Myself When I Am Real

At 21, I created a solo to Charles Mingus’ score, “Myself When I Am Real.” This morning, my husband played the record knowing it remains close to me, perhaps sensing the nostalgia might bring me comfort in this annual season of personal grief.

At 21, I felt the depth of the dance depended on the depth of the musical composition. I returned to Mingus time and time again, and have continued over the years.

In my early 30s, I made dances with story and identity in mind and have continued over the years.

At 40, the dances are about experience but experience is also calling me into inquiry -doubt, examination, revelation, reflection and the like-of my understanding of dance, and my needs of it. The contexts. The purposes of moving.  The relationship to audience and participant. The label of dance to meaningful and intentional movement as a vehicle or a distraction. The weight and the strength of humanity in motion. How I want this to appear in my life and specifically, my work.

For me, the dance no longer only exists solely for performance on stage, in-studio, but in witness of being, no matter the reason or venue. Acknowledgement of presence in teaching, in moving, in living. These days, I occassionally find myself wondering if I am interested in making dances again. Not dances for students, but dances for me. For inquiry. For knowing. That feels surprising, tentative, and curious. Maybe confusing.

I am watching and reading about others’ metaphoric dances- their journeys, calling into their inquiry (or not) the choices which have made or unmade their lives. I am aware of the perspectives others share from their vantage points- judgement and critique is so easy and covers up so much, or so it seems. It doesn’t, to those willing to look and see and respond. What is my role in those interactions and transactions?

Every season offers the inquiry of “myself when I am real”. It is an evolving practice. The challenge comes in organizing a life- a career and relationships- in which the realness carries you through and earns you a living. What is the most efficient way of not getting wrapped up in the distractions of noise and the illusions of people?

Every dance offers the inquiry of what it means to be real- not in the training of the dancer, but the authenticity of the movement- where the truth comes from the body and through the movement, where motion is clearly generations-old, and the soul is cast beyond the soma for all to connect with, not just see. The challenge is coaching movers to admit their realness, to live in it physically and experientially. People are hiding in their physical actions, their  habits, their silent quests for approval. Inhibiting examination, honesty, and growth. It is hard for me to understand. It impedes progress.

Weight and strength. Waiting  for the weight and strength of realness. I am waiting desperately to see people act with weight and strength of realness so I may feed on it and take it back into the world of every day folk, and so each of us knows we are not alone.

Stop hiding. We want to accompany you in your realness. We hope you’ll do the same for us. What might connection be like, really?