we must name our dance teachers

Standard

the dreams of the native
fanon says
are always dreams of muscular prowess
dreams
he says again
are encouraged
and black girl dreams of grace and sublime reckoning beauty
are deflated not deferred  
after beige flesh colored patches 
on costumes
on black skin

 

i barely call myself
a dancer
but
renee and matthew were my first dance teachers with brown skin
they are of course
so much more
than that
but
renee and matthew were my first dance teachers with brown skin
because black life
where i am from
has but a few institutions
and really
no institutions parallel alvin ailey american dance theater 
and call black dreams to shed beige flesh on white stages
black hearts to set their feet on the ground knowing
bodies are 
organized
breathing
blood memories
in montreal
what bodies
know how
marie-thérèse zémire marie-charles mcgill marie-josèphe angélique
moved à montréal
knowing
white flesh covering blood history sounds like
“je me souviens”

 

i barely call myself
a dancer
but
something of a born-again-come-to-jesus-
exultation
came with modern
into a studio where we danced facing not mirrors but
floor-to-ceiling-wall-to-wall-windows
facing the lachine canal
(not far surely from where on the morning of august 5
1689
mohawk warriors rose to set fire to french settlements)
modern dance
where I stayed
meant drums
but mostly
it meant that
when the heart reached towards heaven
the head no longer turned away

 

i barely call myself
a dancer
but
“we must name our dance teachers”
was elizabeth alexander’s injunction
i name
the eyes that returned to the studio
to repeat
as though
in a lab a field a court a club
an experiment with exhilaration
with time with timing with gravity
with metaphors
with repetition
of layered shapes
and breaths
of flesh marked with
an incontrovertible drive for rigor, rhythm, beauty, and abandon
i carry with me
linda marchand
michelle raimbert
benny dryer
nathalie huot
amanda chicoine