Mid-May through mid-June is a unique time at the Delaware Bay. Migratory birds are passing over head, tourists are beginning to line the beaches, and horseshoe crabs come to shore to "meet and greet" and lay eggs. The crabs are a keystone species for this region, as they & their eggs often become food for the thousands of migratory birds passing through the region. Minus the tourists, this cycle has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years.
They're kinda ugly and scary looking at first. They move slowly on the sand, hidden by a hard shell. But, upon closer inspection, they're quite fascinating!
I've been thinking a lot, lately, about perception. First impressions. What's visible vs. what's invisible. Questioning beauty. What's an acceptable dancing body. What's acceptable. Who determines that... How can the invisible become visible? Is it possible to have a strong, yet pliable exterior while remaining vulnerable, yet actively seeking and powerful internally?
It's with this last question that the horseshoe crab revealed her truths to me. The answer is a resounding "Yes!"
On a visit to the Delaware Bay, I watched these crabs be washed up onto shore. Externally, they rolled, tossed about by the surf. But! They were safe! Externally manipulated by their environment, but rolling with the tide, undeterred from their quest to make it to the sand. Internally, their bodies grasped and pulled and reached forward, constantly moving. When the waves turned them onto their backs, their internal limbs fought to right themselves.... sometimes needing an external helping hand. Or waiting for the waves to toss them onto their bellies again.
What does this have to do with dance?
Dancing artistry requires that we be vulnerable - have our metaphorical bellies exposed to the elements. The small, soft body that we need to access our artistry is constantly seeking. Striving. Reaching. Our kinesphere becomes like the horseshoe crab's shell - protective, but pliable. Tossed in the sea of experimentation, yet, creating a safe, internal space from which our small body can reach and search and grasp. Creating space to seek.
I'm playing with this idea in my own practice. Constantly seeking, allowing vulnerability to exist, yet knowing I'm safe and protected within my own kinesphere and within the studio space. Existing in the practice of dance that has endured hundreds and thousands of years, despite being tossed within the surf.
What do you find with this image? Report back!
For more info on horseshoe crabs - click on this link from the Ecological Research & Development Group on Horseshoe Crabs
For more info on the Delaware Bay's ecological system, click here
|the hard exterior of the horseshoe crab|
|Lots of horseshoe crabs on the shore|
|The soft belly of the horseshoe crab|
And this allows me a new opportunity to understand what Mary Oliver meant when she wrote "Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves..."
Where is "your place in the family of things"?