Tuesday, February 26, 2013

So, What is "Ah! That's my dance body!" all about?

Well. . . 
 "Ah! That's My Dance Body!" 

A few friends requested that I write a little something about the origins of Megill & Company's newest dance theater work, called "Ah! That's My Dance Body!", so this blog entry is for them and others who are interested in learning more about where this whole Dance Body idea came from!

Unfortunately, I can't take credit for the idea of a "Dance Body."  This came from two MeCo members.  Elyse and Nathan, who took a challenging ballet class together in college and managed their way through the rigorous semester by justifying their overwhelmingly uncomfortable  experience by blaming their "Dance Bodies". 

For instance:

"I don't know what happened to my Dance Body today! It must be tired"
"I can't pirouette today, because I forgot my Dance body at home."

"Look at that girl's Dance Body! She's like a robot dance machine."
"Why doesn't my Dance Body look like that?"

So, a Dance Body started as a coping mechanism.  Because, let's be honest, it sucks  for a dancers to struggle in a dance class. It's like saying "Here is the one thing you love more than anything in the world, and you will never be good enough at it!).  Madness!  A dancer is continually faced with the unattainable hope for perfection.   And, rather than get down on yourself, it is a heck of a lot easier to blame it on your "Dance Body," or lack there of!

Thus, a Dance Body was born!

So, in true MeCo fashion, Nathan and Elyse shared their Dance Body findings in rehearsal, and I jumped at the idea to create a piece highlighting the concept in a satirical dance-theater work.  Of course!  That's what I do!

Here is a great rehearsal pic of Nathan and Elyse "trying out their dance bodies" in the show. 

The craziest part about the show is that as brutal as the "Mrs. Doctor-Professor of Dance" character is in the our show (played by me in a lab coat *sexy!*), she really says nothing that hasn't been said to a real dancer at some point. For instance: the diet of carrots, caffeine and cigarettes is all too real in the dance world where the (in my opinion mistakenly) ideal body shape is a job requirement. 

In our current world where dance and competition are virtually synonymous (aka So You Think You Can Dance) being a dancer is not easy.  Dancers and dance teachers SAY we should dance like no one is watching, but in fact dancers are glued to their mirror images all day long. Perhaps, no one else may be watching, but they are. . . And criticizing (and often berating) themselves as they are prone to do.  The dance world is now completely segregated, Dance Bodies and Non-Dance Bodies.  And, 95% of us are on the wrong side.

But being a dance body isn't just about how one looks, it is about the dancer's flexibility, coordination and athleticism.  The lack of any one of which can destroy a dancer's self esteem and hopes for a professional future in dance. 

Since when did dance become a privilege?  Dance began as a social tool, like the other performing arts and folk traditions, intended for everyone in the community to practice as a means of supporting the network of the social fabric. However, now, even "social" and ballroom dance has turned commercial in its competition (Dancing with the Stars). 

I believe, Dance can be for everyBODY! But, in order for that to happen, the dance world needs to change its tune.  What are we dancing for? A medal? Applause? Approval?  Acceptance?

When we return to dancing for the health of our human spirit, as a celebration of our imperfections and humanity, then we will have succeeded.  Because, Megill & Company doesn't see a line between the dancer in the studio and the dancer in the club.  We only see dance and the joy found through human movement and soulful expression. 

So, that is really what  "Ah! That's My Dance Body!"  is all about. 

Changing the world one dance at a time.  And, getting a laugh while your at it makes it extra sweet.

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