from Alivia Schaffer
Mexico May/June 2011
i feel like i have been waiting for some grand feeling of enlightenment to flip on as a light switch post Juntos travels and the first half of summer packin on the pounds of change.
That i would have some revelation i would feel compelled to write about.
but it isn’t like that.
i don’t even know where to start.
my journey with dance has transformed from just that – a journey- to a partnership. i am no longer occupied in a career of dance, i am no longer studying dance. i am simply this witness to dance’s greatness, the power it has over me & my heart, as well as the heart of the universe.
always i have hated the politics, bullshit, “showbiz” qualities to the dance world. but my reasoning for hating all of that was just as selfish as those who were using the bullshit politics to “get up” in the dance world. “get up” for themselves.
people name drop companies, and schools, and famous dance names in a greedy intention of gathering, collecting, and possessing respect for themselves.
for. them. selves.
nothing to do with giving.
the dance world, in all of its humanistic flaws, has this urge to own dance.
i have this training. i had this teacher. i took this workshop. i have good technique. i have unique artistry. i want that job. i can get that job. i can get my leg up.
to have. to possess. to own. to want. to get.
to gather in for ones own self benefit.
dance was never anyone’s. dance isn’t anyone’s.
i hated the politics of the dance world because of how it effected me personally. because i was personally sensitive and hurt by the stereotype classifications not fitting in with the beautiful vehicle i have been blessed with.
i had hatred for the dance world because i could not possess enough of it.
i could not own enough of it without being their image of “perfect.” i wanted to own and possess it and be it and gather it, for my own personal benefit- to yield me with a good role in a ballet or a job after college.
as i traveled to mexico with juntos, i did make sense of what seemed like a topical direction “to give.” give all that you have in class, in the performance, in your life. and brainwashed by the dance world, it initially made sense in my head as trying your hardest, giving all your energy so the teachers will like you, youll get good roles, make connections, and benefit personally from giving your all.
i was so wrong.
this isn’t about finding a job after college. this isn’t about creating shapes regarding a certain technique. this isn’t about which stage mom’s daughter was closer to being accepted into juilliard, wore the prettiest tutu, or had the longest solo. this isn’t about the list on your resume. this isn’t about other people judging your skills and saying “that was great.” this isn’t about communicating judegment or approval. this isn’t about looking a certain way. this isn’t about wanting it more than the person next to you.
all i really want to know here is- what can you give? what can you share? what can you recieve?
stepping into that orphanage, i felt the frogs in my throat and chest grip back my tears. immediately filled with gratitude for everything i’ve possessed- or ignorantly thought i possessed. for everything i experienced. for how good i had and have it. with dance aside, my heart ached for these girls. as i mourn my father’s death, i crave his touch. the touch of the father figure. his voice. his mannerisms. his influence, his calm calm influence on my life.they never had that.
so here i am, whimpering that i miss him because he is gone, whilst some of the girls i taught never even met their fathers and might not ever meet them.
then i thought about how many petty times i bitched about not getting the parts i wanted at the studio i grew up in, again- this ignorant belief that i was entitled to dance. bitching about being an understudy.
these girls didn’t even have the option to take dance lessons.
so here i was, teaching them. giving them an outlet. a gift. a form of expression. i was giving them, i was clearing them a road to self discovery. a road to universal discovery.
i was opening all of the doors and windows in the house of their soul and letting the wind in, swirling around, creating momentum, inspiring movement.
opening flood gates. giving joy.
even if it wasn’t some deep soulful foreshadowing slef exploration experience for them-it put a smile on all of their faces.
even if just for a little while the placement of social class, material belongings, and maybe a less fortunate life style – were all forgotten. we were together, the girls and our group of dancers. we were sharing this moment of joy together.
and from here the saying to live in the moment/present earned itself a renewed understanding within me. i was, we were all, giving what we had to teach these girls in dance style as well as giving them a friend, a role model, a body of some fun and play- even if just for three days.
you could just feel like gratitude of that moment.
we were fortunate to learn from the girls brave optimism, to be sharing our training with the world, to build art, to make jokes and laugh with the girls.
they were life, little blossoming fields of life in each of them came out in the twinkle of their eyes and giggle in their smiles. they were little sponges taking in what we gave them.
and we all just really enjoyed feeling loved and appreciated by one another for even just a little while.
we weren’t just sharing dance. we were sharing each other.
we’re in this together.
we’re doing this, whatever this is, together.
we are with each other when we’re dying of laughter and dying of pain. because what the person next to you is going through is a reflection of yourself, because we are each other. we are parts of everyone, together, this is shared. we cannot be greedy and try to hoard aspects of life to ourselves. this is my life. no no, this is our life. we are connected if not by the webs extending out past the ends of our finger tips, then by our hearts.
after a year of grief and mourning the death of my father, my heart was not yet healed as i still had the mind set of ‘my isolated experience.’ even in recent recent blogs i talk about how this is an independent experience. “this is MY experience,” as if i have some right to claim experience itself. to claim something so shared as only mine. to blind myself to the surrounding other people in this experience.
not that im saying now after all that time- “oh yeah i guess people were supportive.”
because they weren’t.
they weren’t supportive.
they just were.
they were there gathering their own information, or not, giving off me information to take in, to learn from. we are all little building blocks sitting intertwined and on top of each other, eventually to reach some sort of divinity or enlightenment. but they key component here is that we cannot do it without each other. we cannot do this alone. we are together.
the trip for me was not a big eye opener to another world, or some grand ball lightbulb of revelation. it was a much, much needed quiet opening to people around me, the same people who are in me as parts of me. with the synchronicity in the timing in also finding a fitting man to enjoy and share my life with, my life transitions from a closed isolated experience of grief to the fulfilling density of a universally shared heart.
and we will put the lonesome on the shelf.