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.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

O'er the Ramparts

Yesterday was July 4th. I had a late-night gathering at my place to watch the fireworks. My balcony hosts the most perfect view. Like a television screen, the sky/skyline layed itself out before our group. We counted the seconds between seeing a blast and hearing it. I counted myself lucky.

One year ago I moved into my apartment. On the 4th I had rehearsal, then went to the beach. In the evening, however, I had no plans, and so surrounded by boxes, I proceeded to unpack.

In the midst of setting up my new life, the fireworks began. I went out onto my balcony and discovered this most perfect view. I watched in awe, a tiny lump in my throat. Here was a city-wide Declaration of my Independence. My night was meant to be spent alone, to settle a contract with myself, setting myself free.

Last night I marveled at all the change. Watching from the exact same spot as last year, this time I shared it with friends, old and new. It was a grounded gathering, despite the 3rd floor location and the rush to get home to welcome folks.

The lump in my throat returned. Fireworks do that to me anyway, but this time it was for all kinds of reasons. My mind scanned past July 4th celebrations. Mostly I conjured ones from when I was in high school; lots of memories from being away at dance camps. (Maybe because I just re-watched “Dirty Dancing”.)

During my summers in NYC there was always an adventure. We always got the day off from dancing. The first year my mom and I hooked up with other misplaced Ohioans in the big city. (One girlfriend went to SAB while I went to Joffrey.) I think we watched fireworks from the roof of our ladies residence.

My second NY summer I spent the 4th with my boyfriend from home (again, he was at SAB while I returned to Joffrey) and another dancing friend who came to visit for the occasion. We sprawled out in Central Park before I knew the lay of that land. I think we caught some fireworks. I mostly remember being sort of sad. I had fallen in love with my partner at Joffrey and didn’t know how to negotiate that at 16. Dance and love became a jumbled, incompatible mix.

The next year I’m pretty sure I spent the 4th on Long Island with the aforementioned Joffrey partner. That summer I questioned everything dance related. It was the beginning of a year-long seeking, certainly the darkest period of my life up to then. I became an other-self. I stopped taking class. My body drastically changed. It was like I forgot how to dance. I lost sight of my worth in relation to dance and probably in general. But I’m convinced that my relationship to my form would not be as solid as it is today if I had not undergone the trials of that year. I still may skip class or rant against pointe shoes, but I can do these things because my commitment to dance is solid. Dance and I are mates for life.

Funny to recall that dark year. Reminds me of the one I just had: divorcing, moving, contemplating relocating, and falling in love. And like that other one, this past year has solidified my commitment to myself and my happiness. I am truly strong, bending with the winds of change, but never breaking. My new relationship is healthy as can be. I used this year of trauma and change to put these things into effect, to lower the ramparts that I built between dance and love.

I am seeing now instead of constantly searching, an acute distinction. I feel no qualms about loving and dancing. I can contain all the disparate parts and output things worthy, artful and valuable.

Watching the fireworks last night, memories flooded. A strong and gentle hand caressed my back, and I felt peace in my newly-coupled independence.