Dancing in Community

Dancing in Community

Why do I dance?

I have always danced.  An early childhood memory was of me throwing my little body in waves of spastic movements coordinated with sounds of outraged own language verbiage.  I didn’t know it then, but such were the humble beginnings of using movement to express thoughts and feelings which I couldn’t put into words.  When I felt joy, I skipped and twirled, turning my face towards the sky to feel the sun on my skin.  When I was angry, I pounded the floors with my feet, pumping my arms in furious energy until I was panting and red-faced.  When I felt sadness, I slid across the cold tile floors in the house, grasping the emptiness with outstretched fingers.  As I got older, I learned to sit quietly; to fit within the social norms of being “ladylike.”  Yet in my mind’s eye, I danced, even though I was as still as a statue.

I fought to dance.  Whether it was volunteering for student productions in school or moving to favorite songs in the privacy my room….I never let a day pass without dancing in some form or another.  I had no formal dance training, but I threw myself wholeheartedly into any situation that would allow me to dance.  As the years passed, I put aside my wish for a professional dance career and conformed to expectations dictated by circumstances.  However, I stubbornly held onto the hope that someday, somehow, I will live my life in dance.

At the age of 35, I finally found myself in my first ballet technique class.  What a thrill it was to be in an actual dance class, even though I was the oldest one there and was starting from zero.  I wanted to learn and try everything.  Dance classes became a vital part of my weekly schedule. Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Social Dance, Hula, Taiko….I tried them all.  I also became Company Manager of a dance studio, learning the intricacies of running a nonprofit dance organization.  I danced, performed, worked with my colleagues on producing student and professional showcases for the community.   Through it all, I wondered where this path would lead me.  All I knew was that I had to trust the dance to lead me.

Soon, I found myself embarking upon an incredible dance journey, supported with love by an amazing community of dancers of all ages and abilities. Through my practice in Mettler-based creative dance and group improvisation, combined with my past experiences and training in a variety of dance modalities, I experience the wonders of dance and its power to communicate, to connect, to express.  Dance improvisation, the creation of dance while dancing, captures unique moments in time that tells distinct, deeply felt stories….of that moment.  When the dance is over, we let go of what was created….releasing it without the need to hold onto it.   The next time we dance, we create something totally new, and in turn, we become new beings.

I never know where a dance will take me.  It is an exploration and a discovery which becomes particularly powerful when practiced in a group, where an exchange happens naturally.  This exchange starts tentatively, as members of a group are unsure about where he/she fits in within the dance.  We circle each other, we find ways to reach out to each other, we figure out how we as individual dancers can contribute to the whole.  We take the time to settle into the dance, with ourselves and with each other.  What begins as random dancers moving through space becomes a dance that tells a group story.

Each of us is a unique entity, but we do not live in a vacuum.  We live in a fractured world, where people’s differences are magnified, categorized, marginalized.  I am on a quest to find our commonalities…to find our language of being human together.  When a group of people dance together, something interesting always happens.  Surprising outcomes…a spark of inspiration that leads to a next dance…a sudden realization that we’re not alone…..a glimpse into another person’s life…..or simply the acceptance that it is perfectly okay to enjoy the moment of joyful movement with another human being.

I embrace the possibilities and challenges of changing perceptions through my dance work.  I dance because everyone has something to share, to say, to express and together we weave our separate stories into a dance tapestry that takes us away from society-made labels.  This tapestry is never completed….it is always being woven, always changing, always evolving.  I hope you will join me as we dance in community.