It’s her.Knocking away. at 3 AM in the morning.
Creeping into my bed and whispering:
“You should have stuck with your idea of becoming a middle school gym teacher. Then you could wear a jogging suit everyday. The kind with the stripes and the shiny pants. AND you would get your very own whistle.”
I roll over, trying to get back to sleep, and think of myself as a gymnast, on the uneven bars, winning a gold medal at the Olympics.
As I am drifting off to sleep, just as I dismount, “stick it” on the mat, and get a 10 from the judges, she taps my shoulder again.
This time I am sitting straight up in bed with a headlamp and my notebook.
I am writing down everything she is showing me: Vacuuming grass in red high heeled shoes. Meditating on a large, raw, slab of t-bone steak. Pouring skittles over my head. Duct taping food to a dining room table. Dancing in a room piled high with dirt. Dancing in a river with two red chairs. Dancing on a car in white dresses and silver high heels. Sliding down a plexiglass wall in a prom dress. Running as fast as I can singing “I Feel Pretty.” Wearing a cat costume that is soaking wet.
The next day I am rehearsing for a show.
This entails a lot of lying down, some slow rolling, focused breathing, and thinking about my grocery list.
There is some imagining of what color gym outfit I am going to wear when I quit making dances and am teaching wiffle ball instead.
At some point I find myself colliding these early morning images. This one on top of that one with that one underneath. Over there, that one will rest in the corner and then hurl itself through space RIGHT NOW.
A murky collage starts to form. I make a quick little choreography that sends this image into the next image. I start fiddling with music. I take some notes. I begin to sing. To roll. To crawl. To tiptoe. To jerk my elbows this way and then that way. I bite the air. I hop and fall. Hop and fall. Hop and fall. I jot down some notes and make a choreography that expands the images from my early morning muse, and then shrinks it down to a miniature version of itself.
I lie down again.
I begin to imagine how the dance will begin. And how it will end.
I don’t know why she insists on visiting me at 3am in the morning. I wouldn't mind a visit at say, 1pm, 8pm, or even 10pm.
But 3 A.M????
I guess thats how she rolls. She doesn’t show up for months, even years sometimes and just as I am about to say enough, I have nothing. Nada. Zilch. I am done. No more dancing for me She goes, “Hmmmm…really??? Are you sure? Because I just met this guy who sells meat right off of the cow and you can get it directly from him and I just think you should give it one more shot and then make up your mind. And look, there are 3 dollar prom dresses at Savers right now, so just try it. You’ll like it. I promise. You’ll like it.”
So I put away my jogging suit and whistle. I put away my new sneakers I was going to wear the first day of school. I put away my wiffle ball and my wiffle bat, and instead I get my notebook and my headlamp all set up next to my bed.
I fall asleep, secretly hoping she’ll knock on my door tonight.
Your dance mission for the week is to get your notebook and your headlamp out and to write down what arises that makes you go “WHAAAAAAAAAT?????” I was with a friend yesterday, and by accident, she said “What is your animal” instead of “What is your email.” And I said, “WRITE THAT DOWN. That was weird and strange and beautiful. And it might be the start, or the middle, or the end of your next dance/poem/song/puppet show. It might not be. But it might be. So write it down.” Right after you finish reading this email, I want you to start to make a list of those weird little moments that make you turn your head, catch your breath, and sit up straighter. This might happen when you hear something on the radio, it might happen when you see something in nature, it might happen when you are in a formal or not so formal dance experience, it might happen when you are having a conversation with a friend.
Write it down and make a list of these moments.
These are the moments that can get you started on a very singular and astonishing journey to making a dance, a poem, a song, a puppet show, a diorama.
(I am about to switch to all caps AND bold now because this is important):
I WANT YOU TO SEND ME YOUR LIST ON MONDAY NIGHT. ON WEDNESDAY I AM GOING TO SEND YOU BACK THE NEXT STEP. I CAN’T SEND YOU THE NEXT STEP IF I DON’T GET YOUR LIST. SO SEND ME YOUR LIST. You can send your list directly to this email, or if you want to share what you have written, and see what other people have written, you can post your list on the facebook dance missions page at: http://on.fb.me/1tndQsd I can’t wait to read what you come up with for this Dance Mission.