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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

I am a dancer with Minneapolis based James Sewell Ballet, a small, contemporary ballet company. I also choreograph independently.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

"Glorious Noise" and the Quest for the Holy Grail

I’m thinking the Holy Grail, for all of us, as a concept, is Home. Since separating with my husband life has been boiled down to an essence which is this concept. Implicit in it, at least for me, is love, acceptance and art-making.

The other night I saw a show that astounded me in its sincere and sheer-will effort to exist: “Glorious Noise”. It played at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, the coolest, weirdest institution in town.

Rik Reppe wrote a show that dymanically intertwines soulful music and singing with stories, narratives, about his many and varied experiences at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, pre and post Katrina. (Or as the locals say, “the Bitch!”)

As a man who admits to running and seldom, if ever, stopping, Rik sure does read folks well and can spin a yarn that emanates Truth. That running part struck a chord in me. One of the complaints my husband had/has is this quality in me, my need to never stop for fear of atrophy, inertia or worse, actually confronting myself. Our separating, therefore, sent a shock-wave through my system, down to the core, so that now I have no choice but to allow inertia to occassionally set in, for about five minutes a stretch.

When I think about it, when I have an enlightened enough perspective, this is a real gift. And not just a thing. There is no accountable, tallyable value. It is the gift, the return, of the reins to my heart.

This is frightening to say the least. But then I remember. I can hitch my cart, and have all along, to my dancing, my art, the thing that, though I occassionally run away from it, I’m running toward. I’m just carving a wider circle to get to where I’m going. I therefore pick up along the way, not baggage, but life experience, depth, soul, compassion and grace. Pretty useful tools in the tool box.

As I engage in my current project of choreographing for MN Orchestra’s staged version of “Carmen”, I find that taking charge in the studio again, with trusted colleagues, is helping me get my groove back. I finished the piece last night. We have one more rehearsal, just us dancers, before we get with the musicians next week.

I literally created this thing backwards, starting with the last section, so now we’re all confused. What’s next? I know I know the steps; they’re in there somewhere. Art really does reflect life sometimes. Backwards, upside-down and, occassionally, underwater.

Which brings me back to “Glorious Noise”. There’s been this weird thing that’s come over me the past several years. It’s got something to do with my relationship to music. How, when it comes to popular music, non-dead-composer music, I clam up, shut down, get embarrassed. And so another gift I received the other night (as I found myself in the front row!) was that I received the full force of this home-grown music and my heart opened. Because it was shared with such generousity. It was welcoming, not intimidating. It was like one of the stories from the show: everywhere else, plans exclude. As in, “What are you doing tonight?” “Oh, I’m getting together with so-and-so and so-and so…” (You’re not invited!!!) Whereas in New Orleans a plan is an invitation. Call up four people to say you’re throwing some food on the grill and pretty soon you have forty-two.

That’s how it was with this music. It was an invitation and I accepted. One more bar down. One step further on my quest.

The joke is, this concept of home is a changeable thing. It’s slippery and elusive and electric, like an eel. It’s a riddle, a rhyme; it’s different every time. So I guess it becomes about keeping one’s finger on the pulse of what it reveals itself to be today, this moment. We lose it for awhile, but then it finds us, revealing itself through an encounter with a kindred spirit or in sitting in the blessed breeze on my balcony and just, sitting.

As these dog days of summer wind down, the temperature rises and, do I detect?, my spirits do too. My bare feet are touching ground again, returning from the nebulous (but necessary) floating of shock.


Blogger Andrew said...

Love, acceptance and art-making. You could almost build a whole lifestyle on that, and look after several of our basic human needs.

To Love, Honor and Dismay

7:45 PM  

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