I grew up dancing classical cecchetti method ballet, intensively training and performing from 5 to 19 years old. I was privileged to experience the rigours and excitements of touring from a young age and had the opportunity to dance with dancers from The National Ballet of Canada and from New York City companies. Although ballet ceased to be the language with which I chose to articulate my lived experiences, the discipline informs my movement practice and, in a more general sense, I have never lost my love, nor indeed my need, for dance.
Above is the polite bio, short, to the point, and devoid of the true content that is my experience with dance. In reality I feel like I can map the development of my interior landscape and my ways of giving and receiving life through my engagement with dance.
For years, long after I stopped dancing ballet, I only danced in the dark where no one could see me. My movement explorations were a brutal form of self-torture where I would throw myself mercilessly to the ground over and over. This repetition of falling and recovering only enough to fall again was the iconic image expression of my inner landscape. I still sometimes enjoy the feeling of extreme exertion, when I have worked myself so hard that it feels like my internal organs have shifted and I feel slightly nauseous for days.
Eventually I took my dancing out of the dark and for very practical reasons, namely that I didn’t have money to rent a studio space, I took it to parks and parking lots. For years I battled my demons, articulated my hopes and fears, and grappled with my savage humanity in public spaces throughout the city. I chose places with little foot traffic, which sometimes meant there were ‘lots of cars passing by because people don’t generally relax near traffic. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there was a need to be witnessed in some way, even if only for a brief moment.
Even though it takes a particular kind of brazeness to defy social convention in public spaces, I am somewhat surprised that more people don’t throw caution to the wind and dance in the streets more often. I especially feel this way now that my dancing has transformed from an embodied expression of despair, loss, confusion and impatience into something that is also sensual and pleasurable and joyful. It took a lot of dancing past the point of exhaustion before a space opened up inside me and I could smile and enjoy myself and my body and even have fun doing so. The world seemed to become a better place and I’m not entirely sure if it was dancing that transformed my life or if my life changed and my dancing reflected a much worked for and gradual personal metamorphasis. What I do know is that my dancing shifted and I started feeling satiated and uplifted by my practice.
Now my practice has shifted mainly back into the studio where I can explore the new and ever evolving dynamics of physical impulse expression.