Notes on Practice: Halting, Tentative Steps

February 22, 2014 - Meghan LeBorious

I have less to write this week. My practice is correct but it doesn’t narrate as well as usual. As I wrote in the last post, I badly pulled a muscle in my upper right leg, and as a result declined to attend the last day of Tammy Burstein’s Light and Shadow workshop. The leg no longer hurts, but I have been trying to avoid placing full weight on it, or moving too deeply in the hip. It seems impossible that it could be better so quickly, and I am fearful that I could re-injure it.

I was torn about whether or not I should attend class on Friday night, given the injury. A gallerist friend has all of her gallery’s openings on Friday nights; and I was tempted to go to her opening instead of dance this one time. In the end, I did decide to go to Tammy’sFriday Night Waves class at the Joffrey Ballet—the class I attend nearly every Friday.

I entered, chose a nice little piece of floor to uncoil myself in, and found movement easily. I kept the injured leg softly straight as I stretched and warmed up on the floor. Once I got to my feet, I moved with halting, tentative steps—almost tiptoeing—as I traveled around the room. Even this halting, hesitant dance was not without specificity and engaged my interest. As restrained as I was, I was able to access each of the rhythms.

I wished I had worn some visible sign of my injury, such as an ace bandage or perhaps a shirt with handwritten black sharpie that said, “leg injury.” I was almost embarrassed by my lack of vigor, but at once felt cheerful and engaged in the dance I could do. For the most part, I avoided taking long steps, making any sharp turns (as this requires some depth in the hips), any sort of leaping or hopping, high or spinning kicks, squatting gestures and kneeling. I also avoided sudden changes of gravity as rising and falling, coming to the edge of my balance, sudden stops, sudden bursts and merengue-style back steps. This still left a lot of possible ways to move, but I did feel sad I couldn’t meet people the way I wanted to, especially new friends who I connected with during the Light and Shadow workshop the previous weekend.

A couple of times during Chaos, I forgot myself. There is no doubt that I could have danced the whole night with my usual intensity and paid the price later, but I had given myself a firm talking-to before arrival. I caught myself quickly, recalling that I needed to keep my feet on the ground and to take it easy if I wanted to get over the injury. I smiled the whole night, engaging cheerfully, but wishing for more.

I would like to say that I found a whole new way of moving, or that I broke through the armor of vanity and ego, or that I had a great psychological insight, but I didn’t. Not this time. I was, at least, happy that I could dance and moderate myself, and that I did not just fling myself over a cliff in wild abandon.

I had some thoughts on Chaos since I had less access to Chaos last night, as well. To me, it sometimes feels like that a big, energetic Chaos may be perceived as a lack of restraint or awareness—a moral deficiency, even. Perhaps it is just that, or perhaps my perception is not accurate.

At any rate, I have been thinking of a routine by the comedian Chris Rock, in which he talks about how privileged our picky American eating habits are. “You don’t hear about lactose intolerance in Rwanda!” he bellows. He goes on to say that you don’t hear about people in developing countries who don’t eat red meat for health reasons. “Don’t eat any GREEN meat, that’s what you have to think about!” He concludes this part of his routine by saying, “if you happen to be one of the few people in the world lucky enough to get your hands on a steak, bite the shit out of it!”

Chaos is my steak. I am lucky to have it. I love it, I sink my teeth into it, I devour it. When I don’t have access to it, it is ok, life goes on, but when I do, I don’t want to go simpering along about how I really should cut down on red meat.

Normally, I am drenched with sweat after dance, but last night I ended nearly dry. I left after the first wave, made it home a little early, and slept peacefully.

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