Doris Humphrey wrote: "For the audience, it makes very little different what a dance is about..."
Reading that makes me chuckle a little because often times I hear from very intelligent people, "So, we'll have to sit down so you can explain that to me." And tonight (at the InHale Performance Series), from a theatre director that I deeply respect, "I'd like your perspective. Personally, give me a narrative." (Delivered with the utmost respect and love for art-sharing).
So, what is modern dance about? Shrug. Sometimes, it's just about asking the question. Or sometimes, it's just about being in the space. Like a sculpture. Only it's unfolding before you.
Artists (including dance artists) do not make arbitrary decisions. Their decisions may seem arbitrary, but they are methodically planned to seem arbitrary. No, this isn't a mind game. We (artists) do not make work to make you (the audience) feel stupid and inferior. At least, not the artists and the work that I've directly come in contact with. We might think differently, but so do you.
Hear me out.
When I was much younger, a friend gave me a quote that has stayed with me: "A dream is an answer to a question you have not yet learned how to ask."
I used to wonder if that dream meant the one you have at night or the one helps map out the future. Tonight I realized that the dream could be the dance.
The crazy things that don't make sense when you wake up but they totally make sense when you're sleeping... you know exactly what I'm talking about. There's a sense of trust that your dream state won't let you down - even if you're losing in your dream. It's real. It's happening. Right now. And somewhere in your brain and in another place, you can fly and your teeth really have fallen out, and your legs don't have bones but you can support yourself in an upright position.
Tonight, I'm thinking that this is where those questions lie: In the dreams that have manifested into a reality-of-sorts that we call live performance.
So, to my narrative theater friend and my fellow audience members, I give you permission not to "get it" in this moment. Or in the next. If you need permission from a dance artist. You are not stupid, so please don't expect to feel that way or accept the feeling. Thank you for taking the first step into our dreams... the ones that exist when we sleep and the ones that we can transform to share and question and figure out with you. Ultimately, that's why we're all coming together... right?
Congratulations to all of the InHale Participants. Thank you to everyone who came out to support this strong performance!