Friday, April 12, 2013
Once upon a time, about 150 pounds ago, I was a dancer. I met my best friend in dance class. I learned confidence and independence in dance class. I learned to express myself in dance class. I learned the power and the limitations of my body in dance class, and I learned that I could be graceful and beautiful.
My best friend now teaches at the high school we attended, and she heads the dance arts program there, which is where we met. Twice a year, her students perform in their end-of-course dance concert, and for as long as she's been teaching there, I've been stage managing her shows.
Twice a year she and I reunite in our dancing glory days re-enactment and tell a bunch of high school kids how to turn out and to point their toes and go over count after count after count with them. Twice a year, I get to enjoy the looks of surprise on the kids faces when they see that despite my current size, I can still do the splits and I can still do battements that go above my waist without skewing my hips. Twice a year, I experience this INCREDIBLE yearning to move and make art with my body. Twice a year, I fall completely in love with music as the visual and the sound come together and inevitably catch me completely off guard.
One of the pieces in the show this semester, which we're performing this weekend, is to Ingrid Michaelson's version of "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You." (I'll pause, while you go find it on You Tube, because maybe my ramblings will make a little more sense). The song itself is pretty, to be sure. But then I watch the dancers on stage - their spines moving and their bodies contracting as if they're BREATHING this song, and it just becomes so much more than the music alone. The movement is at times literal - acting out the lyrics of the song - and at times completely earthy modern dance movement, and it's just... incredible. I've seen the piece at least 20 times this week alone, and every single time we run the show, when we get to this piece, I get chills and I tear up.
You see, I think this piece has become - in my mind - my opus to dance. To my healthy body. To movement and music and love and life and I know I sound cheesy and hippie-ish and crunchy right now, but this is what dance does to me. It roots me, and it melts me.
And when I hear the slow, percussive piano notes ring out, and SEE the anticipation of the next note that you can so clearly hear in the song, my breath catches and my anticipation builds, and I want to be out there moving with the dancers. I want to be celebrating the things I love by throwing my whole body into them.
Every time I do one of these shows, I can't help falling in love with dance.