I've been mentioning my history as a dancer this month and when I found some old photos of myself dancing I asked my dear boyfriend to scan them so I could share them with you...
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Artful Dancing with Spontaneous Abandon!
Many years ago I was taking a class of modern dance with an instructor named Sylvia H. Goulden* who was a dancer with an amazing local dance group called "FreeFlight Dancers". They would perform at the Brand Library in the art galleries and do improvisational dance to interpret selected pieces of the art on display. How awesome is that!!
They had stopped performing by the time I was studying dance with Sylvia but she would talk about the performances and I was thrilled to hear the stories...
The opportunity to do this type of dance came along when a special event was being held to honor one of Sylvia's art instructors who had passed away. His name was Alex Vilumsons and his artwork would be on display for a special retrospective exhibit and I was asked to join with a few dancers from FreeFlight Dancers to perform in the gallery with the beautiful artwork. Naturally, I said YES!
Dancing with Art - could anything be better??!?
One of the things I loved about this experience is that I had the opportunity to do improvisational dance, which is something I love - to make up dance movements in the moment. Working with the FreeFlight dancers was similar to the way Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the improv artists in "Blink" - you follow rules of engagement to create successful spontaneity. We would work with music and create some wonderful key moments to hit at specific times and leave room to create something fresh in the moment during the rest of the performance...
In the book "Blink", Mr. Gladwell wrote** of the improv artists that the biggest rule is to accept everything that happens to you to develop action. He also writes that many of us are very good at SUPPRESSING ACTION and this made me think of the struggle many of us face...
I think that the aspect of suppressing action (which is really another form of FEAR, in my belief) is why many of us artists struggle so much as we journey to become more fully ourselves. I'm not always good at accepting everything that happens to me, but maybe if I can remember that Life is a Dance, that I can choose to improvise in every moment, it may make life easier...and it may even lead to some really beautiful outcomes...
This was how we ended our performance. It looks like a living sculpture - totally improvised and absolutely breathtaking for our audience!
I've been reading a great book titled "Throw Out Fifty Things" by Gail Blanke and in one chapter she talks about listing your "Defining Moments":
"A defining moment is when you found something in yourself you didn't know you had, or forgot you had, and pulled it out. And as a result, you changed an outcome from negative to positive"***
I've always considered this dance event to be one of the highlights in my dance 'career' and I can say it was a defining moment because it was juxtaposed with another event happening simultaneously:
My brother was moving out of our shared apartment and he did not tell me he was moving...****
After he left, I had two weeks to make a decision whether or not to find a roommate or to take on the task of paying rent on a two-bedroom rent-controlled apartment alone and I had to make the decision quickly...
I chose to go it alone and I've been improvising ever since!
The idea of listing your defining moments is to look at those moments and draw upon them for strength so you can move forward in your life. I'll be working on my list and sharing it here from time to time. I'm sure you have defining moments where you turned a negative into a positive! We all have such moments and often forget about them...
What are YOUR defining moments? I'd love to hear about them!
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Be sure to stop by this blog post for your chance to win my knitting themed giveaway - I'll announce a winner on Monday!
Today is the last day to sign up for the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap - GO HERE to sign up and join the fun!
* - Sylvia was also a painter and a Wise Woman
** - Chapter 4, page 114
*** - Chapter 22, pg. 223
**** - this brother is now known among my friends as the "Evil Brother" and before you ask - he was 29 years old when he took this action. He was old enough to know better!