A Dancer’s Dream and Dilemma
In preparation for an upcoming Celebration of Life ceremony to honor my former dance company choreographer Jennifer Muller, I recently had a rehearsal with a young dancer to teach her one of my solos from my time in the company.
To relearn the choreography, I used some handwritten notes , along with a video of a live performance at the Joyce Theater in 1988. To rehearse, I wore suede-soled dance shoes to protect my feet from splitting on the floor, a common modern-dance workplace hazard that I experienced back in the day. (We used tape for protection and healing when our callused feet split.) Over many repetitions of the movement, rewinding of the video and re-reading of the notes, I was able to remember and uncover the movement which needed some coaxing back into my present-day body. I hadn’t remembered that the solo had so many fast turns and I got super dizzy and needed to lie down on the floor to recover. I really hoped that it wouldn’t take too long to feel better.
I was worried that recovery from this dizziness might take longer than just a few minutes because years ago, while at a water park in Charleston, SC, I went down a spiral water slide just one time and then spent the rest of the afternoon recovering on a chaise lounge. In recent years, I also get queasy from swinging on a swing.
This must be part of getting older, which is on my mind because today is my 65th birthday!
My recovery didn’t take too long. I got up, got ready, and started rehearsal.
So to prevent another bout of dizziness during rehearsal, I came up with a plan. NO turning! To prevent myself from turning, I decided that I wouldn’t wear my dance shoes. I relied on the skin of my feet to let me know NOT to turn.
That didn’t work at all!
Teaching this little dance solo was a totally joyous throwback to my past. I taught the movement the only way I knew how, giving it my all. The wonder of sharing this choreography that was just freshly unearthed from my sinews and then helping to teach and imprint it on Anna Levy, a gorgeous young dancer erased all of the boundaries I had intended to keep. I was not only turning but turning fast, and with NO dizziness at all. But I glanced down and was surprised to see blood in that same old split on my foot. My feet didn’t and couldn’t stop me from doing what I love. I was having SO much fun and was fully invested and fulfilled by this experience, in spite of my foot!
Dance makes me happy and movement feels so good, like medicine, and I love to share it!
Several former dance company members are also planning a Studio Symposium to gather and connect about our shared experience of Jennifer Muller’s technique. We’re also hoping to help shape the legacy of the work and pass the torch.
I’m so grateful for the teachings that I’ve received and love honoring where I’ve come from. I feel inspired.
PS: My foot is already healed after a few days of keeping it covered with a bandaid.