Changing It Up: Dancing Conversations About Art

I’m trying something new.  New to me, anyway.

A talented, adventuresome dance colleague, Bo Parish, and I will soon be performing at a lovely art gallery, dancing vignettes inspired by the current exhibition.  The vignettes will be loosely structured improvisations. After each short piece we will articulate briefly what our inspirations were from each piece of art work that we’ve used as springboards to generate movement.

Next up: the super fun part!  We will ask audience members to stroll through the gallery again and select a work of art for us to dance.  We will elicit a few suggestions for what folks would like to see us evoke or request people to point out what excited them or drew them to their chosen works.

And then we will create a short dance.  Followed by conversation.

Am I excited about this? Absolutely!  Am I also anxious? Absolutely!

After all, so many things could go awry with so many variables up in the air.  Thinking about all of this today, I had to smile at the fact that I helped create this format that is fundamentally based on improvisation; I, who for years, detested and feared improvisation.

But as I’ve written about before, I’ve come to realize and appreciate how pretty much everything in life is improvisation.  If we look at our days, we are constantly making it up as we go–in everything from mundane movements to major life choices.

Even if we try, we cannot replicate things exactly.  Or: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  Thank you, Heraclitus.

While I’m not sure I will ever love dance improvisation more than rehearsing and performing choreographed pieces, I do know that the more I practice improvising dance, the more comfortable and proficient I become with it.  Which at times carries over into other improvised experiences. Like life :).

This practice allows me now to engage in kinetic conversations that I wouldn’t otherwise have the privilege of.  As in this upcoming performance.  This practice helps  me to stay present, so I can be effective in the moment.  In performance, yes, and also beyond.

Sure, the notion of control possesses a powerful allure.  But we all know that control is inherently illusory. Things go awry all the time, regardless of the plan, itinerary, rules, dogma.  When we loosen our grip on the reins, we allow possibility to breathe all kinds of exciting things into being.

So, right now I am totally stoked to engage in some conversations–verbal and kinetic–about other artists’ art, about creativity, about movement.  Bobbing and weaving as we all move along together.

And we’re off!


Photo credit: Susan Parish


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