Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blood, Sweat, and Tears: A Panegyric

This post is dedicated to some of the hardest-working people I know and some of my dearest friends: my fellow dancers.  Yes, we are amateurs, but we are also passionate about ballet, and particularly during rehearsal season it often feels as if we live at the studio.  From the days when you feel light as a feather, to the evenings you can hardly move, to the nights when you've danced so long that your brain starts bouncing around like a drunken circus spend it all with the same people, and in the end they come to know you in a way few other people can.  There is a bond which grows when you've sweated and laughed and cried and bled side by side with someone.  For me, I always feel that with those people I hold no secrets.  I mean, there may be details about events in my life they don't know about, but of myself, my intrinsic me-ness, there is nothing hidden.  They've seen me at my worst and at my best.  My friend Jocelyn and I used to say that you had to be yourself in class because it is impossible to hide anything under those clothes.  I believe that statement began in a physical sense, in reference to some people's use of padding on certain parts of the anatomy, but it works in the psychological sense as well. :-)

Martha Graham said that "movement never lies" and I've found that to be true.  You can lie to yourself and others, but it is your body that gives you away.  Everybody can feel this, in a blush, in goosebumps, in hands that shake when the mind is gripped by fear.  In a dancer this is magnified.  You cannot sit on your hands to hide the shaking.  You must use your hands, your arms, your legs, every part of you, and in doing so you bare your soul to the audience. If you try to hide it, half your energy will be spent in the hiding and much of the beauty will be lost.

After a time you just love it.  Sometimes you can't remember why, but you don't want to be anywhere else.  And there is always that moment.  The dance is finished, your heart is racing, you've completed the last step, and there is a moment of silence before the audience begins to applaud.  All the best parts of living are contained in that moment.  You've fought, you've sacrificed, and now you've won.

So I would like to raise a glass to some amazing fellow dancers, past and present, and to our incredible (and incredibly demanding) teacher, Ann Marie Benedict.  Here's to another year of striving for an unachievable perfection; another year of blood, sweat, and tears; another year of camaraderie and laughter.  Here's to life, and dance.

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