What would come to mind if I were to ask each of you what inspires you? How would you answer if I were to ask you what it is like when you meet someone you admire or respect for the first time? What would you say if I were to ask you to describe what the experience of discovery is like, how you feel, how it affects you, what it means to you…intellectually, emotionally, creatively, physically?
Would you answer truthfully about your fears, about your success or disappointment in the journey? Are you okay with not knowing, not being perfect, about having to step outside your comfort zone and ask of yourself something you think you might not be able to do? What if that ‘discomfort zone’ were public and you would be criticized and written up for all to read about forever? What if you couldn’t have a Do-Over? Can you find satisfaction in the midst of criticism? Or would you slip into coulda, shoulda, woulda?
I could write another dozen questions and there would still be more to ask, because I am not sure we ever learn anything about ourselves if we always stay in our comfort zones. I am not sure we ever learn anything about ourselves if we don’t surround ourselves with people who ask more of us. It’s one thing when we ask it of ourselves. But it’s something else entirely when it is in an investigative partnership with another person and there is no way of knowing whether the outcome will fulfill our definition of what is good.
I love stories about partnerships, about every kind of melding of creative, intelligent minds – author and agent, filmmaker and cinematographer, theatre director and playwright, musician and producer, designer and seamstress, architect and interior designer, painter and model, entrepreneur and venture capitalist…dancer and choreographer.
I post about dance often because the essence of it is the creation of something that is only possible if there is great trust, playfulness, vulnerability, and a mutual willingness to explore and discover between the dancers and the choreographer. The great choreographers created on, or for, or with, a muse of sorts, each talent – the choreography and the dancing – “expressed” by the other’s interpretation of it.
Wendy Whelan is an extraordinary dancer who has spent her entire career in the world of ballet. Restless Creature, a series of dances (conversations) between Whelan and four choreographers (Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks and Alejandro Cerrudo) each of whom are also her dance partners, is Whelan’s venture into the world of modern dance in partnership with four different (male) choreographers. She talks in each of these videos about process, about discovery, about beginnings.
For those of you who are artists, no matter what kind, I thought this might resonate. And, for what it’s worth, as a writer I post about dance and I absorb as much of it as possible because writing is choreography. It is movement. It is energy. It is music. And a reader is a kind of partner. There is nothing passive about reading. It is very much an action, as is being in the audience at a play or a performance of any kind. It appears to be passive…but I venture to say there is nothing at all passive about listening, hearing, seeing and feeling.
I wish each of these dances were available in their complete form but the dance world doesn’t make it easy these days, either to see one nearby or on the net. Restless Creature is only traveling to nine cities (the size of the American dance audience? ‘Tis a pity if true…)
There is also a review in the Times, which I am not attaching because frankly I don’t think it’s nearly as interesting as listening to Whelan herself talk about her process. They are available on Vimeo as well (which is rather more aesthetically pleasing than YouTube, but YouTube makes it slightly easier to view one after another.
Ego et Tu, Wendy Whelan and Alejandro Cerrudo
The Serpent and the Smoke, Wendy Whelan and Kyle Abraham
First Fall, Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks
Waltz Epocha, Wendy Whelan and Joshua Beamish
In the spirit of exchange, conversation and my passion for dance…I offer them all to you should you be interested.
#blogsofaugust #dance #ballet