Look Alive

29 December 2010

I Hope You Dance!

On the heels of last night's Kennedy Center Honors including dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones, my godmother and some of her friends went to see FELA! on Broadway today. My displeasure with being absent from the production includes the power combo of the Afrobeat king's musical story, Miss Patti (LaBelle)'s voice and director Jones' poetry-in-motion was subdued by the humble pleasure of having seen and met the latter on a few occasions courtesy of a mutual collaborator. I glorify none other than the Lord, but the high definition of his physical body, precise inability to miss a beat even while suited and smoking for the stage as well as some of his signature, joint-focused moves' way to evoke the emancipation of marionettes is awe-inspiring, especially all these years after his principal days.

Thriving on rhythm and soul-full movement as Life does, the artform and quickly-change-your-whole-outfit-where-you-stand-if-need-be-before-returning-to-your-place-revealing-nothing-but-no-one-is-so-immature-uptight-or-surface-flesh-focused-to-care-should-an-elbow-be-exposed-in-the-process-anyway culture of dance has always appealed to my senses and sensibility. I'd be lying to profess advanced knowledge of all its pioneers and formal techniques, however. Chalk that up to chubby childhood ballet days that rather welcomed switching to the force of modern and tap the way they better welcomed my frame as well as increasing expenses overall.

Farther along the road, an afternoon whim to treat myself to something nice would indelibly bless my heart with Ailey's "Revelations". Applying that gravitas to the flattened back & foot flexing of African classes [yes, the course catalog descriptions were usually that generic] not only tempered my eligibility for financial aid in undergrad, but made the occasional solo whirl through Lower East Side Jump'N'Funk parties kind of a big deal. Don't get me wrong; we're not talking about some attention-seeking debauchery deal here. My partners felt, looked and spoke like they were having fun too, but my joy was in the universal drum and finally being allowed out to move to it! The party was just about over when adventurously answering an open call for an Urban Bush Women audition showed me that sipping herbal tea in NYC was probably the closest I'd come to being part of that number. Certainly, I hadn't trained and dedicated my life in dance's direction purely enough to deserve or expect any of the above honors. An appreciated privilege eventually became an earned source of fitness and fun. That's all. Now if I could just find those abs...

One of the films I'd alluded to and seen recently was Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. The psychological thriller intermingles themes of light (as portrayed by Natalie Portman's "Nina") and dark (ala Mila Kunis' "Lily") within the arena of professional ballet. Nina seemed insulated from the wild world and what could be described as her mother's bipolar tendencies by innocence and a mechanically perfectionist approach to technique. Pursuing the role of a lifetime as Swan Queen, her nurtured naivete was challenged by company owner Vincent Cassel ("Thomas" of the silent but deafening ssssss) and the edgy, effortless company dancer Lily. Once Nina was appointed the role -- on basic merit, the promise that adaptability added to her work ethic would yield greater worth and merely asking -- harsh rumors swirled amidst the rest of the company, leading the two dancers to forge an unlikely but quick friendship. They were pink and black. Blank canvas and tats. Want to and did that... together. Once Nina's apparent inability to animate the dark side of the Swan Queen's dual role threatened her dream's success, a struggle between unwavering integrity and initiative ensued; within herself and/or with an arguably suspicious Lily. Things Nina wouldn't conceive of before such as illicit drugs and sex, she soon bore (the brunt of, in the form of near misses and severe confusion to put it mildly).

Although the movie teaches that the extremes of one's passion must be explored in order to achieve one's goal, the Word teaches that we should train with the fiery discipline of athletes for the greatest prize of godliness within. Dance is a great vehicle for that energy, as it represents what we do between Life's stations and situations! It responds to victory in battle or acts as a rebellious precursor to demise. It has its own rightful time or signals another's untimely end. Most importantly, dance is for praise, the genuine practice of which will tone the belly, arms, legs and help the heart too. Needless to say, none of us are promised tomorrow. Today, under Grace, we can bear the Most High's Loving law inside with sound minds as we turn, step and leap by faith away from the past into "2011" and beyond. Let us consider healthy goals for ourselves, allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts on the matter(s) and study the Word for guidance as to the Lord's unique answers for our lives. Of what is truly approved, let's go forth with that praise, get what is ordained as ours, keep it sacred and cooperatively share it only per God's will, to His glory!

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