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.

And then I noticed that as I lay on the floor, exercising and listening to the movie, I was able to remember visuals from 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, it’s beautiful visuals splashed across the screen, I don’t have to imagine anything. All I have to do is absorb what is there. But when I couldn’t see the screen, I had to work harder to picture what was going on. It reminded me of my instrument training as a pilot, scanning 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…

When I was studying acting we would put bags over our heads so as not to be distracted by any visual whatsoever when we were working on a scene. Listen. Just listen. And remain as still as possible until something propels you to move.

When I first began to learn to dance, when I was six, 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 close by forced us to sense movement around us and our movements became therefore much more precise, much more specific…in order not to bump into or step on another dancer.

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

Ah, to begin each day dancing…

Ballett Dortmund

Dancers: Mark Radjapov and Monica Fotescu-Uta

Music: Philip Glass

Choreography: Benjamin Millepied

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