It is coming up to a year since I started studying dance. Last night, coming home from class, I think I finally figured out why I like it so much. I understand that the umbrella term – The Arts- encompasses not just visual art; but dance; music; and performance. That knowledge, although logical, always felt disconnected from me physically and emotionally.
Understanding visual language, in its many forms, is second nature to me. Line, colour, texture, function, material, form, light, is a language that made sense to me before I knew it had words. Developing the skills to work with this vocabulary was never in question as my mind, manipulation of motor skills and vision were at home when engaged.
But dance was something other people did. A year ago I decided to take a pole dance class. I knew nearly nothing about it. I didn’t know anyone who did it. My first class was a fine balance between why –am- I -here –and- I –might- really- enjoy- this.
I did really enjoy it. It engaged me in a way that felt familiar. Unlike many other forms of dance, pole is a form of exercise akin to weight training, resistance, and gymnastics. The poses use one’s body weight, gravity, momentum, flexibility, agility, coordination, endurance and contortion to execute. Pole is a full body hybrid of poses, transitions and rhythm, which may or may not include fluid, off pole, floor work. Hella sexy or straight up fitness.
The ways in which I am able to draw a simple or complicated line using a range of tools, feels and looks like what my entire body does on the pole. Each fragment of my body, when aligned correctly, can create a line, in space, that I can manipulate in time. And to do this, I need to access the same parts of myself as I do when working visually. But the reason it feels so at home is because it removes the tool. I become the line. Technically not a line I can see, in real time, but feel.
The twerk and burlesque classes I take are similar- the lines just look different. Like a Pollock or Richter, they are deceptively difficult to execute. The ability to move isolated parts of one’s body at high speeds is anything but skill-less, child’s play.
I don’t speak, in detail, to many people about dance. I don’t discuss what spins I am working on. I’ve only ever taken one friend to a class with me. And that’s because she spends as much (free) time at her studio as I do at mine. The time I put into this practice is entirely mine. And it’s entirely for me. I don’t want to share it. I am greatly appreciative of my instructors and connections; the ways in which they’ve contributed to my experience is immeasurable. But ultimately the work is mine to do. The boundaries are mine to push. The results are mine to celebrate.
The grace, strength and beauty that come from this work have the ability to echo in so many other life facets. There is no grace and beauty if one is treating people poorly or consuming products that are ill designed to lack concern for their function or life span. But there is much strength in being more conscious in daily rituals, even if they are as simple are walking with better posture and purpose. It is these connections, between seemingly disparate things, that never cease to amaze me.
photo source; Pinterest / Milan Pole Dance Studio