There is much to be learned from communicating without speaking, using movement, music and the body to reach another. Last night I ‘watched’ the movie Casablanca by ‘listening’ to it instead of actually watching it.

I was exercising on the floor in a part of the room where I could not see the television. I heard and understood lines of dialogue and nuance in conversation between characters as though I was ‘watching’ the movie for the first time, even though it would be safe to say I have probably seen the move two dozen times.

I noticed, as I lay on the floor exercising and listening to the movie, I was able to recall long ago visual memories of each scene, what the characters looked like, what they were doing, where they were standing, sitting, what was going on in the background, the lighting, whether it was day or night.

Watching the movie, its beautiful visuals splashed across the screen, I don’t have to imagine anything. I only have to do is absorb what is visually there with my eyes. But when I couldn’t see the screen, I had to work harder to picture, to imagine, what was going on, which reminded me of my instrument training as a pilot, having to scan the instruments to understand where I am in space, what the plane is doing – is it banking right or left, descending or ascending, speeding up or slowing down…

In training as an actor, we would put bags over our heads so as not to be distracted by any visual when we were working on a scene. Listen. Just listen. And remain as still as possible until something propels you to move.

And when I first began to learn to dance, when I was six, my teacher Elizabeth Waters would make us close our eyes as we moved, instructing us to move as slowly as possible. Not being able to see who was nearby forced us to sense movement around us, and our movements became much more precise, much more specific, in part because of the fear of bumping into or stepping on another dancer, but mostly out of a heightened desire to perform a precise movement.

When I watch Mark and Monica move together, I think about my early acting and dancing training and how I try to apply it to everything in life.

Come closer. What if we were to speak to one another with precision and intention? With expression and tenderness? Energy and gentleness?

What could we create?

What would our world be like?

How would it change our lives?

Individually? And with those we love? 

Ballet Dortmund

Dancers:  Mark Radjapov and Monica Fotescu-Uta

Choreography: Benjamin Millepied

Music: Philip Glass

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