Work is Love Made Visible
To say I loved the process of getting ready for the Nachmo event this past Wednesday night is a massive understatement. So often words are inadequate; luckily we have music and dance to speak instead.
I have been trying to break down what
made this experience so special, and I have realized that there are a couple of key components to the experience. The first was the deadline. In roughly a months time I had to come up with something I felt was worthy of being seen by others. We ended up having about three weeks together because of snow interrupting our rehearsal plans... perhaps New England can plan a summer event. Rehearsal time and space were at a premium (but as always thank you Jen Barden and Spotlight Vermont), so I had to be prepared and ready to go for each meeting. When I worked at home alone, I had to view what I did critically and get rid of what wasn’t working and move on quickly. Every movement had to have intention and clarity, or it was cut. It was so freeing. No time for agonizing or trying to force something to work. I am realizing that this is a great way to live. Give a time limit, get it done and let it be. When I brought the work to the studio, I was clear in my vision, thus, I was able to see what worked on the dancers. They in turn could dance fully, and we were able to keep tweaking and changing movement until it was working for all three of us. What started as my vision, quickly became a collaboration, and was more beautiful for it. But, it would have never have happened without the preparation and intention* that was necessary because of the tight timeframe. The sheer work of it was enormous, yet it never felt like drudgery, which leads to the next realization.
The second and perhaps most important aspect of this process, was perhaps the most obvious and maybe even cliched. It’s the old saw of being true to yourself, not trying to be
something you are not to impress, or fit in. I went with my heart and used possibly the most beautiful music ever written*, and tried to match the emotional feel with my movement. I asked Shelley and Ellie to be vulnerable and brave all within the same movement phrases. I wanted to show that life takes both courage and the willingness to be open to sorrow. Without pain, joy means nothing; it has no context. I wanted to fully examine this concept , and live up to the Incredible beauty and complexity of Beethoven’s music. The pain of knowing he was deaf, in contrast with the joy of knowing what he could hear in his heart and mind infused and drove my movement.
Shelley and Ellie surpassed any expectations I had. They worked so hard and with such intense focus. Shelley never stopped practicing, between classes, at home, and with each run through she had more questions and a greater clarity. Ellie was so open to all suggestions, and changes I kept making to her movements. She never got frustrated as I changed her opening movements over and over again. (I was completely annoyed with my inability to get the opening right until very late in the process).She was careful with Shelley’s body while being fearless with her own. They both took criticism and correction in stride and kept working towards our shared vision. They never seemed to doubt me, or think I was crazy with all the wild metaphors I would share or explanations I would give with no actual words. Their trust and patience was a gift.
The actual performance was held at the Karma Bird House Kestrel Cafe. A beautiful space with exposed brick and original hardwood floors; a small space, but lovely. Ellie had just enough room to really move and Shelly looked quite perfect in her chair as she waited to begin. The performance was one of those magical happenings. Both dancers emotionally open to each other and the movements, the music just the right volume , and the audience silent and receptive. I didn’t film it, or take a photo. I just watched it as if I had never seen it before. And as it turns out, I hadn’t. This moment was new, danced with its own love and intention*. It was so so beautiful, and I felt such satisfaction. Not because I had done this work, but because as I watched I forgot that I had , and was swept up in the story that Ellie and Shelley told together.
The dancing was gorgeous , and so many friends had come to support me; I left the performance with such gratitude. How incredibly lucky I am to have dancers wiling to work so hard to bring my visions to life.
Work is love made visible, and I believe the love was visible to all.