate the best possible practices,” he said. Johnson also explored art exhibitions and participated in various workshops.
This high-mobility part of the fellowship was followed by a slower pace: a retreat to a cabin along a Native American river in Virginia. He was devoid of electronics, and pouring rain created flooding that barred him from leaving—the isolation was unfamiliar, but so, so necessary. “I watched the river, the rain, the clouds, the wind, the sunset, and the moon,” Johnson said. “I observed the wildlife, fish jumping, soaring bald eagles, and a rabbit that wanted to see me as much as I enjoyed watching him.” He imagines that his renewal will spark fresh energy that will affect not just himself but his community as well.