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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 12, 2007

Red Envelope

Last night I saw a film that inspired me.

(First off, let me reveal, confess, proclaim, that I love my Netflix membership. For $9.99 a month, I get one film at a time with no limit per month. I’d been avoiding falling into this craze, sure in the knowledge that I would become addicted. Indeed, I have. I love the emails announcing that another DVD is on the way. I love receiving what feels like a present in the mail at the end of a long and hard day. I love the ingenious red envelopes marked with No Postage Necessary. But mostly I love adding to my queue. Finally, after years of not quite “getting it” regarding the internet and it’s appeal, I’m hooked. I type in “Cary Grant”, and up pop all his films. I click to read the synopsis of one and deeper I go, onto another page and a Netflix-best-guess of films I’d like because I inquired about X. Deeper and deeper I navigate, hitting the ADD button discriminately and with relish. I review my queue, my last move before clicking out for the night. I go to bed with a rush like I’ve been shopping.)

Last night’s film was “I’ll Be Seeing You” with Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotton. There was also a star turn by a teenage Shirley Temple, and here’s why I’m inspired: before me were two incredible dancers, Ginger and Shirley, performing at top form in a straight drama, not dancing. I love the idea that they did not need to use every ounce of what they were capable of as performers. They ably and convincingly played their respective parts with fullness. Nothing was missing or lacking. They were complete, even though not dancing, and maybe even because of it.

This is a tough concept for those of us who know little else. When a person falls into their life’s work at about the age of seven, it’s pretty unavoidable not to tie up a part of one’s identity in that thing. It’s a challenge to untangle the person from the talent, and yet it’s important. Inasmuch as I strive to integrate all the ways that I am with the things that I love and am good at, into one, sinuous thing, it is also vital that I understand my inherent worth without an ounce of ability in anything. I think the important thing, the Prime Directive, is that I am compelled.

And so I was impressed by Ginger and Shirly; I am pleasantly inspired. It’s important, especially at a moment like this when I’m on a plane to California to perform a solo I’m not quite ready for. Nevertheless, it’s happening, and tomorrow night. Seeing last night’s film aided my process of exiting my funk of yesterday, the height of my dancing insecurity re: this solo. Witnessing their superb acting jogged my memory about my own worth and capabilities independent of my almost-daily practice of dance.

No Dancing Necessary, it’s simply inherent, printed on my front, marking me deliverable for tomorrow night. I click ADD on this dance in an already long queue of ones performed a tad prematurely. These dances inevitably and always come together, teaching me something while tapping into a superhero part of myself.

Dance is what I do. It is largely responsible for who I’ve become. But I can and do exist without it; I am just compelled not to.


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