We had the good fortune of connecting with Antuan Byers and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Antuan, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Work-life balance for me has changed a lot over the years. I don’t think I really understood it until the last year of being in the pandemic. When I didn’t have to juggle rehearsals, performances, in-person meetings, and events, it was way easier to overbook myself. You cut out all the travel time and the time it takes you to get on the train, hop in a taxi, get from point A to point B, and you end up filling up your schedule from 8 am to 10 pm with Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting.
I think this year when “work” and “life” became one with so many of us working from our homes, we really were tested on whether or not we had found a true work-life balance. For me, it’s all about setting boundaries.. If I have 24 hours in a day, how many of those hours do I want to be working? How many of those hours do I want to be resting? How many of those hours do I want to be watching Netflix? You really have to take a step back and look at what you’re doing with your days. Because your days turn into weeks, your weeks turn into months, your months turn into years, and your years turn into a lifetime. So these things do matter, and you don’t want your life only to be made up of only work. That’s why it’s called balance.
For me, it’s been about taking a zoomed-out approach, looking at my whole life picture, and asking what I can add more of, and what’s missing. And it’s a constant question. As a dancer, I’m always trying to find balance. That’s literally what I do for a living. With that, I train every single day to find that balance, and it’s not something that you immediately achieve. It’s a constant ebb and flow of finding what it means to be on, what it means to be off. In order to be on, you have to know what it means to be off. So that constant ebb and flow of checking in with yourself, checking in with your surroundings, checking in with the people you’re in community with and the people you work with, and ensuring that you’ve made clear boundaries will help you find that true balance.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When I introduce myself to people, I describe myself as a dancer, creative entrepreneur, and arts activist.
The dancer part is easy. I’d say I’ve been dancing professionally for almost ten years now. So that one is easy for most people to understand, but there’s a bit more to it. Creative entrepreneur is kind of a bucket term to catch all of the other things I do. I’m an organizer, model, content creator, stylist, teacher, collaborator, creative consultant, and so much more. It’s the term I use to describe all of that work I do, rather than listing all of that out. I’m also an arts activist, and I’m really passionate about the people that I work with, and am in community with. As a dancer, I’m always looking for ways to make our field more equitable and safe for people to participate in.
I think what sets me apart is that I’m not really focused on one of those things, but actually how all of these things work together. I am a product of all of these things, and all of these things make up who I am. Whenever you see me in one space, you also see the other parts of me. When you see me on stage performing, hopefully, you see some activism. Hopefully, you see someone who’s a brother, a cousin, an uncle, a teacher, and cook sometimes. And hopefully, in the same way with my activism, you see a dancer, an artist, or a community member, and so on.
How these things live together inside of me always comes up in my art, and that’s what makes it unique. I’ve chosen a life where those things intentionally co-exist. I’ve melded those things together to define my artistic practice, which also is my professional practice and personal practice.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Food, food, and more food! That’s the best way to explore Dallas.
I would probably start our day by grabbing some coffee at State Street Coffee. Then I’d probably head downtown to hang out in the Arts District. What’s great about Dallas, is that all the art you need you can get in one spot in the Arts District. I’d probably spend the morning at the Nasher, before heading to Elaine’s Kitchen for some tender and delicious curry chicken with rice and peas. Then we’d head back downtown to Klyde Warren Park to see some public performances, or just enjoy the warm Dallas breeze. After that, it’d only be right to have a homemade dinner from my parents, in which I’d proudly request my dad’s favorite fried fish! Before we knock out, I’d sneak off and get some snowcones from Bahama Bucks and enjoy the sunset through the sunroof.
There’s so so much to see in Dallas, but this would be a perfect day of family, art, culture, food, and the outdoors.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to dedicate my shoutout to Alysia Johnson! She’s a Dallas Native, and Dancer in Chicago with Hubbard Street Chicago!
Eric Politzer, Nicki Bosch, Antuan Byers,