November 20, 2013

Finding Inspiration Through Dance

What a pleasure.

This past Saturday night, I attended a modern dance performance by Dance Ethos in which my friend Althea Skinner (seen here) was performing.  Every time I see a dance performance outside the genre that I participate most actively in (bellydance), I am reminded of the countless dance performances that my parents took me to see as a kid, of the thousands of hours of rehearsal and classes that I have participated in over the years, and how much I appreciate this education and practice.  Dance, no matter the genre, is a language that I speak.  I understand it, I feel connected to humankind and to my core self when I am engaged with it, either as a dancer or an audience member.  I am inspired creatively by others' expression of movement or choreography.  And I tend to become overwhelmed emotionally by these experiences, eliciting tears that underscore the magnitude of personal gratitude, and motivation I feel.  Despite however pressured I may feel for a sense of balance in my life ("Just say 'No' to more work and activities!"), watching a dance performance inspires me to reach deep in my own dance to manifest the creative ideas I have, including making a difference in the environmental realm through dance ("Don't stop now! You can do more!").  Sometimes I get scared that I will lose the ability to speak this language, or that I will stop making sense in this language, the same way I have forgotten much of my veterinary training since leaving vet school.  I want to be taken seriously, and seeing the result of dancers working very hard to accomplish the performance I'm watching motivates me to take my own dance practice very seriously, and to devote more time and effort to it. I don't necessarily need more motivation, but the fact that it's available for the taking is luxurious and makes me feel like I'm living life fully.

Because I missed Althea's solo piece in the Saturday show, I took the opportunity to see it performed at the Harman Center for the Arts during today's Happenings, their weekly free lunchtime show.  Talk about being overwhelmed.  Not only was I watching some really beautiful dance (sight/kinesthetic sense), to some really beautiful music (sound), for free (important to my measly Fellowship income), near work (exercise/biking midday, yay!), but I was also eating simultaneously (autumn-fresh roasted butternut squash with carraway seeds and nuts from the farmer's market--a yummy taste and smell-explosion).  My senses were attended to. I was so grateful for that moment.  *cue tears*.

The performance today included several pieces from Saturday's show, as well as a couple from an earlier show that I had seen this summer.  I really enjoy the work that Dance Ethos supports and creates.  The fabric in Tiffany Haughn's "The Lines We Draw" reminded me of all the possibilities that exist for each of us.  Possibility can support and carry us, or it can hold us back and cause tension.  Even if we are aware of these issues--they are transparent--that doesn't mean that navigating them is any easier. We struggle or glide through, past, with, in spite of, or linked to possibilities.   Althea's piece (choreographed by Vladimir Angelov) was stirring, dynamic, beautiful, thoughtful, curious, and expertly executed. I was struck in her piece and a few others at the use of explosive movement followed by stillness or slow movement.  It's a technique that I use less emphatically in my own dance, and it reminded me to go whole hog in that direction.

I had to leave early to get back to work, but my lunchtime inspiration infusion will last for quite some time.