I nearly forgot I was a dancer. But I tell photography students that it’s best to make pictures with one’s feet, physically participating in the constant change that constitutes this moment; I say that a so-called “zen photographer” may look more like a dancer than like a stone statue. I say all that and I practice it some of the time, but I had forgotten where in my life it had come from. Certainly not from a book!
I forgot until this weekend when I met with the ancient people who had been my Wesleyan classmates in Martha Myers‘ Connecticut College experimental modern dance class. Several of them had continued on to become professional dancers, a couple even forming their own companies, another was a diplomat, another a mediator, a singer-songwriter, a business-woman, an architect, and one became a photographer. It was easy to pick up where we had left off decades ago, we were trained by Martha in how to be playful, spontaneous, sensitive, and responsive.
Martha’s body has begun to lose its sense of balance, she’s physically fragile, but her mind is agile.
She asked us to engage in several exercises -”keep going in a straight line until you have to turn” – each an invitation to spontaneous interaction, each with a natural lifespan, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, then the energy turned formulaic or repetitive and died away. She said that’s how it is with all energy, all relationships, that the energy comes and goes and comes and goes like the tide. She implied that we’re happier when we recognize this pattern, stop fighting it, and just let it happen.