Certain smells elicit a flood of memories and summer seems to hold an inordinate share of these olfactory remembrances. Heat is most likely a contributing factor and this month I am noticing smells that are potent and even piquant, provoking recollections of time spent in and out of the dance studio. Along with the plethora of street smells, that can be harsh and even unpleasant, our proximity to the ocean is a reminder of an ever-shifting aromatic mix with base notes of baking bread, a hint of Thai spices, vanilla, wet dog, tobacco and beer; this perfumic mélange is like yeast, ever-changing, and a lively metaphor for expanding within self.
For those that enter a dance studio to rehearse or take class, sweat is often the first odor of notice. I like to think that sweat is mixed with the heightened probability of creativity. Then there are the less obvious qualities of these working rooms, the expectation one has of being called upon to perform at an audition, a class, or rehearsal, the teacher or director prompting you to do better, show more of what you are made of. Can we smell anxiety, expectation and fear? And does love of the moments that dance provides have a smell? I like to think so.
Continuing references to the whiff of remembrance, there are even smells associated with specific moments in a day and of certain dance practices: the heady perfume of incense that is alight during some Bharatanatyam or Yoga classes; the strong aroma of coffee that is present during early morning class or late nights in the theater; ointments applied on skin, like Tiger Balm, that can provoke swoons; even the powdery fragrance of rosin that is ubiquitous to Ballet studios draws vivid pictures inside my nostrils. Do you have a favorite or evocative association to a smell?
Since we print this publication on newsprint, which is certainly smellable, In Dance has a scented association. No, we have not developed a scent-o-rama in this issue, yet be assured there are a variety of reasons to open the pages and explore dance as reflected here.
The annual Planetary Dance, a world-wide event is celebrating its 30th anniversary took root on Mt Tamalpais, and will once again compel a multi-generational community to dance for peace in their own communities and with the Earth. A simple objective? It is certainly one that Anna Halprin and the many organizers continue to ask everyone to commit to. If you have never experienced a planetary dance, you will have your chance on June 6th.
We continue last month’s community theme with the aforementioned Planetary Dance and with two articles by long-time Dancers’ Group staff members, Jorge De Hoyos and Evangel King. Both mine the territory of how community influences an artistic trajectory. And if you have ever struggled with describing your dance life—and who hasn’t—Jen Hoff’s article will bring those palpably awkward moments to the present. Dare I say, you can almost smell them?
Happy reading, dancing and smelling. May your summer be luscious.
This article appeared in the June 2010 issue of In Dance.