Still Dancing

Back in the dance studio after an unsought break, I had this sudden, overwhelming physical sensation of coming home. Reminding me of Mary Oliver’s rhapsodic counsel in “Wild Geese”: “You do not have to be good…You only have to let the soft animal of your body/ love what it loves….” Reminding me that for the artist, the art chooses you, calls to you…relentlessly…and not you to it….

Sirena Tales

In Dani Shapiro’s marvelous “Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life,” she shares a classic anecdote in an artist’s life.  Her friend, who is a notable sculptor, is asked at a dinner party “…if I was still doing the sculpture thing.” Shapiro laughs empathetically, and he continues ruefully “…How was I supposed to respond? Are you still doing the brain surgery thing?” (p.225)

Shapiro muses about this question that is posed constantly to countless artists, from the famous and acclaimed to the unknowns, a question that implies that our art is a whim or a phase, something that will be cast aside when the next shiny thing catches our eye. Or in Shapiro’s word, “outgrown.”

As a dancer, I recognize that people may have more of an excuse to ask this question, that is admittedly probably well-intentioned.  After all, dancing and the passage of time take their…

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