As I worked on an amazing paper for my Dance History and Contemporary Views class – which, for the record, I am only auditing since I got an A in my more historically focused dance history course back in 2012, I was brought to my 2012-2014 dance journal.
I am a big believer in dance journals. I don’t like writing in regular journals. I’m getting my BA in English, I’m working on novel number 2 (for which I have 160,000 words of material…that’s like two whole novels, guys), and I don’t want to have to come home and write about my day. A life journal is too daunting. There’s so much to think about: school, family, dance, boys…the weather…money…
But I do always have a dance journal, and I try to write in it at least a few times a month. I always make sure to write immediately after performances, during intensives, after shows, just so that I don’t forget what my concerns are and what little triumphs I’ve had. I write about what’s giving me trouble, and what little moments of hope I have. I write about how my body feels and how my brain feels, and I take down imagery that I found useful from class. It’s very useful.
My ADF journal from 2014 is particularly fleshed out. There were a few days toward the end when my knee kept…like, twerking. So, while I had been writing at least twice a week for the duration of my east coast dance adventure, I had a few days worth of notes where I was able to take down notes and quotations right as my teacher said them, because I was sitting at the back of class, watching and writing.
Jesse Zaritt’s Gaga/contemporary class changed my life and my outlook on dance and movement in general. As I read through my notes, I am flooded with the memory of being in that not-airconditioned, humid-as-hell, 100 degree room. We all sweat through everything, so I usually wore leggings lest I slip in my knee sweat during the floor work. You quickly got used to being involved in everyone’s sweat experience.
So, in this sweaty, sweaty room, with no mirrors and fans that just blew more hot air on us, Zaritt would yell at us, in an impassioned voice over the live music coming from the front corner.
CREATE A NEW SET OF HABITS THAT MAKE A MORE VIVID EXPERIENCE
Stop just doing what you’re used to doing when you dance and when you improv. Stop being comfortable. Allow your brain to create new pathways, new habits.
CAUTION AGAINST KNOWING WHAT IT LOOKS OR FEELS LIKE BEFORE YOU DO IT
Unlike the majority of our training, stop trying to make a shape. Stop trying to feel like a dainty fairy feather. Allow yourself to experience something new while you’re moving.
I HAVE ACCESS TO MY WEIGHT, AND I CAN MAKE CHOICES ABOUT AVAILABLE EFFORT
This reminds me of what Michael Schumacher said this summer about allowing your body to be weighted, and that the weight accomplishes the movement. Oddly enough, Zaritt often works with Mark Haim, who is good friends with Schumacher.
MY BODY CAN NEGOTIATE THE COMPLEXITY OF TIME AND SPACE AND HISTORY. WHAT THE FUCK DO I WANT TO DO ABOUT THAT?
As dancers, we are so crazy talented or skilled or whatever! To move through the dimensions, to spatially reason when and how to travel or give power to our limbs, to forget about what we were or are and just be in time and space. Isn’t all that negotiation, which takes place unconsciously, pretty fucking crazy? Bodies are amazing!
I WANT TO HAVE A VIVID RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WORLD THROUGH MY BODY
This has become the thesis of my life. There’s a lot more to it and behind it, and I’ll explore more Gaga quotes in other posts, but I can’t not include this Zaritt quotation.
This is how I want to live my life. I want to experience the world through the physicality of dance. I want to move through various textures and across various surfaces and through atmospheres that I don’t know or understand. I want to feel things because my body and my brain allow me to. This can be simple as walking to the co-op on a crisp fall day or having an existential experience in a Gaga class. Dance is so powerful, and if we let ourselves stop trying so hard to be something, we open the door to new experiences and possibilities.