Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reasons #5 to #101

I'd just rather dance than do anything else.


At all.


Reason to dance #5: It's better than anything else.

Reasons to dance #6-#101: please see reason #5.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Looking for a Good "Hot" Escape?

There are the legitimate things we need to escape from - abusive parents, a negative spouse, debt, doubt, fear of anything or everything...laziness as a way of life might even be enough of a reason to escape.

For an excellent vice - I'd like to recommend a dance studio. One with large Marley covered floors, mirrors floor to ceiling, and music pounding so loud that conversation or reflective thought is impossible.

This is the chance to let your guard at the gate of your insecurities down and pretend you are the best dancer in the world. This is the chance to be someone with fire and passion and precision. You can be brilliant and glorious and no one has to know it isn't you. Even though, deep down inside - you hope it is you, and will always be - all through the rest of your life. Even when you walk out the door.

Tonight, while teaching my "Hot Mama's" class, something snapped in my left knee while my sprained ankle barked incessantly "Stop jumping!!"  It's hard to rise to "hot" when one knee is on strike and one ankle won't give in and play well with the others.
I keep hoping to escape the ever encroaching knowledge that my dancing days may be over. That the guard at my gate will now only let my brilliant-precise-fire-dancer out for a minute. My inner fire dancer is becoming an ember. Having used dance as my primary vestige of escape this leaves me with nowhere to run and hide. Maybe I just won't walk out the door! Or I could fire the guard. I never liked him anyway.

Reasons to Dance #4: Escaping into who you know you are, if only the guard at the gate will let you out.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

#3: Living Rooms

The first ballet I ever choreographed was entitled: "Blue Leaves." I was 5. My neighbor, Jan, cut out hundred's of blue leaves and we glittered each one carefully. Jan threw the leaves in the air as I magnificently executed each, well, for a lack of a better word - twirl. Our Living Room Theatre held our families under protest, as our audience.

 I wish I had understood this quote then  - or at least by now:

"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.

And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open.

No artist is pleased.

There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."

~Martha Graham to Agnes  de Mille

Check her out! This is Martha Graham.
“I wanted to begin not with characters or ideas, but with movements . . .I wanted significant movement. I did not want it to be beautiful or fluid. I wanted it to be fraught with inner meaning, with excitement and surge.”–Martha Graham

She wanted significant movement. I think she got it.

Okay, so, my "Blue Leaves" ballet was neither beautiful nor fluid - but, it was fraught with inner meaning and there was lots of glitter. My brother laughed at it. Loudly. It was deeply humiliating. My tender, 5-year-old self threw the blue leaves in the air and punched him in the kneecaps.That was my significant movement.  I didn't create another ballet until I was in my forties (still with lots of glitter). 

But, in the meantime, I danced other's significant movement and their valuable ideas. How lucky is that? To have grown up and noticed the creative, intelligent human beings around me - and to have ignored my brother...eventually... I wonder if Martha and Agnes ever had anyone laugh at their ideas...of course they did. (It probably wasn't their brother though.) These two women went on to change the world of dance and didn't seem to care what anybody else thought. Admirable.

Reason to Dance #3: Surviving a brother's laughter

I'm having the hardest time clicking "publish post" on this entry. I am not satisfied with it. There is just no satisfaction of any kind with any art. Even a blog.

Any Living Room Ballet stories??

Reason #4: in the works.

About Martha: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/martha-graham/about-the-dancer/497/
About Agnes: http://www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/artists/?entity_id=3719&source_type=a

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall. Every Single Wall.

To dance is to abandon self-consciousness completely and let go.

There isn't anything better than that.

But, in every dance studio there are walls of mirrors. "You" are everywhere. No escape. To dance is to spend most of your life in front of a mirror, judging yourself and comparing everything. Judgement is not conducive to abandonment. Yet, without the mirrors - how do you know if you're good enough?

A quandary. How to let go while making sure your ribs are down, your feet are pointed, your knees are pulled up,  shoulders are down, pants aren't up your..., you aren't pulling your pants out of your..,your face is relaxed, you are skinnier than the blonde next to you. And sucking your cheeks in so you look emaciated only works until you are about 18. After that you are forced to confront the truth. You have full cheeks, yet you still want to dance.

Here's how I've worked this out: 

Listen to the music. It is actually the most important thing.

Force yourself, with every ounce of control, to look only at yourself in the mirror to correct your own personal lines. "Dance in the body you have." (Agnes DeMille)

Remind yourself daily that - with this dogged determination - you can have the chance to live for a moment and dance in complete abandonment. 

"Good enough" is relative, unfortunately, usually relative to the blonde next to you. But, sometimes, she doesn't show up.

Reason #2 to Dance: Socially acceptable abandonment. And it's more than wonderful.

Now, aging in front of a mirror, while still dancing - there's a fun and delightful exercise - but not recommended without adult supervision. I wish I knew an adult. 

Anyway...Anyone else with another reason to dance?

Reason # 3 arriving soon - ish.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The First Reason

You are 2 years old and you hear music. You must dance or at least bounce repeatedly.

You must stand in your combo "ballet/tap/gymnastics" class every Saturday morning with 10 other little girls in black patent leather tap shoes and smack your toes as hard as possible on the floor - repeatedly.

You must spin in circles until the teacher picks you up and sets you dizzily on your feet - repeatedly. Hopefully before you spew pancakes on your classmates.

And you must dance for anyone who will sit still and watch you, even if only for a second.

Most of this is still true for me and I've been dancing for almost 50 years.

I don't know how to stop dancing. I don't want to. I love feeling surrounded by the music and knowing how to move with it (sometimes this still involves bouncing).

I feel beautiful, usually, when I'm dancing. And that is a rare, magnificent thing.

I actually can still pull out a triple pirouette on most days and can kick past my head. Although this is nothing compared to "before."

"Before" I held my own with some of the best dancers in the world. I miss that, although I'm stunned I ever got to dance at all.

A person who has never danced, has never lived. This is absolutely true.

I have truly lived, have a couple of scars from it, and a couple of parts that don't work anymore as a result, but during the "truly living" I had more fun than should be allowed.

Without further expanation, I give you The First Reason to Dance: Because you must.

Anyone else have a good reason to dance?

The second reason to dance that I know of is: coming in the next entry.