For the second half of my Spring layoff, a very special trip to New York City… Continue reading
I have bruises on my body, but spring in my soul, following this warm weekend up north with my favorite human. M and I brunched and browsed all over Boston, and the sun stayed with us far longer than we’d even hoped. From Brighton to Brookline to Chinatown, Beacon Hill, Cambridge and back again, we made our way through boro(ugh)s and backstreets until our tired, unscented brains* could explore no more. We visited some of our very favorites, including Tatte and The Middle Gray, where I scribbled this little ditty into my journal, which I’m going to call Ode to An Arepa…
black and white
and grey all over
meets end and
bloom and bend
our bodies defend
fight the careful blend
my dearest friend
you challenge my senses
so I guess the contents
in your favorite hot sauce trend.
*Have you ever googled “What does a human brain smell like?” Not recommended.
in a whirl of tulle
and white lights
rosin’d pointes rock away
sticky grid lock
in their place
parties move on
from Silberhaus to
a growing tree stacks its dust
where festive bulbs
flower petals brown
in dark skips where
whispering of stale sweets
gauzy ghosts of dancers
now wisp in
flooding the empty theater
with a harrowed
final bits of chalky snow
flake away and off
a calendar completely cracked
it must be time to turn
creepy poetry by a sleepy me, photos of FBP dancers by the talented Jacob Hoover.
for more from Mr. Hoover and his ultra cool camera, head on over here.
Recently, my days have been a bit freer than I’d like them.
Our first program is beautiful, but small, and my roles rather brief. Though productive to a fault and never one to complain about free time (hello, homework!), I’ve been fighting to keep this light rehearsal schedule from affecting me emotionally. I don’t like to admit it, but my relatively dance-less days have been getting me down.
Fortunately, as if sent by the gods of interweb revelations, this blog post made its way to my browser in the peak of last week’s pity party. One paragraph and a few sips of chamomile later, something remarkable had happened; Through the shared struggle of someone a thousand miles away, my spirits were lifted. I felt a strong connection to a dancer whom I’ve never actually met (thanks for that, technology) and the emotional slump we were experiencing together, but apart, suddenly seemed a whole lot more manageable. Mahallia’s grace, in both words and dancing, reminded me just how strongly the prosperity of my mental health relies on expression through physical movement. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in ballet’s brain game that I forget to simply enjoy the inherent therapy in motion.
I found the above quote taped into my new locker at the start of this season. An excerpt from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet left behind by an over-thinking dancer of the past, these ten lines felt wholly uniting. They seem to be speaking directly to us- those who move to live, those completed by their career, those who find themselves making a living which makes them right back.
If ever you catch yourself toiling in the unsolved answers, I invite you to stop. Stop looking ahead. Stop searching for solutions. So curiosity may drive an exciting ambition, but why not experiment with that potent thirst? Direct it towards the questions themselves, and dedicate some time to examining what it is you’re asking. Relish in the observance of negative space, of blank pages, and empty hours. Experience the unraveling. Live the questions.
End rant. Happy Monday!
first photo by Michael Collins.
Two days ago, when it was May but the weather wailed JULY!, I sat under the wisteria-covered trellis on the airy patio of my beloved Seven Stars Bakery with a cold drink (iced green tea, splash of lemonade) and The Emma Press Anthology of Dance. Much like its internal observations of the waltzing world around us, the book itself seems to rattle and shake, pages exploding with figures (by the book’s editor herself, Ms. Emma Wright) whose loosely sketched limbs flutter from one line to the next.
We are introduced first, and again throughout, to the universality of dance through the eyes of animals, the flailing bodies of the uncoordinated, the intoxicated, the lush from love who swagger in kitchens and on side streets. Clare Dyer’s On The Sand describes the dancing of a buzzing beach, and suddenly I am noticing the gentle whirling of the wisteria above me and the erratic foxtrot of the tiny finches underfoot.
The tone shifts now from chirpy humor to one I know a bit more intimately. With Hilary Gilmore’s Ballerina of The Night Pool, we meet the mysteriously elegant “statue drowned mid-pirouette”, constantly evading the authors shy advances to “dance pas de deux with her reflections”, as minxy stone ballerinas often do. Rachel Piercey’s The corps is a musing even more familiar, singing the secret successes of the corps de ballet, “parabola arms exactly / chalked onto the air”, “half known and half felt: / the precise, unfurling / geometry of cells.” The flawless harmony of a well-oiled corps, despite each dancer’s yearning for spotlight, our final stanza puts it perfectly: “the acute longing / to be set apart, / the charm of belonging.” A double-edged sword that every ballet dancer will wield in the onset of their careers.
As the anthology progresses, so too does the strangely relatable introspectivity of each poem. From finding your own footing in Rosie Sandler’s Breathing Underwater, to escaping by means of dancing down the page of a notebook in Catherine Smith’s My Dancers, to the impossible stashing of a step like “the stapling of motion on a sheet” (what a great line!) found in Richard O’Brien’s Dansmuseet, the apex of this anthology is an explorative one. We discover the fleeting nature of dance, the joy in hearing dance when it is not able to be seen, and perhaps the most poignant point of all:
“We dance to learn about a part of ourselves books can’t teach.”
The Emma Press Anthology of Dance C/O The Emma Press.