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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.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Near Miss

(In reference to Sunday January 21, 2007)

I am alone onstage, behind the curtain. The call is seven minutes before the top of the show. “Chair Bones” is first, and I am dancing it today. I am costumed, shod, feeling thin (enough) and on my leg. Today I can almost feel my center.

I stand en pointe behind the chair, holding it for support, testing my balance in soussus. S wanders onstage asking if I need anything. Just to drill a few steps, the ones I’m still uncertain about or that require a practice run. Already this morning I have marked through the dance in my apartment so as to gain total comfort with the music. The music, above all, is how I’ve hooked in to this piece. I want to know exactly where I am in it so that I can be free to make intelligent, informed phrasing choices.

The company gathers for circle onstage, our pre-show ritual. S reads a poem, leaving me blessed and with permission to be ugly. Holding hands, we encircle the chair, close our eyes, and hook into the collective that is JSB. The last show of our run, we are tired and warm.

I think about how I felt just over a week ago as I set out to perform this piece for the first time in California. Then I was slightly underwater, wading. Today I am walking on water; I am ready.

The dance begins and I am in control. I am at once engaged and detached. I am grounded and I am above, looking down on myself, my choices, and on what happens as a result of momentum and gravity.

The company watches from the wings. They surround and buoyantly support. I have strength and stamina. My shoes are hanging in there, softly supportive too. I remember all the steps. I successfully negotiate and manipulate the chair.

Today’s small audience is somewhat disappointing, but I remember that it is ultimately not for them. This whole shebang that is dance in my life is for me, my gift to myself. I love sharing it with others, but really it is mine. And that’s what makes it so hard. Because on days when I can’t or don’t “get it up” no one really cares. Sometimes no one even knows, but I do, and at the end of the day, I remember.

I leave “Chair Bones” now. The final two performances of it on tour will be danced by B and E, respectively magnificent, coming into their own and in their own ways. I’m sure the music will continue to play in my head.

I miss. I have relief. I hum. I do and I don’t want to see the DVD of my performance. Until I do I replay the film in my head: reliving, reviving, retreiving, recovering. It is still near enough to touch.


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