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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.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Exquisite Pain

Today we had folks come in to watch some sections of “Klezmer Dances”. This went rather well considering this ballet is new to all but three of us. These situations are always good in that they seem to bump us up a notch. We have to find a way out of snags or mishaps during the course of a run-through, and this begets a deeper inquiry into a piece.

This audience in particular helped immensely in gently guiding us toward an understanding of traditional Jewish dances. James is very clear that he is not attempting to manfacture a culture other than his own. He is instead inspired by this music and by the idea, inherent in Judiasm, that dance is the highest form of worship.

And so we are off on an investigation of exquisite pain, agony and ecstasy, shame and pride, that reflect the tradition of Jewish culture. These are our new launching pads for the piece. It’s now becoming an inside-out process, no longer anymore just about the steps and pointed toes. (Steps and pointed toes are inherent to us, so they will be there, just no longer as the main focus. Rather, no longer mine.) I feel free to conduct experiments, to flub a step in the name of exploration and deepening.

Tomorrow we will begin to reconstruct my solo. I am eager and slightly nervous, in the best sense. I’ve been thinking of having a closed door policy, just me and James. But tonight I’m pretty sure I’ve decided to let it be open. My process is everyone’s and theirs is mine. This is, blessedly, that kind of company. If I truly work from the inside out anyway it shouldn’t matter. These folks are my people.

During a conversation with James last week we were discussing the solo and how he, this time around, wants to get me to a place that is estatic in my experience. I was saying how hard that will be for me. I have a much easier time being dramatic and angsty. He knows that about me, and when I assumed everyone felt that way, he said that he doesn’t. He is not afraid to express his ecstatic joy. And so that’s my starting point. I will attempt to bridge the gap between my fears and their revealing. This task feels so apt at this juncture in my life. What a perfect opportunity to finally shed. I have a real tragedy to call upon, and now that I’m mostly through to the other side, I see joy. I experience it daily now, again. So on to the task of expressing it, letting it out, giving it voice through my performing, but first, through this newly informed process.

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