Over dinner with my best friend Danelia, who is an outdoor educator and leader, I expressed a desire to leave San Francisco for some ‘nature therapy.’ I shared things like: ‘I want to experience nature again,’ and ‘I’m tired of waking up in San Francisco.’
In the natural world there is no excess. No noise or stimuli of a city that can numb the mind, body and soul. Growing up in San Francisco, nature shocks my senses and reawakens me to tackle the challenges of everyday city-life. Danelia understood this as a call to reconnect with myself – a form of checking in.
Danelia proceeded to ask: ‘When was the last time you slowed down and asked yourself: ‘what am I doing for myself?’ ‘What rituals do you have to support your emotional and physical needs?’
Danelia reconnects with herself by dropping everything, leaving the city for the dirt, trees that hug you back, and air that breathes life back into your body. For me, in addition to regular escapes from urban life, dance is my opportunity to reconnect with mind, body and soul. I take great interest in exploring the unique worlds of artists such as those featured in this month’s In Dance, entering and reflecting on the worlds these artists create.
Thoughts twirl on ideas of breaking free of the body to arrive at an authentic human experience and Maurya Kerr’s SPEAK points out how she is “decreasingly interested in steps and the virtuosity of the physical. While dance still requires a body, I [Maurya] long for it to not preside or impress. Give me the virtuosity of intimacy, nuance, presence, and affect.” It’s these impactful moments in dance that reveal limitations, but also the ability to transcend.
Another experience is embodied in the many women Sima Belmar interviewed for her ongoing In Practice column. The body is a powerful vessel and navigates various changes, especially the dancing pregnant body. In this case, the process might be perceived as a continuous disconnection and reconnection with one’s body but what then emerges is a genuine reality: “And so, pregnant dancing invites us to let go of mastery and focus on practice in the present—this is my body now, it moves this way, I will tend to it, and let it teach me what it knows.” In other words, remain a student, eager to listen, learn and practice.
Similarly, Luna Dance Institute and their program for dance- teaching artists also motivate investigations of process. Jochelle Pereña’s Create, Reflect, Advocate, Repeat, shares professional learning as a career path that “can be exciting and challenging and rewarding, and also a little daunting to approach…because we may be reminded of what we don’t know.”
Consider the relationship with bodies in space and how this relates with location. AXIS Dance Company is working with site artist Stephan Koplowitz for a performance set in the Yerba Buena Gardens in July. In his process of working with site and physically integrated dancers, Koplowitz sums up his adventure as “exciting to discover something outside of my own experience.” There’s excitement in entering a world other than your own, in this instance, experiencing art that happens outside.
As for me, a trip into nature with Danelia is still in the works, but for now I’ve received all the therapy I need as this In Dance has taken me someplace, else.
Now, it’s your turn.