Friday, March 22, 2013

Last Birthday in my Year to Live

Yes! I am 33!

And, I am still working through my Year to Live reflective practice loosely based on Stephen Levine's book.  

I am roughly on day 186.  Officially at the half way point week. And, it just so happens it is also my birthday.  Yikes.  That is a lot to take in.  

So, I asked myself what I want to do for my "last" birthday, and I decided I want to make a dance for myself.  A solo made for me right here and now, reflective of this time and place in my life. And, this time and place is not perfect as far as a dancer is concerned.

I have been working with a back injury for that past year.  I have had a history of back issues as I have blogged about in the past (see About the Back and How to Heal), but this one has been the same injury (on and off again-- but mostly on) for the past year.  Only recently, when I began a new mind body practice called CFR, have I started addressing the nature of my injury and the consequences of my habitual patterns.  It has been an eye opening journey.  

The cyclical history of my injury is such that I haven't created a dance for myself in a long time.  I create pieces for others, and I have created dances in which I also perform as part of the ensemble (often in a limited way), but I haven't created something just for myself in over a year.  And, primarily because of my back injury.  Every time I made an effort to create something or to "get back into shape," I would reinjure myself. This was the cycle.  So, I basically stopped making dances for me.  

This year to live has reminded me that I should not wait for "complete healing" or "getting back into fighting shape"  or "until I am able to recapture my lost technique."  I can't wait.  

The challenge is accepting the fact that this solo won't look like my former solos. It can't because my former solos in fact what lead me to injury (not them exactly but the former choices surrounding their creation).  Also, I won't look like I did in my former solos.  I have a different shape than I did before this sequence of injuries.  Those are the facts.  

The movement can't be the same. I am not the same.  Whatever ever types of movement and choreographic sequences I made before are basically out of the question now.  I can't wow people with my extension or leaps. I won't be able to roll and get up with speed or force.  I have to make different choices. I have to make the effort to break the injurious habits and form new patterns in my way of moving, in my way of working and most importantly in my way of thinking. 

I need to make a dance that will serve me now.  One I can perform now.  And, I have to trust that I can enjoy a dance created under these circumstances.  And, it can be worthy of being performed for an audience.  It is strangely scary. Like I am choreographing for the first time.  

But, this needs to be my birthday gift to myself.  Because in my Year to Live this is my last birthday, and it can't wait.  

Dancing on,


  1. (Scot again)
    I continue to eavesdrop and to make internal comments. The realization you came to here is why Merce Cunningham was able to perform at 82: he walked across the stage with a chair - not much more than that - yet he was captivating. This post also illuminates me as to the title choice of your recently performed work.
    In some ways I have to say I am sorry to have taken this "short cut to knowing you" by reading these blog entries, your published diary. In others ways, I'm glad I did and would like to share:
    While I have been more dancing than not for the last several years, I have to admit I have not bee n giving myself an artistic outlet (I've interjected in new works and helped create some interesting lifts/partnering that wouldn't have happened if strictly dictated from the choreographer, but that's not the same.) The last couple of weeks, however, I have had an urge to create. Two works in two weeks have sprung to mind, neither including me: the already-title-but-not-yet-created "Sounding Busy", and another office-inspired cross-generational number feature cigarette-girls-turned-computer-operators. (There's also a work I imagined for myself some time ago that I question my ability to bring to fruition on my body).
    Truth is, I want to make dance. I want to be more than someone else's pawn. The hard part is turning "want" into "do". Bravo on already overcoming that obstacle.

    1. Yes! Yes! Yes!

      Do! Do! Do!

      Create! Create! Create!

      I think this is the natural next step for dancers. Let's find some studio time together.


    2. Yes! Yes! Yes! Studio time with you will be a phenomenal treat! Let me know when you have time.