this semester, for the first and last time ever, i am in macalester’s fall dance concert. in the past i’ve only performed in shows put on by student organizations, which means that they lacked the same legitimacy (aka departmental funding and support) afforded to dance concerts and other performances. i mean, let’s be real here; the stage of the theater and dance department is a whole different scene from MGO stage (aka a raised platform at the south end of the dining hall in the campus center). and anyone can tell you that middle aged white american women are not the ones in charge of the Macalester International Organization’s cultural show, or the Asian Pacific Awareness month variety show.
so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that preparation for the dance concert has been a bit of a mindfuck, especially considering that i’m working with a style that is completely different from anything i’ve ever done. being a part of this piece has meant having to shift gears in thinking about performance. it has also required that i learn how to interpret my experiences and translate them into movement.
in the past, dancing has been more of an external, celebratory activity. by this i mean that it has been about visibility and community-building and figuring out how to navigate a space with other bodies and then doing it with gusto. sometimes it has been about testing physical limits. this time around, these elements are complicated by processes of engaging with our past selves. the choreography is real and raw. this isn’t about strength or difficulty or entertainment value. it’s been about turning mirrors on ourselves and creating movement out of what’s reflected. except instead of regular mirrors i’m using funhouse mirrors that make me look like i’m standing underwater.
on top of that, we haven’t yet incorporated music or sound in the piece, so i can’t help feeling like i’m trapped in my own head, trying to be moved by silence.
so i freeze up, i laugh nervously, and the closer we get to the date of the performance, the deeper i sink into paralysis.