The familiar blend of cigarettes and toe pads swirls in the air, thick around my face and I avoid breathing too deeply. My sweating hands give a sticky rub down the back of my tights and a smear of barre rust trails like warpaint. Careful to use the back of my hand in hopes that less germs have accumulated there, I nudge the baby hairs from my face, allying them with the rainbow of blondes whose ends twist back into a pin-empaled donut at the nape of my neck. I notice my feet climbing up onto pointe and back down, left, right, left, right, my hips shifting more dramatically than I’d like. But it doesn’t matter. No one is looking my way, and even if they were, no one would care. In the studio we have complete physical freedom to explore and abuse as we please, no questions asked. Here we are not at home, we are somewhere far more comfortable.
There’s a show tonight so the lights are switched off, save the bright booms hugging the edge of all but that illustrious fourth wall, and I’m playing with my shadows now, watching them follow me left, right, left, right, left. It’s a game my mind doesn’t need to play; My bones have a body to themselves this time. I vaguely muse to myself, sometimes it’s nice to turn that brain off, isn’t it? and my rhythm slows down. It’s time to start the run, and I need to move. Like a dog who tipped the trashcan, I slink one huge step into the temporary wings and plop down without warning my legs of my decision. It takes a conscious effort to reconnect that neural/physical volley, I am reminded by the spawn of a new bruise on the outside of my knee. I watch in the darkness as blue plumes flood toward the surface, like a drop of ink spiraling into a glass of milky water. Another for my collection, I think to myself.
Before I have the required attention to realize it, we are running Viktor Plotnikov’s Surrogate, and in fact we are more than halfway through. I’m leaning on my right hip, legs bent in towards my chest, my upper body reaching out into the audience. My head is suspended, right cheek in Alex’s broad palm from above, and he’s sweeping it back and forth, weightlessly. My eyes have been closed for twelve slow counts, and I can feel the ground dropping away from me as I float in this moment. For the remainder of the piece, my eyes are at half-mast, and I roll with the gliding motions my feet seem to prefer today. It was a strangely sleepy-but-not-tired run, but it doesn’t matter. Because I am in my more-comfortable-than-home.
photo from Viktor Plotnikov’s Surrender, shot by Cemal Ekin.