Tuesday, December 17, 2013

There is More Than One Way to Dance...

A thing that many other people know about me but which I have only now accepted as truth is that I can't dance.  I like to dance and in my youth I did some dancing, which I am sure was awkward as hell.  Frankly, I'm pretty much physically awkward all the way around.  This is not to say that I'm not coordinated, but rather that I wear that awareness of being seen so tightly around myself that even when I am alone I feel like someone is watching.  Well, and when it comes to moving with grace I am not, in fact, coordinated.  I can move surprisingly quickly and with some agility (for a big guy who is getting older) but if I have to do it with intention (rather than as a reflex) I'm pretty much lost.  As soon as I move past that moment of reflex so that there is any opportunity for the pre-frontal cortex to get involved in the process, it's over.

I know this more deeply now because one of my classes this Fall in my MFA program was beginning tap.  It's not really a class that I had to take.  As a directing candidate I don't have to take any movement classes, but I was interested in seeing if I could get any better at moving.  In my heart of hearts I believed that if I invested some energy into learning, that I COULD DANCE.  Sadly, it is not so.

Oh, I can do some of the mechanics, sort of.  But when it comes to letting go and really engaging the musicality of what I was trying to do, it was simply not happening...except when I moved backwards, sort of...whatever.

There was a lot of laughter involved in this process.  The rest of the class was mostly freshmen and most of them were dancers at some level or another, so I was very much the quirky old guy in the room.  The whole thing was rather hilarious and I had a blast doing it.  You don't have to be good at something to love the process.

This awareness of the world is something that runs throughout my reflections about learning and growth and being whole.  It's popped up before in this blog and it will continue to do so as I move forward.  It has to do with so much more than dancing.  It runs deeper into the physical act of swimming in the world.  Of being a part of some weird physiological network that's filled with little roadblocks and little expressways.  Connections seem to start and stop in weird fits ands starts.  Like hugging.  Such a simple and yet significant act.  I mean, of course I hug people.  I hug my kids...though probably not enough.  I hug friends.  Hugs are awesome.  But in public, or when it's part of a ritualized moment.  I don't know, it's awkward. Theatre people hug a lot, so it's something I can play around with and no one thinks I'm weird...which is useful. Hugging is absolutely essential.

Being a part of a network is essential.  It's a part of Actualization (see yesterday's post).  Hugs are the synapses of that network.  It purges angst, establishes intimacy, communicates concern, spreads joy.  All those things.  Hugging is good.  Dancing is good.  A touch on a shoulder.  Watching from the periphery can sometimes be hard to avoid.  There are echoes of vulnerability in this thread that connect to an August post as well.  At that time I was reflecting on Brene Brown's Ted Talks.
Another comment resonated with so much of what I have been reflecting on.  "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change." 
And this idea of dancing as a function of vulnerability, and even more that it is a crucible in which innovation, creativity and change can occur seems very attractive to me.  It suggests that rather than dismiss this experience as evidence that this is not a skill set in which I will find myself, I should look to the ways in which it creates a space for change.  The act of vulnerability is not the same as exhibiting proficiency.  On the contrary, high levels of proficiency reduce the degree of vulnerability, so it really is in those things that we are least proficient that we create the greatest potential for innovation, creativity, and change.  Well, there's a little flaw in the logic there...but the core of the idea remains: without pushing beyond the known vulnerability is not available.

So there should be more to the lesson of this class than the honest realization that I am not suited to dancing.  What might I have learned from living in a soup in which I was not comfortable?  It's a part of being human.

Dance like no one is watching.  Yup, not gonna happen.  But somehow you have to dance anyway.  It's just that for some of us, we have no choice but to dance like everyone is watching.  Of course, none of that will keep me from continuing to try and dance!  Sorry, y'all!  Tomorrow...singing!

No comments: