Reflections on a Visit


What I’d like to hone in on for a moment is Sara Rudner’s visit. First of all, when Emily told us that she’d be coming, I nearly wet my pants I was so excited. This woman – who has been referred to as “the greatest dancer in the world” (here) by the New York Times is a personal hero of mine – her simultaneous embodiment of class and sass in Eight Jelly Rolls has won Sara a permanent place in my heart, that’s for certain.

A couple of random thoughts:

-Who ever knew walking could be so complicated?! How do you make sense out of – relax, release your pelvis, walk normally, swish your hips, relax your shoulders – all at the same time? Why is looking cool so freaking hard?! As a dancer, I really like to pat myself on the back sometimes and congratulate myself on my own superb physical and spacial awareness. And then I meet someone like Sara, who gives you a firm, metaphorical kick in the rear end, forcibly removing you from the High Horse and reminding you that, actually, you look pretty spastic right now, and you’re only walking.

-Sara Rudner: “This dance isn’t a solo. It’s a duet with the music.” Awesome Awesome AWESOME. Sara Rudner, please tell me you have more nuggets of wisdom like that up your sleeve. What an awesome way of thinking about it. Actually, the first time I started listening to the music (and before I put it together that it was Jelly Roll Morton), there was something about it that felt really natural about it. I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but it just made everything seem kind of right with the world. And then, when it dawned on me that Eight Jelly Rolls = Jelly Roll Morton = New Orleans, LA, it made a lot more sense why the music sounded so familiar. (I myself hail from the NOLA). And then I got to wondering what that solo would be like if it were performed with a live band, and how/if that would affect the musicians. I would imagine in that case there’s a lot more mutual energy-sharing that goes on.

Oh! And another thing. Something that I have found really fascinating throughout this whole process is how movement—something visual—is consistently described with vocabulary traditionally associated with sound. And to think of your body as an instrument “playing” with the other instruments is completely bizarre and awesome. Hm. I’ll have to think about that some more.

-Also, my favorite moment was when Sara started improving and totally got in the zone. It was funny, because she was sort of working through it, and then suddenly – the look in her eyes just totally changed and you could see something click. And it was so crazy to see her do the solo now, because even though her physical accidents are older now (accidents as in the features about you that aren’t intrinsic to your being, like eye or hair color), the dancing revealed something very essential about her that was revealed in her movement.

By the way, what does it mean to have a “look” in your eye? It can’t mean expression, because the expression comes from the muscles in your face. And to the best of my knowledge, eyes are generally the things doing the looking. Or when we talk about someone having a “look” it usually refers to their trendy habiliments. Hm. That’s kind of confusing. But there was definitely an intensity of focus in her eyes. It’s funny how we pick up on things like that – but I would love it if someone could explain to me what that actually means…

I don’t know if anyone else felt like this, but my perception of time was totally manipulated while watching her dance. (The mark of a successful performance!) While I was watching her, it was as if time had stood still. And when she finished, I had this moment where I felt like I had been standing there for either hours or seconds. Really weird. And since one of my favorite things to read about is how people conceive of time, here’s a little gem from Plato’s Timaeus for you:

“Now it was the Living Thing’s nature to be eternal, but it isn’t possible to bestow eternity fully upon anything that is begotten. And so he began to think of making a moving image of eternity: at the same time as he brought order to the universe, he would make an eternal image, moving according to number, of eternity remaining in unity. This number, of course, is what we now call ‘time.’” (37d)

A moving image of eternity!!! Isn’t that awesome? I don’t think that human beings were made to exist in time as we know it, which might explain why we can never really get a handle on it. (This week is going by slowly! Or maybe, I can’t believe how fast this year has gone by!) And also maybe speaks to why some of our loveliest moments are ones where we aren’t aware of the passage of time. Anyway, watching Sara dance was definitely one of those really delightful moments where your awareness of everything just dissolves.

I could say more about her visit, but I think those were the highlights. It was really wonderful to have her here. But before I can really aspire to Sara’s sass and class in her solo, I think first I’ll have to work on my walking issues and incontinence problems.