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.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Elephant in the Room

Haven’t written in eons. Summer slipped into me like a foot into a comfortable shoe, and I’ve been down with that since our dancing season ended. Yet to justify my existence, here’s what I’ve been up to:

-Performed for Deborah Jinza Thayer’s Movement Architecture at Gallery 13 in NE Minneapolis
-Completed and shepherded to the stage my portion of “Strange Attractor” (a combined effort with Wynn Fricke) for Springboard, the performing group of the Dance Institute of MN Dance Theatre
-Went to Duluth to create a new dance on the advanced students of MN Ballet
- Helped rehearse and tech “Brahms Duet”, Sally’s affecting dance with Mariusz for Strictly Ballroom’s fundraiser at the Southern
-Took a Master Class with Italian choreographer Emio Greco at The Walker. Came away with the title for my Fringe show
-Picked up fellow JSB dancer from double knee surgery. It was an honor to be privy to post-surgery stupor, gradual lucidity, extreme pain, and funny stoicism
-Had in-grown toenail “minor surgery”
-Went to Duluth to see my new piece performed. So amazing to leave it as a rough sketch and return to watch it sparkling onstage. Hiked 5.2 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail (in my new trail running shoes!)
-Accepted job offer to choreograph and assistant direct an original musical, “Songs From The Tall Grass”, to open in Fergus Falls and modestly tour
-Met new nephew. He gazed at me with clear eyes at only 30 hours old
-Traveled to Charleston, SC to visit my mom and other family. Attended three Spoleto performances, including Batsheva Dance Company
-Substitute taught a number of classes at a wonderful dance school “in the burbs”

And all the while:

-Took Pilates, yoga, the occassional ballet class
-Finished up my weekly Tuesday evening teaching gig (Pillar, Linda and Monica are high school, rockstar, actual people, not just bunheads)
-Contemplated, conceived and began Fringe piece, “We’ll Survive If We Don’t Protect Ourselves” (secured venue and dates, hired dancers, researched music, made flier…)
-Saw 15 performances of dance and theater, one movie on the big screen, and numerous rented, libraried, and netflixed films (moslty old)

The elephant in the room:

-There’s a new significant other in my life

So all this stuff has been shared, supported. At the end of most days, either in person or on the phone, I’ve intermingled the adventures of my life with that of another. Mutual support through sustained, ongoing, never-ending conversations. As I’ve continued to healthily let go of J, to hang on to the good stuff and shed the unnecessary, not helpful stuff, I continue to uncover my pagoda.

(One of the national leaders of the lay organization affiliated with my Buddhist practice talks about the initial necessity of a scaffolding surrounding her pagoda: her best self. The scaffolding represents her responses to fears, “negative” tendencies, things she actually has needed to get through the burden of life. A scaffolding allows us to make a thing better, stronger, more lasting. But there comes a time when the scaffolding, in place for so long, starts to get in the way. It shrouds our true selves, our pagodas, and hinders our progress as humans. And so a shedding must occur. In my case, it’s a gradual process. One aspect that feels important is that I’ve allowed others to help me. And instead of feeling weakened by this, I feel fortified, strengthened. Not to say that my pagoda is perfect or finished. It’s simply out in the open now, enjoying the sun.)

Through this process of re-entering significant-otherness, I put into practice all that I’ve learned. All my painful experiences (and wonderful ones) add up to me being able to approach another person better.

I slide my newly exposed pagoda-self into this new relationship like summer slipped into me. I contemplate this new significant other in my life and wonder at all the possibility. Sweet drips down my chin like from a fresh strawberry, yet I risk getting seeds in my teeth and juice on my white shirt. But the important thing is that I risk. Again. My risking is hard-earned. There’s a new openheartedness, and life’s ripe with the possibility of it making a difference.