In my uninspiring Creative Writing class today, I heard something that did inspire me! We were talking about poetry and how the importance of writing about one instance, one moment, one focus pretty much makes the entire poem a poem. To which I then translated this idea into the dance world: one focus in class or rehearsals is better than focus on everything.
I know this may be blasphemous to many teachers and coaches in dance, especially ballet, but let’s think for a moment on how a poem is like dance. We say it all the time- dance is poetry in motion- but do we really think about that phrase and the links between poetry and dance?
Poems have a flow and a rhythm from the words written which is all summoned by a situation or occurrence the writer has created. The feeling follows once the reader knows what is happening or not happening. In dance class we tendu or contract or shuffle or beat endlessly for years. All of these movements are our feeling, our rhythm which we can sprinkle with personality.
But we should have a single focus and design, one moving poem, when in class or rehearsals versus having thousand of poems going on at once. Purify yourself by highlighting something for your own attention and your teachers/coaches/audience to grasp onto. Maybe it is only the tendu or contraction or shuffle or beating that you look at with expressed devotion.
To pile the entire class/rehearsal period of moments over ourselves is not making our dancing time poetic. We can become exhausted, frantic, and clumsy with too much on our minds. This is not to say that everything we learn should be thrown out the window unless it is relevant to that one focus of the day. No, don’t become so literal and limiting as that!
The idea I propose to dancers who want to become poetic is to present a particular movement with their all encompassing attention; detail the detail. Be more attentive to the ONE, not the everything of dance classes/rehearsals. Then our movements can become, or start to become, a poem. It is a process that will never end since as dancers we must keep moving, much like being a poet is a life long challenge since poets must keep living life.