Art reflects life. Dance = art. Three little dots in a triangle or therefore: dance reflects life. (I can't do those fancy math/ simile/ SAT/ GRE formats on this blog. I'm going to assume you get the picture.)
Realizing that making assumptions makes an @$$ out of U and ME. And that in that equation, there are no transitions.
Did I mention that I'm not a fan of transitions? It's a personal thing. I've been working on it. And it's something that I think is reflected in my choreography. But, strangely (thankfully... because I've been working on it and it's been noticed), I've received recent comments in class specifically regarding my transitions. Ellie Goudie-Averill encouraged us to pair up and watch our partner - providing specific guided feedback (side note - love this pedagogical tool). My partner had a daring-ness that I admired. She said she admired my transitions and how seamless I made them. (I found this quite humorous and interesting.... I hate transitions, but she saw them and perceived them... research!)
Which brings me back to the plie.
I've been practicing and leading barre Monday-Saturday mornings since the beginning of June. Almost eight solid weeks of serious, intense, daily barre practice. My practice begins with a tendu exercise followed by a plie exercise. There is some variation, but not too much. Karen Dearborn, a dear teacher and mentor, instilled this practice in me. The showing up to the barre is the first step. The familiarity of the first few exercises is the second step. In that familiarity, the body, mind, and spirit prepare for the ensuing practice and are allowed to enter into the practice with a safe point of engagement. From this safe point, the challenge, daring-ness, vulnerability, failure, and risk-taking can occur successfully.
About four weeks into this practice, I noted that my plie was deeper. Something that my body structure would never previously allow. This deeper plie provided a release, a safety, a jumping-off point to further investigate the boundaries and limits of my body. Because this/ these initial plies gave me a sense of self, I was able to work more deeply in my practice.
my plies became different.
Things in my life space are changing... things in my dance space are changing... things are changing.
And my plie is responding, but without judgement. I am paying attention... and recognizing that my body is responding and processing through my practice. That my external situation is manifesting itself in my body and my practice and my plies, and that my internal situation - from which the plies stem and then grow into larger movement - allows me to process those external situations.
And in my practice of teaching, I've recognized that showing up to the barre has become more than just waking-up-early-and-warming-up-before-a-technique-class.
It's a practice of showing up to the body.
My own teaching and learning practice is revealing to me that I have a linear structure and a clear technical structure within which to work (the ballet vocabulary and pedagogy), but my own kinesphere is larger... my capacity is larger. And my lessons (at least in my mind and design) have begun to reflect the absence of concrete structures. (ie, the floor... which I understand is a very post-post-modern way of teaching and thinking. More on this later? I LOVE the image of sand. And the sand beneath the swing set in a public park. There is a natural trenching that occurs from the dragging of feet and swinging momentum that burrows below the expected line of the ground.... The undercurve... the rebound... the impermanence of it all)
The plie is constant motion. Constant change. Acceptance of movement. A lowering, a raising, an arriving, and a continuance.
My pelvis, and therefore upper body, are different in first, second, fourth, and fifth positions. In the span of two minutes of plies and port de bras, I negotiate my body in at least sixteen different ways with awareness, expansiveness, delicacy, discipline, and reverence. Reverence for my body and for the discipline.
Those plies connect me with myself, with the energy of the day, and with the universe as it is revealing itself to me. It's no wonder that many audition-ers can know what type of dancer you are after plies and tendues. We are revealing ourselves in the simple (?) bending of our knees.
I will lead barre again tomorrow. I don't know who will come to the practice, if anyone will come to the practice. But I will engage with my plies. And so engaging with my plie and with my body, engage with the many transitions that my body (bodies - physical, energetic, psychological, emotional) will engage with throughout the day. (Too many prepositions? I'm out of my analytic mind right now and into my body-mind).
We practiced plies in Dance for PD today. Plies to strengthen the body and the legs to support... well... that's another post.
May you transition well... and may you accept the undercurve of the plie knowing that the grounding leads to lengthening and to a new journey... even if that journey is only from first position to second.