Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Age & Dance - Revisiting Old Thoughts

It's been about 5 years since I wrote THE AGE OF STORYTELLING for the Hip Circle.  A LOT has happened in that relatively short period of time, especially in my dancing - particularly performances and how I approach them, and consider the end result - but as well in my larger life as well - another cross-country move, then a move back to New England, another nationwide tour, and design positions.  And as I work my way towards the mid-30's, I wondered if my perspective on what I wrote has changed much.

In short: no - I still sincerely believe that every woman has something to say through her dancing. But what I would add is that what we say changes.  And how you say it will change as well if you continue to grow in your dance (taking classes, workshops, trying new things, re-discovering basics). 

I would say that my dancing still maintains a dark edge that is naturally part of my aesthetic and personality, but it permeates my work in new ways. Looking back at the pieces of my 20's (from early 20's through to late 20's), it was a lot more confrontational, a lot more angry and hard-edged in a "in-your-face" sort of way. I created pieces dedicated to Kali Ma and the Rusalka, explored gender roles and my frustrations with the dance community. I played with the Noir/20's aesthetic, but kept running back to more Industrial/Cyber kind of Gothic themes, feeling that there was more power there.  There were a lot of good ideas, but at that point in time, my brain was far ahead of my dancing - meaning the concept was there, but I wasn't fully capable of physically executing the pieces consistently. There were points of breakthrough, but not every time - and I was moving too fast through everything (physically, mentally, spiritually).  Few people realize that I had only started dancing in 2000, so when the Gothic Bellydance DVDs came out, I had only been doing dance for 5-6 years - so a lot of things happened at/to me very fast in a short amount of time.  And I think that reflected in my dancing, for better and for worse, and in my relationships with others.

Midway through 2007, my husband and I (and The Mischief) moved back to the East Coast, and while I don't think things magically changed overnight, it was this move that started a new direction in my dancing, which started to emerge the following year on stage.  I started teaching weekly classes (never was the logical thing to do in the overcrowded Bay Area), and while I had always loved teaching, my skills and understanding grew even more - and I focused more on instruction than creating new performances.  And the pace of everything just seemed to slow down as my focus shifted.  I re-visited old performance sets and found new life in them.  I began to create a smaller amount of new performances, and worked with them longer, more intimately, allowing myself time to fully explore them, rather than worrying about presenting something new to "keep up."  And most importantly, my body caught up with my brain. 

As we end the near of 2010, I feel like I have journeyed far more in the last 3 years than I did in the first 8.  I grew into my own technique and claimed it more wholly, with my entire being.  I developed a new perspective on dance, and with that forged new relationships with dancers - both as a mentor and being mentored.  My dance has become more about satisfying my own muses than worrying about what others may think/perceive, and I want to share that focus with others.

So you could say sure, this is all related to growing older, but I don't think it's so much about physical age, as it is about learning to slow down, to shed what's not needed, and give time where it's most important - instead of racing to what's next.  "Next" will arrive when it's good and ready - or at least, when I am.   

(I also recommend checking out Artemis Mourat's article on the Gilded Serpent "Journey Into Womanhood" if you would like to read more about this subject - Artemis is a fabulous dancer, teacher, and friend who I admire greatly. )

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