How do you access your mother tongue when you have an injury? What if your mother tongue is moving, all the time nonstop as much as possible, and you are required for the sake of your injury to sit still? What level of frustration is useful? What level of challenge is safe? What do you do to not go insane? All questions I am asking myself.
Most of UBW class is geared towards safe strengthening, shoring up our bodies so that they can withstand the challenges we throw at them. It is also geared towards learning at which angle to approach challenges so that they remain challenges and do not become landmines – an opportunity for growth, not an accidental self destruction. For the most part, the line between ‘getting stronger’ and ‘reckless endangerment’ is quite clear, and the risks associated with the latter are incentive enough to keep us on one side of the line. For me though, there are many risks I do not take in the (conscious or unconscious) name of self preservation: falling all the way, for example. Letting go completely. Opening all the way up. Stretching beyond what I think is possible. This kind of self protection is limiting in some ways, and it is definitely something I’ve been working through during this project – just how much of myself am I trying to leae on the stage with the audience?All? If the desired answer is ‘all’ then maybe a reason I close up is because I don’t trust myself to push further/let go completely and still keep myself safe. Do I always need to be guarded about where I push myself and how? Is that a feasible or fruitful path towards improvement? Or do I need more practice approaching challenges healthily or sustainably, so that when it is time to leave it all out on the floor, I can let go and my body will know where (and where not) to go?
I’m on an airplane right now and I’m thinking about Amanda’s question, of how to care for the body while in transit, or while working over a computer. I’m partly relieved that right now my movement limitations are not self-imposed, and that I don’t have to sit still and watch while others move around. But I’m partly going insane because I can’t sit still and being up in the air in a metal box moving at high speed does not particularly help me remain calm in the face of restricted mobility. Part of the way I’m following Amanda’s vein of thinking is physical – small ankle circles, breathing exercises, giving some love to my neck and my jaw – and some of it is in between physical and mental: writing this post. I’m using this writing to do some deep thinking about my body memories from rehearsal and my current state, picturing and feeling my current body in the memories from rehearsal. It keeps my movement-self active while it otherwise would feel trapped. Even thinking about dancing does wonders for cabin fever.
Speaking of the positive influences of dancing, movement, and physical activity, here is a belated treatise on the idiocy of a recent YDN op-ed, one that asserted Yale should stop offering admissions slots to athletes basically because they are not “qualified” to be here. Among the MANY discouraging and frankly immature aspects of the article, there is one particular glaring yikes for those of us in the dance community: the author, making an argument for the intellectual integrity of Yale’s student body, has entirely overlooked the fact that there is more than one way to be “smart.” Body knowledge is once again dismissed, and relegated to the bottom of the intellectual ladder. The author privileges book smarts, traditional academic acumen, and, implicitly, artistic talent over physical intelligence. Students who possess incredible body knowledge are apparently less deserving of the title “smart” or of the title “Yalie.” This has major repercussions for the dance community on campus, which though operating under a different administrative framework than Yale athletics, relies on the physical intelligence of its members, regardless of their training or ‘dance’ experience, for the richness and depth of its academic inquiries. If you say athletes don’t belong at Yale, then you also say dance isn’t a valid academic pursuit, and you would be wrong on both accounts. The author clearly has taken no time to consider the agency and intelligence his own body possesses, otherwise he would not be making claims about Yale’s mission (as he imagines it), to further intellectual growth among its students, deteriorating with the recognition of body knowledge as a legitimate form of intellect and the inclusion of physical geniuses. Absurd.