Everywhere A Road to Take

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“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

– George Harrison, “Any Road,”

inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

 

Personally, this quote has always meant a great deal to me, not only because I inherited from my music-loving father his preference of George Harrison above the other Beatles, but also because it really speaks to me. It is more than just a song lyric, but a motto for life.

College spans four critical years of a young person’s life, a self-formational time filled with difficult questions and the often-stifling inability to answer them. At this juncture in my development into a “real person,” people constantly ask me what I plan to major in, what career I want to pursue, where I see myself post-graduation, etc. It seems like the need to plan is inescapable; I can’t even schedule my day without thinking about when and what I’ll eat. (Well, maybe that’s a personal struggle, but I digress…)

Point being, we live in a tomorrow-centric world, often causing us to forget about right now. Really, right now is all that matters because this moment holds infinite possibilities. Right now, I can choose to walk away from this entry and never look back—Screw it, I can say, (Saar Harari might even use stronger language for the concept of abandoning a plan) and forget all the plans I’ve ever made, whether to become an English major or to have grilled chicken for dinner.

Carpe momentum. Seize the moment. No plans, no predictions, no schedule. No pre-meditation, no artful anticipation, no built-up motivation. That is the spirit of Gaga.

I was drawn to Gaga for its adherence to this mantra of availability: letting whatever wants to happen in that moment happen and being open to anything. Much of the movement is generated through improvisation, in which the dancer does not follow the typical process of inventing a motion then figuring out how to adapt her body to move in that way. Instead, the movement comes from the internal engines and the body moves however the impulse inclines it.

Ohad Naharin describes how “the letting go, the yielding, is an important concept in Gaga. It is not about collapse or relaxing but about turning to where we block the flow of energy, where we are holding ourselves and do not allow our joints to be available for movement so that our movement becomes stiff instead of soft.”[1]

Gaga is all about eliminating limitations and “giving more” to the movement. Whenever we feel a blockage or a stiffness, we need to get back in touch with our engines, especially our lena, and move energy through that area, leaving it “available” for motion and the transfer of energy.

Saar Harari often reminds us to maintain our “ball movement availability.” We have to release all tension in our joints and places where body parts connect in order to facilitate any motion that wants to manifest itself there. This frees us to move in all directions, reaching into space and engaging with it.

Availability is essential because it allows communication, both within a dancer and with other dancers around her. Openness and freedom of motion within the body clear the channels that carry impulses throughout the body from the various engines.

Energy flows through the body and expands outward into the space around the dancer. This impulse can then travel to other dancers, facilitating the process of “giving and receiving,” which Saar Harari cites while we improvise in class. We have to be available to take the stimuli we receive from others’ movements and internalize them, at the same time as we give something to them as we move.

Availability, the possibility of doing anything in the moment, giving in to whatever wants to happen, gives Gaga its refreshing spontaneity. No one knows what will happen—what movement will spontaneously generate from the dancers’ bodies, either individually or considered together—so dancers are always attentive so as not to miss what is occurring among them.

Saar Harari tells us to “stay alive” and present in the space so we stay in tune with the energy flow. We cannot lose focus and daydream about the past or future because none of that matters. What matters is happening right now, and we need to be there to feel it and take it onward. We need to be available to take all roads, because any and all lead to where we want to go, if we let them guide us.

 

[1] Naharin, Ohad. A Toolbox for Dancers. Interview. Tanz Raum Berlin, October 2015.

 

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