What is Left
When I was a little girl I was fascinated by stories of resilience. Sarah Crewe, Anne, Laura Ingalls, Helen Keller; these characters and real life heroines informed my days, and nights , as I read under covers with a flashlight. The question I always had was, “What helped these girls overcome their situations, and live with fullness and verve?”
When I was a little older, and learned more of the evil in the world, the questions deepened, yet became more simple. “Why did some people not only survive tough times, but thrive, while others sank into a life of despair and/ or violence?” The question has become “how do you keep living beautifully when you have lost almost everything? What do to you do with what is left?
And so, my new project, a piece called "What is Left". Continuing to journey out of my comfort zone, I have joined the NACHMO/VDA choreographic challenge. In one month’s time from today, I will show a piece ready for critique, but not necessarily finished. A showing with feedback (terrifying), in a strange venue, and not really among friends. I am nervous, and frankly a little scared.
But it is a theme that speaks to me; one that honed my life these past two years of extreme loss, but also see all around me. I feel it for my almost 89 year old mother, formerly of the genius IQ, and incredible memory, suffering now extreme short term memory loss, that threatens her independence and sense of self. This is a woman who survived a brutal childhood though brains and guile. The guile still lives on, thwarting attempts to help her, fighting to keep what is left on her own terms. I understand it in my dear friend Shelley Ismael, dancer, teacher, mover ; who asks herself who will she be when age takes dance from her. I ask myself: Who will I be when my disc disease robs me of movement, as it does day by day.
"What is Left", is my attempt to answer this question. Shelley dancing , but seated, little or no standing; back, arms, sternum, face and spirit telling a story. A young dancer coming out in a moment of physical memory, alone becomes a duet with past and present. And hopefully concluding with a lovely acceptance of what is left, with no judgment, and peace with continued striving. What better music to dance to then a moving almost hymn like piece by Beethoven. A musical prodigy, abused child, a man cursed with many physical ailments, and a temperament that was not congenial; Beethoven wrote his most beautiful and revolutionary music while deaf and almost friendless. Alone with the quiet or a maddening tinnitus, he prevailed, took what was left and made it extraordinary.
I don’t have any illusions of the extraordinary, but my hope is to take what is left for me, and spin it into grateful joy, one small dance at a time; one day at a time; each precious moment in time unveiling the story of what is left.