Letters to DANCE.
Remember when you did not need a celebrity name in order to be invited to dance or to teach dance? Remember when you didn’t even need to know my name. Remember when dancing was not an invitation but a birth rite given to us by our biology as bodies. I have noticed these days your lustful attraction to ‘celebrity idolization’ as a means of bringing notoriety to your academic programs. I appreciate your appreciation of these artists who sit as queens and kings of their artistic kingdoms. But I’d like to remind you that ‘unknown’ artists are not peasants. Local artists without internationally recognized names are not lesser artists or educators. Our terrains may be localized and not as wide spread as ‘big name’ artists, but our work, our art, our contributions could be equally as potent and certainly deserving of a chance to thrive. You may not remember my name, you may have never uttered it but that is okay, my name is not what makes me an artist, it is my work. I am the work, not the name.
even though you do not know who I am, I am still in love with you,
How do you feel about how you are being represented in the world by those who teach about you? Do you feel properly represented in terms of your principles, philosophies and theories in academic dance and the artistic dance field? I was just wondering because I feel conflicted by how you’re represented. I actually worry you are being misrepresented in many ways, and on my most disheartened days I fear you are still being used as a system of colonization. I had a recent teaching experience at one of the local universities with a group of dance minors who described to me that although they have danced for most of their lives they have never experienced dancing as a practice of bodily freedom but rather as a ‘technique’ that measures their success through codified standards of western dance canons, Eurocentric body preference, showmanship, cosmetic beauty and flexibility. Is this really still happening? Are you really only valuable and visible if you are represented by kicks, tricks, pointed feet, thinness, flat spines, no butts, flat abs, thigh gaps, open legs, pretty people, elitists, snobs, white saviors, and privilege? Are we dancers or supermodels? Are we soul-bodied or are we cultural fashion? What are you to us? What have you become? I wonder, what do you want to be? I’m so curious to know how you might respond. I don’t have answers to share but I thought we should ask each other some questions because I am interested in what is happening with you as you appear to us on our screens, on the stage, in our schools and really, I want to reclaim my experience of you as the one that lives under my skin.
still in love with you,
I saw you today at my son’s school with his ‘crew’ of friends. You held them together as an interlinked interbodied organism coordinated together through movement. This showed up as they moved in and around each others bodies as they talked, moved closer to one person, while another person shifted to accommodate the reconfiguration, they did this all the way to our cars. They then dispersed wildly onto the sidewalk as we headed to ice cream. The directional trajectory was clear, focused, aimed and executed as a group. Their arrival into the store required decelerating their momentum and managing the energy they just generated. They managed this by walking through the aisles of the Rite-Aid together. The adults at the counter signaled organizing their bodies around ice cream selection. After we did this they headed to the sidewalk to enjoy their treats. As they licked up their melting ice cream you kept showing up. Again, as one person displaced space, another would shift, the group would readjust and like an amoeba they moved just slightly in a new direction. They did this until they had moved from one side of the building to the other. They didn’t ‘do’ this on purpose, but you did. I could see you there. I do have to say that my encounters with you outside the dance studios are quite a delight.
Can I be honest in saying that witnessing your forces at play out in the world are often more meaningful that watching you display yourself in costumes and wanna-be sexy dance moves.
thanks for being real, it was so good to see you with our son,