Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District
Alana Cole-Faber is a 36-year-old dance trapeze artist and instructor. She lives in North Brentwood, and is married, with twins.
“I landed here by accident, but I choose to stay because there are so many exciting new things happening here every day, and the people here are just great,” she says. “I’ve lived lots of places – Manhattan, Montreal, and Honolulu – but this area is my favorite so far.”
Alana’s students come from the Arts District as well as from Washington DC. She uses space at Joe’s Movement Emporium to teach her classes because the location allows her to draw people from both sides of Eastern Avenue. “I love what’s happening in the Arts District, but I also think there are exciting things happening just outside its borders, too, in Brookland and in College Park. This makes the Arts District a great place to live and work, because it is this wonderful artistic center right in the middle of everything, with a beautifully diverse population of folks who have different backgrounds and interests. There is always something new to do and always someone interesting to meet.”
When asked what is her biggest accomplishment, she said, “Seeing my students succeed means more to me than anything I create as an individual. I always feel like my biggest accomplishment is evident when I see my students master a new skill or perform a finished piece.
Her biggest challenge, like so many others, is money. People often comment that her classes are costly, but renting space, paying for insurance, instructors and training gets expensive. “That is a big one because we have to train ourselves in order to stay strong enough to teach our students. You can’t just walk in off the street and demonstrate how to fly on a trapeze. If there’s a wealthy philanthropist out there reading this who has always wanted to join the circus, we could use your help!”
Alana finds that being a little bit “ruthless” with budgeting is necessary, which sometimes means making changes that are not popular. Having a job outside of art creation is necessary for her as well, both for financial and personal reasons. She states, “I find that if I’m not doing something other than making art, I burn out quickly. I need the contrast of a desk job in my life to keep the creative side going.”
As much as Alana loves Joe’s, she dreams of having my own studio so that she and her instructors can afford to train more and expand their offerings. “I would love to make trapeze more accessible to people, but it’s hard to do without space. There are a lot of aerialists around without a proper studio home.”
What does a typical day look like for Alana?