Part of the reason why I started writing on my own blog was because I felt like my life was a current voice in dance. In tune. Part of the stream. Now, I’m about to turn 29 in a few days and I’m seeing myself, and my peers, being placed into the past with each year. And that’s okay.
(Bear with me, I’ve just started listening to Lana Del Ray’s Lust for Life tonight… This might come out very floaty.)
Before this blog, I used to have a constant online outlet to write and post images and music. I’m from Myspace, Xanga, LJ. I used to freely put myself out there and express my second life outside of the clichés of school and regimes of ballet class. It was a kind of bliss I can’t explain to decades before or after that digital rush.
It was freedom coming at teenagers on so many levels. We could be anyone and say anything and think about everything. This gets messy now that I’ve become a freelancer and have professorship aspirations. My online life has to remain (mostly) grammatically correct and emotionally balanced. (Where would I be without my private Tumblr and IG tho?)
Each generation comes up with new outlets. New ways of staying visible, above the surface of daily life whether that includes the tedious life of tendus and pointe shoes or contractions and barefeet or saris and Navarasa. No matter what dance genre and generation you come from, you had an outlet just like we do today and will continue to create along the way. Social media is just the newest nowness.
The dance reviews I read from my elders are for the most part written by accomplished and esteemed veterans of dance history. They pretty much saw it all happen before their eyes. Tharp and YR, Mr. B and Robbins, and all their contemporaries in this expansive dance world. And they make it VERY clear to the following generations that us “kids” weren’t there. “I remember so and so in this role and that, performing before my eyes in this theater or that one before this major world event, before your time, before all this new STUFF.” And on and on…
But I keep thinking, why would you imply that the generations to follow are void of all substance and creativity on the sole basis of the artistic greatness of the past vs the present? Cause if we’re all real for a second, none of us will be part of the future. Those who follow all of us in time are the future.
Sure, like other people I adore my generation for MANY reasons. (Real talk though: video games, music videos, and pretty much all pop culture in the late ’90s and early ’00s were legit.) In the ballet context, I love that I grew up on baby faced Vishneva, elegant Svetlana, solid Gillian, and fierce Rojo. But what this generation has to offer–Boylston, Kochetkova, Misty, Whiteside, Watters, Precious, and so many more–is equally as exciting and viable. Masters of their own fate, flowing down the daily stream of today, not yesterday. Hashtags and all.
I like to put my frustrations with dance to paper/screen. It’s easier for me to write than talk in circles with choreographers, dancers, artistic staff, even outsiders. And if I write, I feel like part of the future. (I know this is a mutal experience with dancers of all kinds and artists everywhere too.) Even if no one reads this. Even if thousands of people read this. It doesn’t matter because I was once sitting here in an empty apartment in Woodside, listening to Lana Del Rey and watching really creative, really current dance videos–see below–late into the NY night on a full moon in August, days before my last year as a 20-something-year-old. Sharing a moment in time with my generation and the ones that came before, after, and all those to follow.
As Data said, “Every nanosecond in this continuum is a moment in history, once it has elapsed.” (But let’s face it, I also feel the Geordi-hype-train to be part of the unique CURRENT history happening now too. Oh, dualities…)
We’re sharing this art form in this current time. Let’s keep one another informed but also inspired to live their lives. I want to listen to your stories of the past, and I want to be part of your current memories. Selfishly, I would like to know what will inspire the future.
Woke NY moment: I saw Ashley Bouder today IRL. I was taken by surprise by how little I reacted though. She was a civilian, a rushed new mom and dance scholar seeking a fellowship just like me. She wasn’t this mystifying persona I’ve read about and seen online.
But I kept recalling my first image of her; Vogue, November 2001, in her Firebird costume and make-up standing stoically next to an equally as young, mystifying Carla Körbes.
They were once the future.
Now they are the present. And soon they will be past.
Like all of us. You and me.