The online studio is open! Take class via streaming video on any device.
For Study Guides, "Zeina" info, and other resources for students and teachers, click through to

Sunday, December 20, 2015

I Know You Will

Filmed October 25, 2015, at Triskelion's new theater in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Thank you to videographer Renée Renata Bergan. This piece was commissioned by/ presented as part of "She: Voices of Women, Heard and Unheard," a theatrical work from Dalia Carella and the Dalia Carella Dance Collective. The music is "Young and Beautiful," Lana Del Rey.

I have no idea what this dance objectively looks like. I don't know if it's a work in progress or if its done or if it's going to be stuffed in a closet never to be seen again. This is my second attempt at a genre I guess I am calling "postbellydance bellydance." (I know this very phrase is going to make someone out there squawk, "that's not belly dance!" Obviously, it is not Oriental dance, it is not raks sharki, it is not Middle Eastern dance.  But I think it kind of is belly dance, in the sense that "belly dance" is an umbrella term, because you are not going to find anyone else to claim it. If you ask anyone in the modern dance world no way will they see anything even vaguely of their own idiom in this piece.)  Putting this thing together was absurdly hard, because I had no template to work from: no set pool of vocabulary, no conventions of sequencing or interpretation; no constraints of style; no proven successes to imitate. I am not sure where, if anywhere, this piece can goes from here; finding another venue for it seems unlikely. Anyway, inasmuch as it works or doesn't work, please multiply your praise or qualify your criticism relative to the fact that I am really out on my own, finding my own way here.

A technical note:  I have nothing but gratitude for remastered music, but your enjoyment of this piece might be slightly heightened by the floor-thumping slap-whacks one would hear were one in the actual live audience. Be advised: rich, bassy, dull, sharp, and otherwise eminently satisfying whomps occurred at 1:18, 2:17, and 3:02. I really hurled my soft, tender, bruisable body into this real-time Foley, so please manifest appropriate sound effects in your imagination.

Also: in meatspace, there was glitter, there were sequins, and I sparkled. At least, I think I sparkled. I am not sparkling in this video, but I think there was real life sparkle.

Moving on. When I started working on this dance, I was in the seventh year of a continually difficult romantic relationship. I went into this project thinking that I was working on an autobiographical and bittersweet piece about anxiety and fragility and the mature adult fears of my mature adult self. In my head, I heard the song as “Will you still love me? I know you won't, I know you won't, I know you won't.” I know you don't.

By the time of the performance, that relationship had ended. The breakup engendered, and continues to engender, all kinds of anxiety and hurt and fear, and developing this particular dance during a breakup was, at times, variously awkward and painful. But then somewhere along the way I got sick of unremitting lugubriousness. Likewise, I got sick of focusing on the anxiety that provokes the question, “Will you still love me?” The dance hauled itself out from under my agenda of resentment, the despair and stagnation melted out, and I found that I was unaccountably working on a piece about resilience, trust, love, and love's triumph over fear.

What this dance turned into feels very much to me like a theatrical character piece. It's still personal, but the aspects of myself that I feel coming through are remnants of a younger woman. In character, I don't feel like my mature and pragmatic 2015 self. I feel more 1995. I feel giddy, inexperienced, bluntly imprecise, enthralled by the rush of riding a self-created emotional roller coaster. I don't mean it in a judgmental way, but I also feel foolish, although I feel a little more wise at the end. I'm not sure if it's visible or not, but I feel like there's an arc, about coming from childhood into the power of adult wisdom. The song itself ends on the question, “Will you still love me?” But the dance ends on a certainty: if your love for me is ephemeral or uncertain, then I'm relieved to be rid of your company, and the sooner the better. By the end of the song, both the character and I have had it with worrying over this fundamentally preposterous question. Will you still love me? OMG, [eyeroll] [whatevs] good grief, give me a break.
Will you still love me? Enough already! SAVE THE DRAMA FOR YOUR LLAMA.

I can't make my life be about running around in circles frantically chasing your approval. This is a fool's errand. Enough foolishness.

Love melts fear. Fear whispers to me that while men become more attractive mates as they grow older, women simply grow old. All that waits for me, fear whispers, is loneliness and loss. But when I shine out love, fear crumbles away.

So, back to the other certainty: I know you will. Back to the breathless excitement, not of manufactured drama, but of hot, passionate, romantic, true love. If my feet are in the path of offsweeepedness, for heaven's sake I am not getting them out of the way. Don't you get them out of the way either. Shine out love, and fear crumbles away.