Dance is a journey

Dance is a journey

My technique teacher from last week, Ami Shulman, brought up a beautiful quotation from a Jewish proverb: she said, “You are closer to your destination on your journey to get there than when you actually arrive.”  At the end of three summers, if all goes as planned, I will arrive with a degree in hand, but what I actually need, and still need, was/is the journey itself.
From a day hike at Oberursel, outside Frankfurt. 
I am attending graduate school for many reasons (Read more here). Now that I am done with part one of the program, I realized why I really came to graduate school: in so many ways I have been so stuck in my dancing–uninspired, frustrated with the dance world in NYC, basically frustrated with my own limitations and the limitations around me, and I needed tools to get me out of the rut—tools to find create my own voice in flamenco.
I can’t even begin to go into all the things (and things is a terrible word to use) I have learned, but one of the most important “things” is remembering that dance is a journey and a process, and not being stuck in doing what I am used to doing and is easy. I’ve learned to take risks and that my body is capable of more than I think.  

My cohort and our fearless leader, Jeffery!
A colleague shared the following quote that addresses what’s been on my mind: “Michael Vernon, chair of the ballet department at Indiana University, feels the worst thing a dancer can do ‘is to get fixed into doing something a certain way, being safe. I love young dancers who understand that you have to dance for tomorrow, and not yesterday.” Keeping an open mind means more than just trying a different preparation for a pirouette. “Being open to new styles of dance and new ways of moving the body is vital to keeping the art relevant.’” (http://www.dancemagazine.com/news/The_Seven_Deadly_Sins/).
Dance is research—of our own bodies and minds. It’s not a repetition of something we saw, but a way of understanding the mind/body connection, of understanding our own body, and of understanding a myriad of other ideas, especially our relationship to others and the world.
I have been reminded over and over this summer that we never really arrive, and the moment you stop learning you’ve basically lost. I had not stopped learning, but I needed new ways to approach movement to help me find my voice in dance. And the journey continues.
I dread answering the inevitable, “How was your summer? What did you learn?” I have no idea how to answer that question—it was great, emotional, challenging, frustrating, mind-blowing, and so much more, and there is no way to share what I learned through words or in just a few sentences, especially since so much of it is sensorial and relating to my own body.

As one graduating student said, when you get back your work will speak for you. I won’t be approaching teaching or performing the same way, even if it looks similar on the outside, my internal perspectives have changed. And I am excited to bring back everything I have learned and start applying it.
I’m still working on growing my carrot, or making my ‘Carrot Dance’ 😛
2018-01-11T21:02:27+00:00

About the Author:

Alice Blumenfeld is a flamenco dancer, choreographer, writer, and educator. She holds a MFA in dance from Hollins University and currently directs Abrepaso Flamenco.

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