With Full Out, Julie and I wanted to tell a story about a different kind of success. Getting ahead doesn’t always mean ‘winning:’ sometimes it means letting go of what was previously weighing you down, achieving a lightness that allows you to ascend to the next level.

As women, queer ones and increasingly older ones, we carry weight. Not just in our hips and our breasts but on our shoulders. The weight of expectations (don’t be too angry or bossy or ambitious), illusions (you can have it all: the perfect body, the perfect job, and the perfect family), the disappointments of our mothers, their mothers, their mothers’ mothers. It crushes us, pushes us into cracks where we can only grow into pre-conceived molds that define artistic, career-oriented, financial, maternal, feminine ‘success,’ which, ultimately, means ‘acquiescence.’ Through our work, we want to bust out of these cracks.

The world of dance tends to be homogenous and heteronormative, heavy with constraints designed to control body, mind, and identity. What audiences see as weightless expressions of grace and freedom come from rigorous, often body-breaking training designed to shape muscles and minds in particular ways. Full Out is a series that explores what happens to expressions of one’s authentic self amidst the rigorous constraints imposed on women by the dominant culture, magnified by dance culture.

The series follows the trials of Claire, who, in order to find success and fit into the dance world, has always kept her true self hidden. As a result, she has pushed herself too far in some respects and held herself back in others, tethered to insecurity, the approval of others, and the reality of injury. Conversely, her rival, Taylor, is all passion, all bravado, always bursting with her full expression of herself despite pushback from not only her fellow dancers but those in positions to really let her fly: as every woman knows, ambitious women are punished.

On our toes. On our backs. In our heads. At attention. Our necks and knees and backs bow until we are kneeling, praying for every little scrap that might be tossed to us. Women are told to be grateful. We are taught acceptance, patience, and techniques for quieting discontented men. And then…in the midst of struggling, we find our voices, and they become stronger, and we become more comfortable sharing them, shouting them. Our words and our films and our voices soar. To achieve this, to be heard, to be elevated, to be appreciated, to make a difference: this is to truly transcend the weight we carry, to avoid placing it around the necks of those who blossom after us.