Tradition, Performance, and the Space In Between

In my teaching and in the philosophies that guide my work in healthcare, I have moved in thoughtful response to tradition, all the while heading in directions that deviate from the norm.

In my personal life, I find myself moving toward tradition in a familial way- in thoughtful, emotional response to the lands and people that make up my heritage. The holidays, and the stealing of time to acknowledge these practices, connect me to a community of people with whom I am related and yet didn’t necessarily know, along with those that are not family and yet have helped me reclaim my English roots by teaching me skills to better my practices.

I cook and I knit. There was a stretch of my life during which no one would have ever expected either of these things to be true. Ever.

Yet, here we are. At home on a Sunday, my greatest indulgences come in the form of walking the dog across any field I can find, cooking Sunday dinner, and knitting  while the kids do homework or play nearby. I find it funny that these tasks of necessity for the family members of yester-year are now the indulgences of my life. Practice becomes a performative habit rather than a mere act of practicality.

I enjoy the history and legacy involved in knitting just as I enjoy these aspects of yoga. The connection of breath to action is now a trend engaging all types of people from all types of professions and traditions. Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about what it is about yoga that has people flocking to studios.

I have been thinking about how the practice of yoga for some is the ritual and routine of movement, and yet for others it is about the execution of such feats- the performance based sensation that accompanies the unification of breath to action that results in a presence that transcends time and place.

I know the feeling well- I have spent my life chasing it as a dancer.

It is less about the audience of the public as it is the audience of the self- attending to one’s ability, skill, and self assertion into present time and place. It becomes meditative. It can become addicting.

It makes me wonder- is yoga the new dance? Or is yoga what dance could be, if dance were more socially-acceptable?

Is yoga the secret mainstream movement strategy that allows us to find the most sacred aspects of performance without the emotional and bodily damage of dance technique? (I know yoga can be pretty competitive and performance-type injuries are on the rise, but go with me here…..)

What can dance learn from yoga? What could happen if we teach the non-technical aspects of dance (improvisation, composition, theory) to the general public?

Would it result in the downfall of dance? I don’t think so. It might just be the key to developing practitioners and audiences alike.

Ask me how I am doing this and how I can help you.

Until then- I am making roast tonight and am on section II of Andrea Mowry’sBriochealicious“. Brioche has been a form of meditation, allowing me space to think and opportunities to decide if I shall quit or try again. As it turns out, I am addicted.