loss

I’ve started doing dance technique classes again. This is the first time I’ve done classes regularly since about about 2002. It is also the first time I’ve learned Limón technique.

My doing classes is all part of a system that Erica Stanton has implemented at Roehampton Dance whereby two teachers experience each other’s work, and in so doing are able to build on that work. For example, Erica is teaching Limón classes to (final year) undergrad students, and I am simply participating in these classes. I don’t really add anything from a teaching perspective, but I do gather a lot of insight into how the students work, and how they are experiencing these materials. It’s revealing (inevitably), and I get to experience first hand how they are coping with the materials, what is clear, what isn’t, and how each of the students is approaching the work.

After 7 weeks, I start teaching the class – but I’ll be working with improvisation strategies – and Erica becomes the dancer with the students. My teaching improvisation is an important part of Erica’s plan – that each of the practitioners involved in teaching these ‘shared’ classes develops ideas and exercises that respond to their current interests/practice.

But this is not what this post is about.

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In just under ten years since I was last doing daily class, I’ve done a lot of dancing, a lot of running (and a lot of cooking), but I have also turned 40 and this body is not the same as it was as a 33 year old. In the first of Erica’s classes, I was worried about ‘subjecting myself’ to the physical movements ‘prescribed’ by another, but this didn’t prove to be such a concern. What was difficult was, first of all, the concern that I’d no longer be able to pick up materials/exercises as I used to be able to. Second, and more frightening, was my experience of loss: mobility, strength, facility, and my capacity to actually get my body to particular locations in space on time. I know this is a common experience for dancers as they age, but not doing daily class for so long had hidden this gradual loss, and my gentle confrontation with Erica’s Limón class provided plenty of evidence.

Like seeing an friend for the first time in a long time. We both know we are different, but we say things like “you haven’t changed a bit”. Well, I have changed and this decay is not easy.

Image courtesy of Boriana Pandova
Performance of Bagryana Popov’s “He is not here”, Sofia, January 2011

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4 Replies to “loss”

  1. We know from T.S Eliot that .. "each ventureIs a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulateWith shabby equipment always deteriorating" (East Coker, 172-180).But, I feel a strong kinaesthetic and emotional empathy for Simon’s experiences, as I suffered my own ‘somatic nostalgia’ during the Lim??n Summer School this year. The vacillation between melancholy – " I used to be able to do this!" and surprise – "Hey! This still works!" There was that inevitable tension between the dancing in my memory and the ‘real’ dancing in the present time!As I watch Simon in class, I see an artist involved in a rich practice. Relocating, remembering and finding the information he needs to apply to the class material. He does this with patience and humour and needless to say, he is a huge asset to the other participants in the class. Where Simon perceives his decay, I see grace, energy, economy and a persuasive presence; a big heart and a big mover! Simon is a natural exponent of the humanity of the Lim??n philisophy of fate vs freewill. Bring on another decade!

  2. As a footnote. This morning I sprained my ankle in Erica’s class. Never sprained an ankle in a dance class (although ‘done them’ both lots of times playing football, basketball, tennis, volleyball …)

  3. Loss is a powerful feeling. I can understand that feeling as occasionally I have the same urge of willing my duff knees, painful neck and creaky hips to carry me into dancing the way they used to, but they don’t (or not without about an hour’s warm up beforehand). Think of being over 40 as an opportunity: you may have lossed (in your opinion) a bit of pace, flexibility, strength and precision, but what can you now bring to your dancing that you could not have brought so well 15 years ago? So what if you’ve lost that pace? What about other things that make up dancing? Erica’s perception of you dancing describes someone with so much to offer. Value who you are, your experience and what your body can do now. Enjoy the classes.

  4. Finally looked you up. Ya know , the American college gal from 1993. Great to see your success and the change you’ve made to our tiny universe. Good luck in all. And tell your mum I’m sorry for being such a puritanical American moron. That may have been a bit much. Anyway, all things good. Yeah?

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