Barefootblogger: thoughts on dance

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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, October 29, 2006

Ties that Bind

Is it the finalty of divorce that hits like such a shockwave, or more like the feeling that it’s the end of an era? I’m thinking probably both.

My tether to J has been cut. I can no longer lay claim to him in any way. All dealings now are voluntary, not obligatory. Given the nature of our relationship, I know this distinction will not matter; our fondness for one another will inform any future interactions. But there’s something about that piece of paper, about the phrase “Dissolution without Child”, that matters.

Marriage matters. It is a circumstance set apart. It is a tie that binds, and if severed, burns like hell.

This mattering is what breaks my heart about the GLBT community not having the right to do it. (As if we “straight” folks set such great examples.) We get to do it, and I do not take that for granted. We have the right to go for it, to fuck it up, to succeed, while others do not. No good.

It’s because of this mattering that I and my heart are not taking this lightly. It’s a big deal, and I’m sad. Even as I’m all about my new changing, pieces of me break all over again at this dissolution. It is a death.

My Buddhist practice tells me that life and death are simultaneous. I do believe this, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t mourn. Indeed, I do. Yet my mourning will beget new life, I know.

It has already weirdly opened up my dancing. I have a general sense of increased fearlessness about the whole enterprise. If I can withstand this coming through to the other side of the severing of a marital tie, I can certainly put my ever-changing body into a leotard every day. I’ve let go of some primal baggage and thus am lighter.

That being said, my soul feels the fresh burden of a new heaviness. Perhaps it’s only temporary as I figure out where to stow it. Or maybe it will remain, integrated in a transparent way. However this comes out, in the meantime I am in an environment where any outcome will be accepted. I am blessed to be dancing among humans, not bun-heady robots where I’d have to stuff my circularity into squares.

While at the end J expressed an absense of marital love, there nevertheless was a loving partnership. Now that I think about it, that concept carries a lot of weight. At the end of the day your partner is the person you can count on unconditionally. At the end of this day I uphold that concept, it’s just from afar now. And I know it’s reciprocated. I do.

In the absence of marital rights the GLBT community forges partnerships, and through this writing perhaps I’ve changed my own mind. Perhaps a partnership is the strongest thing. From where I stand, it’s what I have left: a binding tie that defies paper.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

At This Dark Hour

Hits sometimes
Like lightening
At others
Like an oncoming storm

The rolling of thunder
The darkening sky
Piercing raindrops
Right into
My mouth

I absorb
I inherit
The wind
It blows
The leaves off
Nearby trees
The ones surrounding my view
Protecting and


It is dark now
Night and the storm
Of my life
At this moment

And yet

There are
Of joy

The leaves continue to fall
And fall

At this dark hour
All is somehow still

I well up
Go blind
I am not sure

I sit quietly
Smoke rises
I remember to be sad
It is contained in my body
That occassionally defies

I murmer
Whispered wishes
Well wishing
All things for the best

I continue
I dance
I swallow hard

What next?

The leafless trees
New buildings are exposed
Showing me
That life goes on
And in a heavy way

I sway

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I look inside for humility. That’s reality.
Mere language, phraseology, isn’t reality.
I want burning, burning!
Be friends, all of you, with your burning.
Burn your thinking in humility.
Burn your phrases.


Reading the above on a plane, I take this to heart even as I wonder at its meaning.

My burning is directed toward the moon, toward its cycles in relation to those of my


I burn,
Standing in the flame like sister Joan.

To now stop in place. To then remount and begin another pass up the spiral.

These burning times
Are heady as they
Come knocking.

My blank watchface
Tells me little but that I am here and it is

Some time.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

To Be Downstage Left

I dance because of its immediacy. I was reminded of this last weekend as JSB performed our fall season at the Guthrie’s McGuire Theater. I danced and remembered.

James opened the program with a solo performed while reciting Hamlet’s famous soliliquy. This was an inspired addition to our show. Created in NYC in 1992, this revival affords him the right to claim that he is the first to perform “Hamlet” at the new Guthrie. His movements aligned with then juxtaposed the language, rich in its simple delivery. We all listened from backstage, continuing our warm-up. On Sunday however, I wanted to give it my full attention. I watched from the edge of the first wing, downstage left. I was blown away by that simple delivery thing, and newly inspired for my own solo/(silent)soliliquy in “Klezmer Dances”.

At the beginning we each emerge from the center. I am first, and so get to do a small, grounded solo before I link with N. I leave him falling into J, then begin my circling. I walk, at first toe-heel, then heel-toe for two rounds before evolving into lunging, chugging, and finally, running. We are all running. We come together in a joyous, hand-clasped circle. We weave, with and without holding on. We end the section in pairs. The waltz begins.

For me, it is this initial circling that sets the tone. In the pure red shell of our new theater, in our russet and rust costumes, we are open-hearted and invited.

I watched from that same wing every performance of Sally’s new “Brahms Duet”. My proximity to the action, to the expressive faces and bodies of Sally and M as they gripped and grabbed, fell into and, ultimalely, away from, one another, was a private taking-in. I was privy to many rehearsals, and with each viewing my heart has absorbed more fully the beautiful ironies of life, mine included.

This week brings a needed planned lay-off. I am in Houston setting James’ “Amahl and the Night Visitors”. I am bonding with new dancers, folks I will perform with in December when I return to dance the role of Amahl with this group, Sandra Organ Dance Company. I reconnect to myself, reaccessing the immediacy of my quirks and natural rythyms. It is a relief to be away from my hectic schedule (though I miss my cat and balcony, and, I’m ashamed to say, my car).

This empty time, like spacious Texas, is filled up with my changing. I plot the day tomorrow, beginning with a Graham class and ending in the old home of a new friend.

I see possibility, sense it even in my end-of-the-day aching back that so often feels so much better. To be or not to be? To be, to be, to be…

Monday, October 09, 2006

In My Attempt

My heart remained intact
I performed in the studio
With integrity
In my intention

The moon began shrouded
Then later cleared
Revealing itself
In its clarity

The skyline
Of this city that I call home
Was clear
And graceful

As we near performance time
My heart reaches out
And upward
To be read
Remaining quiet
To beat my song

I long
To share
To spread
To be read

In my attempt
I follow
And am led

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I sit
The bare necessities
Are here
My hands
My feet
Adhering to the surfaces:
Kitchen tile, wood, carpet
My heart yearns
And stands to be alone

I breathe
No faking
But protecting

I do a dance in a circle
And remember
And forget
It is for all of us
On this other side of love

No longer clinging
To what has been
But to what is becoming
And becoming

I find myself
Even as I want to get lost
And again risk
Pain and my heart
That is fragile and ever-strong

I sing in the car
Notorious bad voice actually able
Alone in my protection

Is there left to learn

How to burn