Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mover & Maker

Today, I Am This:

A Dancer.

Like most people I'm many different things in life.  A blogger, for instance.  A sister, daughter, cousin, friend.  An actress.  A would-be cook/baker.  Sometimes, I'm even a poet.  Today though, I am a dancer.

That statement is actually vaguely misleading: I have always been a dancer, before I was even born.  You'd have to ask my mom about it - but that's a separate post.  The point is, I have always had two things I've felt compelled to do - to  move and to make.  More than a "dancer," (a word which gives people one of two images: flat-chested girls in tutus & tiaras, spinning pink & glitter with ribbons tied to their knees, or enhanced-chested girls in hotpants & extensions, also spinning glitter. . .) I am a mover & a maker.

I can't sit still for long: even as I blog, one of my legs is bouncing rhythmically up down to my Pandora station's latest selection.  I have to fidget, to clean, to work in my garden, to get up and stretch, to practice my relevees as I brush my teeth.  To fall into my bed at the end of the day, sore and drained and empty, ready for the night to fill me again with energy as I sleep.

By the same token, I feel a constant tug to create.  When I was little, I loathed board games (in fact I still do).  I far preferred to make up games: the characters, the rules, the locations, all original and new.  I was obsessed with modeling clay and inventing new worlds for my dolls.  I didn't like coloring books: I wanted to draw my own pictures.  I hated the chicken dance, the macarena, the electric side.  I could make up my own dances, thankyouverymuch.  As I got older, the need to make something new became half finished sewing projects, a closet full of beads, more polymer clay, and a deep love of music.  I still preferred making up my own dances. . .

One of my best moments in dance was the pinnacle of moving & making. I was sixteen, and my dance studio was doing purely student choreographed showcase.  Me and the only boy, my friend Russell, teamed up for a Pas De Deux.  He wanted more contemporary.  I wanted more classical.  We butted heads.  We stayed late at the studio, with classes that got out at 9:45 pm already.  We sweat.  He must have lifted me a thousand different ways. . . then I got injured (I know, I know!  Literally the story of my life!)  I had blown out my entire left ribcage.  All the muscles that were supposed to hold it together were some combination of torn or strained (to this day my left ribcage is longer than my right. It was the kind of injury that doesn't heal).  And we worked anyway.  We'd both grit our teeth and try again, with sweat and sometimes tears on our faces.  He trusted me more than anyone ever had before: that I was able to do this.  That I was strong enough, capable enough, that his choreography & mine would have the debut it deserved.

And I quite literally put my (very broken) self in his hands.  That he wouldn't drop me, that it wouldn't hurt too much, that when I jumped, he would be there.  When I had my back to him, we were counting the music the same, so when I turned back 'round, we would match.  I wouldn't fall again. . .

The end result was something I am still proud of - yes, our technique needed work.  Yes, I am a much better dancer now than I was then and he is in fact a professional.  No, it will not be anything I include on audition tapes.  But we moved - Oh, how we moved!  My favorite moment was when I simply an at him (this was, I assure you, more impressive than it sounds.  I run rather fast.  And am rather curvy. . .) and jumped with all my strength into him.  He caught me, pressing me above his head and spinning in a circle as I moved my legs - the effect was that I was running down an invisible staircase as he rotated.

I will never forget curtsying after, him lightly holding my hand in his.  The feel of the lights on the back of my neck as I dipped my head.  The smell of the rosin.  The sound of the applause, thunderous and muffled all at once.

This is what I need, right now.  This, this is who I am today - I am a dancer.  I need to run and leap and trust that someone's hands will be there - or that my own legs will be strong enough to catch me.  I need to pirouette so fast, the world blurs away and I am a stable, solitary point in these rotating heavens.  I need to work until I gasp for sweet, heavy air - not winded from running to nowhere, but from creating.

This is who I am. . .

I am a mover.  I am a maker.

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