I’m editing out almost everything I know about dancing:
I’m taking out the leaping and the twirling.
The ups that take you spinning out of the earth, and the dives that take you right back down.
The swoops and the bursting forth.
The rushes of velocity, speed, and momentum.
For now, at least, I’m editing it all out because these elements of dancing are not showing up for me at this moment in time.
These elements of dancing are no longer urgent.
There’s a bit of a loss around this.
A bit of confusion.
A bit of questioning and concern about where it has all gone.
At the same time, there is a hunger for dancing that I have never felt before.
For the first time, I can’t wait to get into a quiet space by myself, and begin to work.
I’ve never been able to do that.
In all my years of dancing, I’ve never been able to be alone in a dance space and to use that time to dance, fully.
Remember Jennifer Beale, alone in her warehouse apartment, dancing and sweating and flinging her body through space?
I sooooo wanted to know how to do that!
I’ve always had to have someone there in the room with me, to play off of and converse with or I fall into an existential despair that leaves me empty, angsty, and wandering for days.
Something has changed in me recently though, and now, for the first time in my life, I look forward to dancing for multiple hours on my own.
I’m hungry to be alone in a dance space, and to dance.
My dancing is slow and detailed and rooted.
It is filled with stillness.
And because of that, I feel like my body is pushing up against a tidal wave of sound and speed.
I feel like my body is pushing up against everything I know about dancing.
I feel like my body is pushing up against everything I know about myself.
Because I know myself to be big and loud - weird - outlandish and absurd.
I know how to put that part of myself out into the world as a performer and dancer.
But this stillness?
This slow descent of weight that pulls me into the center of the earth?
This never ending and unhurried spiral — that I get caught up in for for hours at a time —while the rest of the world gets stuff done?
That’s a part of me that I always knew existed too, but I pretended that it didn’t.
I was a little embarrassed by it, a little ashamed, so I kept it hidden most of the time.
And now….now I can’t stop.
I can’t stop this slow descent of weight, this spiral, this snake.
I’m 46 years old, and I think I might be at the very beginning of finding my voice as a dancer, choreographer, improviser, and performer.
And this voice I’m finding is editing out everything I know about dancing.
What’s left is…..
I don’t know yet.
I don’t know.
I don’t know anything at all.
All I know is how to find my way to the floor.
All I know is how to notice my breath.
All I know is how to wait and see what emerges.
I will wait for as long as it takes.
And when this steady drop of weight pulls me in…when this intricate and perplexing spiral tugs at me from the inside…when I feel the snake moving through me….only then will I let myself begin.
Your Dance Mission for the Week is to wait.
Give yourself 7 minutes (can you give yourself 7 minutes right now so you don’t forget?), and find a comfortable place, either lying on the floor, sitting in a chair, leaning against a wall, walking in circle in your living room.
Notice your breath.
Notice your body making contact with, and pressing into the earth.
Notice your body making contact with, and carving into the air.
Imagine your tongue is thick and wide.
Imagine your eyes are heavy in your eye sockets.
For 7 minutes.
Notice what happens.
Is there movement?
Is there stillness?
Is your state of being shifting, transforming, or staying the same?
Let me know what happens for you.
And feel free to share this newsletter with anyone you think might enjoy it.
With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,
Joanna and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistently upending