Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Review

Tonight I hope to sleep. Jaw much relaxed and throat feeling better. Coincidence? Or is it because my voice took the risk here in this blog? Either way, tomorrow is a big day because it is the day Backstage will come out with Neal Weaver's review of my show "8 Piece Legs and Thighs" from the Hollywood Fringe.

Of course, this prompts me to respond to the review before I see it (perhaps a practice most artists should uphold), so I can make my statement about the nature of art and critique without being shaded by whatever Mr. Weaver says. You see, now that I have, for the moment, come to terms with my dance and art making, I now am forced to explain my view on the relationship between my work and the audience/ critic before I actually have to face the review of my audience and critique of Mr. Weaver.

I admittedly do this because, I know that I am not impervious to criticism and tomorrow may have a much different tone despite my budding buddhist desires of detachment and equanimity. (I am still a dancer after all-- emotional by nature I think).

I want to make dances that are accessible, entertaining, thought provoking, charming, and insightful. Now, is that too much to ask? I don't think so. Therefore, as an audience member I naturally want Herr Weaver to respond in kind. Of course, his opinion counts because he is an audience member. But let's face the facts, he will influence others with his words whether good or bad. In general I do want my work to reach a large audience because I feel that I represent a untapped niche in the dance theater world and hope those who see it will be so moved to see more. So, of course I want a good review.

If I want my voice heard I want people to feel like it and further share the art and the ideas behind the art with those around them. Basically, I don't want to make dance in a vacuum (too windy and small).

I got a lovely response to my opening blog from a friend and fellow poetess Maggie Westland. She shared her following poems with me that address some of these issues beautifully.


To create a future
That had not been there
But for my framing of it

To leave a path
Of futures
For those
Who follow.

- Maggie Westland

Has she been reading my mind? Perhaps.

The key here is that I am still fragile, and while a poor review will not stop be from making me work, it will stop and make me rethink my work. And, it is a blessing to receive feedback from an unattached observer. But, I can't have my work depend on the feedback, nor (due to my own aesthetic goals) be overtly disliked. Because, then I would have failed in my mission of being one or more of the following things I set out to be: accessible, entertaining, thought provoking, charming, and insightful. Well, I guess he could hate it and it still be successfully though provoking. But, I want dance to illicit joy and if not joy, reflection and growth that is not angst ridden, but a spiritual unfolding.

I don't subscribe to the dance of outrageous physical demands, virtuosity and flooded emotions of aggression or confrontation. Nor do I make work that is apathetic, detached and purely movement just for the hell of it. I want to tell stories, and I want to share lessons and reflections of the world that can prompt those who see it to continue on their path of personal growth and development. Dance is thus like a meditation rather than a sporting match. Dance can thus be an anchor and catapult into self reflection.

I will end with two more of Maggie's lovely poems. Thank you Maggie for sharing them so generously.


I want to be

I want to do
What my heart sings
Unleashing feelings
Wearing colors

I want to have

- Maggie Westland

And, this last one with imagery so perfect for the dancer and dance maker.


Where am I on my journey?
Near the end of one
On my way to the next
Always transiting,
Verbs of action
Into multiple futures
Calling me to sea
Listening to waves
Erasing the sand sounds
Into the eternal know.
It’s fun
Riding down
Or up.
The move itself
Is what matters….
- Maggie Westland

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