One of the things that has delighted me most over the past year is people’s willingness to play with me on this project. As you can tell from the photos, we spent a good deal of our afternoons swimming in the river. It gets so hot in Three Rivers in the summertime that there is no other alternative really. Jalene and I had about twenty minutes this morning to create a little final dance and so we immersed ourselves in the incredibly revitalizing cold water and came up with this. I can’t think of a better closing ritual for my time here in Three Rivers. It was the perfect punctuation for the whole magical week.
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.
Gary Cort is just a gem. Every year he lets me come and do my workshop in his gallery and offers only the lightest touch of his wisdom as an artist and architect. If you ask me, which oddly no one ever does, he and his gallery are the renegade heart of the town – the mother ship of awakening bringing drum circles and artistic conversation to a sleepy somewhat conservative town. Of course I knew I would try to get him to dance with me for the blog, but I thought I might have to sort of trick him into it. I was totally floored when he jumped at the chance. I was working in the studio all morning and he came in to chat. I think maybe he even suggested it. Anyhow, here we are goofing around. Isn’t he brilliant? And I love the part in the end where Jalene shows up. She just happened to be dropping by. Small towns. Sigh. They really are just that chill.
There are many things I love about coming to Three Rivers every year: the warm awesome people, the refreshing Kaweah river, the proximity of the grand Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks (some of the most beautiful nature in the world!), but what makes it really special is the Cort Gallery where I hold my workshops. The Cort Gallery, set on the main strip of Three Rivers, was built and designed by Gary Cort, an artist and architect who still lives there. It is a magical place featuring a lily pond, a large art gallery/dance studio, a tower (you can imagine where Aleister spends his time) and many different outdoor/indoor living and sleeping spaces. This year we actually slept there for the duration of our stay in Three Rivers and I lived in my own fantasy the whole time – a real little artist in residence. In the mornings I would wake up and make dances on the vine covered deck (like the one featured here) with the bullfrogs as my burping chorus and spend the rest of the morning in the spacious studio with the Gary’s inspiring artwork surrounding me. This little gem was done early in the morning before anyone was awake. One of my favorite times of day:
Sometimes you should just stop while you’re ahead. But sometimes, a little corner calls to you and the lighting is just right and you think, “I’m going to dance and see what comes up.” This was one of those times. In retrospect, I think that everything is valuable. Movement, when allowed to flow freely, can speak to something deep inside that is unexpressed. Whether or not it is valuable as “art” is another subject altogether. This 365 project is all about letting go of that judgment and just seeing where my interest leads me. Hmmm…. Perhaps next year I may spend another 365days working on how to actually put those ideas together and sift through them to get to the really good stuff. Well, I certainly said a lot to warn you without actually warning you didn’t I?
Jalene is a dancer, and Pilates and yoga instructor in Three Rivers and one of the key people who brought me there for the workshop this year. Incredibly playful and positive and just a treat to be around, she was totally open to doing a few dances for my blog. This is a video from the first day – an exercise we worked on together. It felt right to divide the dance into two parts. Enjoy!
I’m off! I’m off to Three Rivers to teach this new workshop, Dancing Beyond Borders. I’m excited because I have often included somatic exercises and meditation practices into my dance classes, but this will be the first time I advertise it as such. It will be interesting to see who it will attract. I’m really looking forward to this new workshop because it is the culmination of many years of inquiry and practice in movement, creativity, and manifesting. Maybe next year, you’ll join me?