Finally I got a good video of this piece! And I ask you, what flamenco dancer doesn’t want to dance in front of flames? This piece, Effort and The Triumph of Being debuted at the LEVYdance Salon on June 2nd earlier this year. I am still working it and refining it. This was an interesting performance because it was challenging to perform something like this for an intimate audience. It forced me to be brave and play with the audience. Genius. Just what I needed.
For the past 11 and a half years of my life I have worked as the Accounting Manager for a San Francisco law firm. That means I have not had a break for longer than two weeks in eleven years. Ok, save for when I had Aleister. That was four months. Damn, sounded much better eleven years straight. . . but even still! That was almost ten years ago when I had Aleister! Eleven years. When was the last time you did the same thing for eleven years? The only thing I can compare it to was public school grades 1-12. And we all know how that transforms us. And so it is with a joyful heart that I announce that I am leaving this job and beginning the new business of me. Yep, I won’t go into all the ornery details about how or why, just suffice to say I have been calling for this opportunity for a number of years now and the nice easy push has finally manifested.
I’d like to think it has something to do with this last year. We are always expanding, growing, and changing every day. Whether we want to or not. Spend 365 days leaning into what you love and it is like leaning your foot onto the gas pedal – you speed up and something is bound to happen. And so as I come around the curve into the final stretch of this project, I wanted to dramatize a little part of me that I’m leaving behind. So, please enjoy a Farewell To A Pity Party. It is the end of an era.
Every once in awhile when I’m in a “mood” I do ponder what exactly am I doing? It is especially difficult when people ask me “what type of dance do you create?” well. . . it depends on who is asking. If you are a modern dancer I will tell you that I am creating contemporary flamenco, and if you are a flamenco dancer I will tell you I am creating contemporary dance because most of what I do horrifies the flamenco community. I understand why and am at peace with them. In fact, I love that they hold down the traditional stuff. Without it, there wouldn’t be the container for expansion and play.
Then I watch the video from a studio session like this and I’m like aha! there’s a little tap in there, ah and some belly-dancing hips, the fluid lines and turns of a lyrical dancer. I consider myself a contemporary dancer influenced by the many years of flamenco dance and my own personal physical strengths and weaknesses. I use what is easily available, long-limbs, expressive hands, curvy body (I can’t escape being curvy if I tried – which I have), flexible body – and I’m working on my weaknesses (strengthening a narrow core that has to support all the rest of my curviness, and I really want to find some ease in dancing on/with the floor more often). In reality, I am a Holly dancer, just as each of you are in turn your own unique dancing vibrating being.
And sometimes when I’m not in a “mood” I allow myself to be just that. A Holly dancer in her studio playground. I play and it is good and fun.
For the last six weeks, I’ve been teaching a dance class to 8 teenage girls in Oakland. What began as a simple hip-hop class has evolved into a weekly exploration of self for these girls. Not quite meaning to, but in response to the desires I felt in them, I shaped a sort of discovery of self thru dance – class. Before we get to the hip hop we spend time breathing and exploring movement and our emotions of the present moment. It has been challenging for them at times but they have really risen to the occasion and it is breath-taking to witness. Anyhow, last week, we did a dance of resistance and allowing – which can be some pretty difficult work. I chose it specifically for them because week after week I would feel their resistance clearly as though they had cartoon bubbles speaking to me over their heads. Even though they kept showing up to class, they had so much resistance to dance “are you kidding me?!!!”, resistance to try “omg that is so not cool!,” resistance to me, “who is this lady expecting so much out of us?” Teenagers feel resistance to their very core as they are challenged to become the whole sum of who they are. They are fraught with fears of it but full of passionate desire for it. “This is your ‘Hell NO! Dance'” I encouraged them, “You hate this exercise? Then dance that!” I was relentless. The process was rocky and took a long time, but eventually the movement came and then I slowly transitioned into the Allowing Dance, the “Hell Yes! Dance.” The energy in the room lifted like a hopeful bubble, “Ah, now that I’m dancing a little this isn’t so bad. I can do this. . . hmmm that’s kind of interesting. . . never done that before”
Afterwards, as I tried to transition into a fast paced hip hop warm up, I paused to look back at them and saw dazed delicate faces still immersed in the images they had just summoned from the depths of their beings, sweat glistening on their confused foreheads. Realizing they weren’t quite ready to move on, I stopped what I was doing and had them write some of their thoughts down and then allowed them to seal them into envelopes for their own comfort. Never have I seen them take up their pens and paper with such voracity and purpose. Dancing your resistance and allowing is powerful work.
And so I’ve been doing my own dances of resistance and allowance the past week or so. After watching this bit of movment, I realized that this also is one of them.
Well, sort of. You see I have all these video clips on my iPhone and I had a little down time today, so I decided to edit together this fun little video showing clips from the first 50 days of this project. Now that it’s done I feel like I can delete some of them and move on. It was also good to kind of review what work I’ve been doing and notice some of my patterns of movement and larger creating patterns. Some of these clips have never been seen by anyone before. . . oooh. . .ahhh;) I’d like to thank all the artists that have worked with me so far and relinquished their talents to my video blogging: Miriam Peretz, Hannah Romanowsky, Mestre Kenneth Pitts, Kirah Caminos, Per Apelmo, Laura Hanks, Aleister, Sage, Nina, and the many obliging pedestrians.
Many people know Laura as a dancer, but few know that she has a beautiful singing voice and writes great songs. This is one of them. There are other versions of this on youtube that she likes better for her singing. I chose this particular take to post here because I feel like the song and the dance come together better here. Trying to combine the rigidness of the repeated fan with the soft lyrics was a challenge we found interesting. I had to find ways to be soft in my dance while keeping the rhythm going. Holding both sharp and soft in my body simultaneously AND listening to her expression was my goal. Here there is some nice listening going on. It became a duet in this take.