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, November 26, 2006


Last night N and I performed my new duet, “Parallel”, in the Walker Art Center Choreographer’s Evening. It is tradition that this annual showcase is held on the Saturday night after Thanksgiving. In my case, thinking of last night, this is most appropriate as I am indeed thankful.

There were two shows back to back. I like the rythym of that. When I feel good, like I’m proportioned and that life is balanced (or tilted in a good direction), I don’t need superlatives. I don’t need to be the best or prettiest or thinnest. I can share my toys and meld my light with the collective. That’s how I felt last night, especially for the second show.

I’d been feeling slightly insecure about the piece. I had no sense of perspective. I thought it too sentimental, cloying. I brought in C to watch, help, input, and that gave me the objectivity I needed. I then felt free to express, to let my emotions go beyond the boundaries of my focused and tiny world.

Because the botton line is, this piece is personal. For the first time, consciously, my art is reflecting my life. I did not set out to do it. Indeed, I wanted to explore the archetypes in Peter Pan. I wanted to have a wand and be a sort of Tinkerbell. What came out instead was a jogging, running, determined, together-yet-separate duet. Mostly close but with respective gazes off into the distance. Yes, this dance is about me and J.

At the top of our wedding programs we had a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It said something about love being not about gazing at each other, but about looking outward together in the same direction. This is a beautiful thought. And yet, in my experience, I can assuredly say that it is of vital importance to look a person in the eyes, right through to the heart. And to stay there, and protect that with your life.

I do believe in love. I clap my hands like the lost boys. I’m at present busy redefining it. I’m redefining happiness as I throw my priorities up in the air to see which lands where and in what order. I’d like to think that I can have it all, the big three: relationship, career, family. I clap my hands three times.

Throughout my piece I yell directives. Just one word, and the same one: “Go!”. During last night’s second show, I played with how I said it the third time, near the end. I was softer. There was a vulnerable yet quiet strength to how it came out. The last “Go” commands the curtain to fly open and for N and I to stop. We let go of hands, balanced on one leg each. Close together yet facing the same direction. Blackout.

On the next “lights up”, I want to feel equipped to put my other foot down, take a step toward another person, and look, really look. Here’s the thing though. I also need to feel free to turn sideways and stand on one leg if I want/need. Clap my hands, I want it all.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Chair Bones

I am learning a dance that makes me want to be a better dancer. I want to rise to the occasion if it.

Four of us are learning it: a solo, en pointe, and a sort of tour-de-force. The plan, as it stands, is that each of us will get a chance to perform it. Oh, I hope so. I surprise myself that I love it so. I am scared of it, but in the best possible way. Because it’s so enormous, there are many chances for redemption. I just need to know the steps, really know them. I know that I can get myself to that point, to the place where the brain exits the building so that the body and heart can take over.

It’s just that it’s so fast. Steps are coming at me before I’ve remembered what I forgot a second ago. And yet that’s part of the process, this one anyway.

Today we learned the end. The soft quality required then, after about ten minutes of really going at it, will be a sweet time. My feet will be numb I’m sure. Worth it.

It’s called “Chair Bones”, and I love it as I get to know it. New love. Good.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

These Two Hands are Enough

Turned 36, and continue to turn, to ripen. Life is rich and full. Too full sometimes as I tend to over-book. But as with all that is worthy, one must examine the perimeters, the extremes.

I am on the fence about the whole next part of this life. Where to go from here, in dance, in love? What is priority? What remains that needs shedding? What do I need to reclaim?

I get caught up in this quest(ion)ing, and then life throws me a simple surprise, like the serenade the other night by two hands and a guitar.

I wrestle with my free will, with my ability to absolutely do whatever I want. It is terrifying, like jumping off a cliff. I want, on the one hand, to shackle myself to any available surface, to cling tight, to shut my eyes against the oncoming ocean waves of salt. The other hand wants to be brave. A tiny, flickering part of me wants/needs to utterly let go, to fall, to fly, to reunite with the fearless (dancer) that is in here somewhere, to fail.

Two hands and a guitar. Perhaps that’s the closest metaphor to what I’m feeling. The right hand plucks and strums, is slightly longer-nailed out of necessity. The left is most beautiful in its seeking, knowing precision, hitting (almost) all the right notes, pressing strings against the neck. A gift. Two hands, expressively different, unique, yet aiming for the same lofty goal of sharing.

I try to let go even as I hang on, to strum and pluck even as I strike a chord and let it melt away with my eyes closed. It seems to be the way of it, this duality, these extremes existing simultaneously. I balance cling with release, safety with a razor-edge of danger and risk, my right hand with my left, the coordination of bravery. Some days it comes down to regaining comfort in my own skin. Others it’s about sitting in a doctor’s office and not melting down.

I renew my goal to be open to the potential of every moment. Openheartedness has served me well these past months, tempered with new boundaries (though these shape-shift daily). Life is certainly interesting. Maybe that’s the main thing: I am holding my own interest. And for now, until the next necessary regurgitation of words, I am enough.