All the Way to the Edge
This week, Boston Ballet hosts its first-ever Choreographic Intensive in Marblehead, MA. Student Leah Hirsch has been blogging daily from the Intensive for Pointe. Read Leah's first entries here, here, here and here, and stay tuned for more!
Helen Pickett recently told us, "You must go to the edges of your physicality"--to a place where ridiculousness is commendable and falling is applauded. And my ballet teacher often said that to be truly beautiful, you must first feel ugly. To reach into the unknown pushes you to an unrecognizable, quite often uncomfortable physical place. Yes, we must all have structure within our dancing, but that structure must be flexible. It is our minds, not our bodies, that limit us.
Coming into this choreographic program, I was anxious about performing steps that seemed obscure or silly. But over these past few days, I have found that I'm only truly satisfied after pushing my body to its fullest. No step is awkward unless a dancer makes it so. Losing sight of your surroundings provides a release. Yes, as my teacher stated, you might first feel ugly, but that will quickly subside. That "alien" place will soon become a safe haven.
As Friday is right around the corner, I'm beginning to reflect on my time here in Marblehead. Each contemporary phrase we have learned with Thaddeus Davis or Ms. Pickett stresses constant movement. There is never enough. They've taught us to reach beyond what our bodies perceive as correct or appropriate. What characteristics exemplify a professional dancer? Not just her ability to be as willowy as Giselle or as sweet as the Sugar Plum Fairy, but also her skill in articulating the movement of a sneaker-clad stomper in Twyla Tharp's In The Upper Room. As contemporary choreography continues to seep into the ballet community, dancers can't be single-minded. They must learn to be multi-faceted.