Tuesday, June 26, 2012
30 days of birthday - day 26: dance, dance, dance
earlier this evening, i went to a dance rehearsal for the as-of-yet unnamed billie holiday piece i'm doing with francesca harper for the harlem arts festival on this saturday. two of her dancers were there -- pliable and open and smart, and willing. i had no idea what to expect. i thought i was going to watch them create this something out of nothing but fran insisted that i play with them, and simply move around in the space and improvise. let's play! sounds innocuous enough. there was no choreography, per se. we were moving around and thinking aloud and cracking jokes and wondering how this might look or how does this feel or does this work this way. as everything began to unravel and we explored the audio and got lost in the sound of billie holiday's speaking voice, telling these little stories about herself, something else gradually took over. i forgot about the time. i forgot myself. i forgot my fear of dance, that thing in me that said this isn't mine.
through it all, fran's voice was this guiding light, shaping everything, suggesting something, requesting this, asking that. slowly but surely, we found our way. there was a moment when all of us were throwing so many ideas into the air, i could feel whatever worked sticking to us from the inside out. that was glorious.
all of it was storytelling, every single bit of it. because i knew the storyline, i could do the movement. but it was so much more than that. for the first time in my life -- with the bright exception of the lindy and of course those tea social dances from the 1920s -- i was moving with grace and ease and purpose and i wasn't lost. i wasn't self-conscious or uncomfortable, either. it didn't scare me. it made sense. it felt right. it fit with what was happening around me, with what everyone else was doing and most importantly with the music that flowed through the piece. and it was fun.
thank God we videotaped it!
this is francesca's gift to me, though i suspect she hardly gave any of it a second thought, aside from yay, we're making cool blackgrrl art. when i tried to explain myself, i sounded like an idiot.
perhaps someday if she ever meets my brother the dancer, she'll understand.