Monday, September 5, 2011

Reflections on "Dance" by Deng Ming-Dao. Part 1 (see Ancient interpretations post for reference)

eek. In naming this post, I am beginning a series of reflections.

First, Social dance and Becky's wedding.

Second, Doris Says...

Social dance and Becky's wedding. I love Becky and need to publicly congratulate her and Kelly. Becky is a beautiful person through and through. A dancer, choreographer, entertainer, leader, stage-manager, friend.... I don't know Kelly very personally, other than he is a perfect complement to my dear friend Becky. And that's all that matters. Oh, and Kelly's a clown. And so's Becky's father. Really. Did I mention that this wedding was full of performers? Say what you want about professional clowns, but I've seen few performers, other than dancers, as comfortable in their bodies. Amazing!

And so, this wedding was full of completely embodied experiences, complete with a secret flash mob. Of course, I took part! Early in the evening, I just observed. So many people dancing! I didn't know many of them, and I'm sure that many of them didn't know each other, but it didn't matter. (As a side note, I did not see any excessive use of alcohol at this wedding, so these were not drunken dances.) Everyone participated. Everyone danced. Everyone smiled and laughed and wow... the excitement of being together and sharing in a celebration through physical (dancing), mental (the pre-ceremony and post-ceremony engagements), and spiritual (the ceremony itself) participation was so clearly evident. Social status didn't matter. Levels of education didn't matter. Levels of dance experience didn't matter. Body shape didn't matter. Clothing style didn't matter. What did matter was the celebration of the human experience. And the experience was SHARED THROUGH THE DANCE.

Usually, I get caught up in this and am compelled to be moving myself. Who wouldn't? And I do make it a personal prerogative to get those who aren't moving, on the (dance) floor. (So beware) Because, really, you (strange people who aren't dancing) wouldn't be standing at the edge of the dance floor, or watching the action with a bopping head if you didn't want to be there, too. You can pretend you don't want to be in the middle of all those moving, engaged, energized bodies, but you can't deny the smile, nor the next 45 minutes you'll remain on the dance floor after I pull you in. It's intoxicating and invigorating in a way that no grown or manufactured drug can be. There is nothing that can replace the shared energy of dancing. I've been witness to this since I was twelve and allowed to attend the (dry) cast parties after the Nutcracker. And the Catholic, middle-school dances. And the high-school proms. And the many weddings and events I've attended since.

But this time, I watched. And smiled. And realized that no matter what, people will always find a way and a reason to dance.

Here's me watching. There was a whole 45 minutes where I observed and reflected:

And here's me participating:

I can't sit still for too long...

Why should anyone????????

Congratulations and thank you, Becky and Kelly!!!!!!

Part two: Doris Says... opened on Thursday and closed on Friday.

I performed a solo, as part of a commitment to Cassandra Cotta. She's got her own blog: and received a grant from Temple University to conduct some research.

As a trusted friend, she asked me to participate. Honestly, looking at the program for Doris Says... I thought it was too short, so I invited Cassandra to show what she was working on. And I suggested that I perform a solo based upon what was happening in my life, for her research (read her blog to gain perspective). There are few things that are as honest as true performance. Or true dance. Ming-Dao really strikes a cord with "You cannot think about dance. You cannot count the beats or tell yourself to do this step and that step. Instead, you have to act in a way that puts aside your everyday conscious mind. You just have to dance."

I've been going through a lot, personally and professionally, that doesn't need to be detailed in this post, but is admitted in my body. So, I titled my public investigations "Out of... (when everything isn't enough) and/or a dance for..." So the first three little dots mean "time" or "money". Yes. That honest moment of panic when I realized that I either sink or swim, compromise or lose, take a deep breath or suffocate... but also realize that I have/had a choice. And that's what the dance became about. The moment of performance was about making choices. I used my eyes. My focus. My attention. One dear mentor suggested that I had a clear understanding of the inward, twisting capability of my body. That I would be a strong candidate for the study of Butoh, which, very, VERY simply stated, is a Japanese art form of presentation that finds beauty in the grotesque. I took that as a deep compliment. He also told me that my performance revealed more of myself to him. (and I still had a long way to go....) I generally try to hide this (personal vulnerabilities), as a "What your birthday says about you" book on clearance in Borders so aptly described. But at the same time, I want my audience, my mentors, my friends to challenge me, to see me. As Ming-Dao says, "You can't hide yourself when you dance."

The second part of the title, "and/or a dance for..." initially meant my dear friend, Cassandra. But it became a dance for breath. A dance for survival. A dance for exploration. A dance for honesty. A dance for strength. A dance for Me.

We had the camera set up, but no one pressed record. Perhaps, that too, was a part of the dance. I remember it (on Thursday evening). I wish I could see it, take a little electrocuted car or elevator to the past. But I know that the moment can only exist in the dance. And that has passed. (passed, not past. i believe they have different connotations. like watching a dragonfly flit by, knowing that it has a journey, but that journey has eluded the viewer, and maybe not so important to the viewer except that the dragonfly and that viewer shared that moment in time....).

Just as I know that my dear friends Becky and Kelly are no longer living their wedding night, but are embarking on a new journey. Every day is a new beginning. Every moment is a new chance to dance. And to be honest. Because "You can't hide yourself when you dance."

From photo shoots from "Doris Says..."

And a personal fav... because this does capture many of my "thinking" or "what the....?" honest faces...

and I also happen to love Michael and Angie's expressions as well... oh, Doris... I wish we could chat over coffee or a nice bottle of wine.... until then... 

dear readers, please dance!

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