The first of a series called, “Where I’m @” in which I discuss my personal headspace and current focuses.
It is probably of no shock to anyone at this point that I came from an almost exclusively ballet background. I have always appreciated what that’s done for me and of course always will, but every day I genuinely discover a new way that it’s also done me a disservice. The ways that it’s principles and practices have manifested in me do not stop at my physical habits or tendencies—they have surreptitiously crept into my daily existence and the way I conduct my relationships with both others and myself.
The master class/talk/performance that Katie Vickers gave served as a huge refocusing point, and I feel very lucky that it occurred so early on in the semester. Since then, one of my focuses has been incorporating more self-trust and I’m finding the ways in which that applies more and more every day. Something Bebe Miller said recently also has been resonating along this thread: “If you’re unsure, let curiosity guide you.” Sometimes that’s committal to a physical movement, sometimes it’s commitment to a choice. Which leads me to my next point: making choices.
The slew of options one has in ballet is relatively limited at any given time, in the grand scheme of things (although I’m sure 4 years ago I would have fought “present Me” on that.) Even the majority of the work I was doing in New York left very little room for interpretation. To be totally honest, until recently I never really felt myself even making choices. I guess I figured I was, but just wasn’t aware of it. Turns out I really literally wasn’t. But one way of approaching choice (in dynamic specifically) that I am trying to implement as often as I can was inspired by a comment Bebe made a couple of weeks ago. She made the point that as much as we love to dance, and as good as it feels, we must make decisions about when to “relish” in the physicality and when to let it serve it’s purpose as “functional.” That was a huge realization for someone who is just now (after 3.5 years) getting over the joy allowed in contemporary as opposed to classical movement. Speaking of how things feel…
In that same class, we were lying on the floor, focusing on the sensation of our feet on the ground. I went to do some sort of roll and recovery, and during the latter I felt (as she asked) what it was like to extend my foot out and use that as an initiating point. I did—and then I realized that I only knew what it felt like in relation to what it looked like. I felt my foot but the only way I could register the sensation was “not sickled.” It was shockingly hard for me to categorize the feeling without it being in relation to the aesthetic of it. This is by far my biggest focus and concern right now. I’ve created a keen awareness of my body and the things it can do, but from the outside in. If I continue to employ this outward-based approach, it’s only going to harbor mistrust between myself and my own body. Which leads me to my final thought, my current daily mantra: get in it.
It’s hard to explain what I exactly mean by this, but so far I’ve found it to be all-encompassing of the things I’m working on improving. Get inside in my body, get in the movement, get in the theory, get in the thought, get in the community, get in the whirlwind, get in it.