Advent day 6 – Dance


I may have mentioned that I spent my university days studying painting and dance down in Brighton. I was, physically, a very late developer and spent my first year struggling with body shame and acne embarrassment.

My solution was to hide. To retreat from learning and spend a year in fear was my biggest downfall … yet, oddly, my resolve and eventual victory is something of which I am still proud today.

So … to dance

We were taught performance, which is not at all as technical as ballet but rigorous enough to require some determination and the ability to stand on a stage and be judged. I was lucky enough to do a workshop with Trisha Brown of The Judson Church fame and even interviewed her for my dissertation.

Day 6 Dance - Trisha Brown

Once I had overcome my neurotic self awareness, I began to study movement and the boundaries of a body’s reach. I was fascinated by the successful dancers of the time and their ability to almost control gravity with elegance and power.

My first introduction to contemporary dance was to Martha Graham. She was, and still is, a point of epiphany to me. Seeing how powerfully the smallest movements could express emotion drew me into her embrace. My heart skips when I see a photo of her still.

And further I watched the Japanese theatre form of Noh and Kabuki and saw how intense the slightest of gestures could be.

When I painted I began to understand that I was not capable of such intensity. I enjoyed and relished the freedom of large marks, the divorcing of oneself from the control of wet paint once it had left the brush. The faith that you had to have in surrender to that practice.

Dance to fall

So I began to emulate this in my dance performance. Over-reaching, almost falling, putting my body in a place where I had to have faith that the resolution was okay whatever happened. I learned control and the ability to let go all at once.

I felt I had reached a place of considered practice and achieved a personal style. I was unaware of what I looked like but pursued the exercise regardless.

Luckily for me, it seemed to go well and after failing my first year and being threatened with expulsion I was delighted to receive a good degree.

I saw this piece the other day … it brings back memories of confidence and involvement that i have not felt for a while. It was glorious and made me so happy.

I wanted to share it with you


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