The Shape of a Room — introduction

July 9, 2013

I’m almost finished with the photo essay about dance rehearsal. The online magazine that kindly agreed to publish this is patiently waiting—I am about two weeks late—and will probably post only an eighth of what I turn in.

Below is the start of my general introduction.

In 2011 and 2012, when various personal upheavals—some good, some not so good—were overwhelming me, dance kept me properly occupied. I was moving house for the first time in fourteen years; I said goodbye to several loves; I got a tattoo that seemed too big for my arm; I watched my family mourn the death of my grandfather. To maintain emotional equilibrium, I decided I would pretend to be a dancer. I took classes nearly every day. I learned which genres sank into my body the most. I learned about contact improvisation. I learned how to do a double pirouette. I learned how to both relax and contract my muscles while up on relevé. I learned how to pay attention to and absorb physical musicality, my own and others’, and learned how to interpret it for future classes, for future exercises, for the future.

One summer night, when my body was at its most limber, I danced in the subway car with my eyes shut. When I opened them, a stranger was standing before me. He told me he liked the way I danced. I thanked him, and then it was our stop. Though I’d been aware of an audience—him in particular—I danced with the idea that the real performance, my moment of truth, or comeuppance, was a long way off. For two years I danced in order to warm myself up for whatever was to arrive. That is, for two years I was in a state of constant rehearsal.

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One Response to “The Shape of a Room — introduction”

  1. Chandra Wohleber Says:

    I can never remember my password for commenting on blogs and such, so I’ll just comment in the old-fashioned way. This is a wonderful intro. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the piece — and I hope the magazine publishes more than an eighth of it! — cw

    Date: Tue, 9 Jul 2013 18:13:11 +0000 To: cwohleber@hotmail.com


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