Let me first start by saying, there will eventually be a follow-up post to this one explaining all of the reasons why I love my background in studio dance…but until then, here’s this:
Sometimes I wish that I had skipped the sequins all together.
(Yes it made me who I am today…yes the relationships I made at the studio were incredible…yes I cried to my mom when I was 18 because I didn’t want to go to Michigan State…because I wanted to try out for SYTYCD and be a famous dancer, hip-shaking behind Britney Spears…blah blah blah….oh, and NO my experience was NOTHING like that embarrassing show…DANCE MOMS)
What I’m talking about here is the level of my cognition as a 23 year old performer in the university setting. This week alone, I’ve had about six corrections specifically given to me that were centered around my performance quality and bodily awareness; please note that I was given these corrections AFTER a general announcement had already been made to the class. I genuinely had no idea I was doing any of these things wrong, and I literally could not feel the mistakes I was making…I have no problem getting corrections, but when it’s something that I should be sensing from within, I can’t help but get a little frustrated with myself.
I’ve begun to wonder what has happened to my bodily insight? (Have I ever had this kind of reflective awareness?)
“If you get lower and wider you’ll find more weight, and you’ll move quicker with more momentum.”
Ummmm, I’m the queen of groundedness…why am I not already doing this??? Oh yeah, because I’m trying to look like everyone else. What up competition large group?!?!? Can I get a 5-6-7-8…!!!
“Your arms are hitting a shape right now; it’s not about the position it’s about the energy behind it.”
Apparently I vogue in modern class, I don’t really know.
Because of my days (I mean years) as a Cecchetti princes, it took me a good three months to release the tension in my upper body, specifically in my sternum. My strict ballet training has definitely provided a strong and technical foundation, but at the same time, I learned to preclude any real mobility in my upper body because I was so afraid of what kind of damage breathing might do to my placement.
And then there’s choreography, I mean composition…need I say more? Theme and variation, music visualization, chance-dance….it’s all Japanese to me. Sometimes I just want to pantomime and gesture to my favorite pop songs while having a general shimmy as my through line.
Within the last three’ish years, the ability to just explore the possibilities of movement is also a new concept for me. Prior to my university classes, whenever I would hear the word improv, I immediately thought about what combinations I already knew and how I could reconstruct them…I needed to make myself look like the platinum winning dancer I already knew I was.
One last pity-cry…
I would love to just “walk” like a person instead of looking like a dancer trying to walk like a person. What happened to my ability to just be a human? Why is it the minute that I enter a studio, walking heel-first becomes a paralyzing concept?
(I’m being dramatic, I know…but please be aware that a mass-Happy Meal extravaganza occurred in my apartment late last night…)
It’s one of those weeks here in New York…I’ll get off my soapbox in a minute…
While studio-dance was my first introduction to dance period, there are times (like this week) that I wonder how my movement preferences would be different if I had skipped the 13-year glitter-fest? Would I even have an affinity for glitter….(gasp!!)? Because so much time was devoted to the end product and how to make all 25 dancers look identical, the rehearsal process was consumed by superficial placement and little to no emphasis on the actual body. Movement efficiency didn’t actually exist, and as long as you got your triple pirouette in, it didn’t matter what kind of hip-flexion you actually achieved. While I still fight for my commercial roots today, sometimes the well-educated dancer with less codified technique ends up winning the race.
I challenge Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms to start coaching her 5-year old hot-mamas to sense their weight and to use their skeletal alignment rather than their major muscles to push through space.
(B-Fri, if you read this…don’t hate me. YOU are the reason I still plié today!)