Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Early experiences of Dance

One of the reasons why music is the artery that runs throughout humanity is because it is in our souls and dna. Since we have to have it to survive, thankfully it is ubiquitous. I look back as far as I remember, all the way back to being a toddler, and realize this is soooo true. I remember moving and grooving all the way back to Feb 14, 1969, when I danced around the house in my Valentines panties! Although I can't remember the specific music, I know that I felt free and joyful in those moments. Another experience I recall later on occured in my second grade class. I had a aware and cool teacher who routinely played music for us and let us dance any way our bodies wished. The music was pop and didn't have alot of drum rythms, but I was clearly trying to find a beat. I bounced up and down and shook my head, which almost looked punk rock, like I was doing the pogo. This amused my classmates and they laughed at the radical way I was expressing myself. Something was missing and I was attempting to fill in the void, though I wasn't aware of this at the time. I was responding to modern percussion instead of deep rooted earth rhythms. I remember this particular teacher had a very different energy about her and was unique because she recognized the deeply rooted human need to dance. Sometime that year I look tap. I was pretty bored with it. It was too structured and was focused on the feet mostly, and the hips had to stay stationary. I remember not feeling very excited about going to my recital. I guess there wasn't enough freedome of movement. That same year, my best friend and I were in her room and she played records and to her amazement I danced and she looked at me strangely and said "Don't Dance." She had a warning look in her eye. I didn't understand it at the time, but now looking back, she must have been influenced by the overly judgemental religious fever of the deep south that forbade dancing! I remember the movie "Footloose" coming out a few years later and totally related to it. I was always a heathen in the respect that I continued to dance on anyway, whether it was at the school dance, in my room at home, or while riding in the car. I also remember having slumber parties in the '80's about the time Flashdance came out and my friends and I swore up and down we would all move to NY and do the modern dance thing. We stretched, did cartwheels, and wore our leg warmers along with the dancing in our basements. This was much better than the school dances because we could move anyway we wanted. About the same time aerobic dance and jazzercise was on the scene and gym class consisted of this but not as free, of course. I still dance all the time, whether I am alone at home, or in the car, or out somewhere experiencing live music. I am definitely the one you will see on the road jamming in the car, especially bobbing my head. I also have an invisible drum set and air guitar available for use. I will also tone it down to a sutle groove using my core (dantien) to generate a subtle movement of the hips and shoulders, where no one can tell I am dancing on the road!!!

I think of Mama Africa as a Continent, as one whole. There are different countries within the continent, of course. When I think of Africa, I think of the diversity of the creatures and the many terrains. I see beautiful prides of lions, antelopes, bison, primates of all sorts, Gorillas in th mist, trees with leopards eating their prey, huge vultures, etc. I see many glorious colors of costumes, gorgeous women and men wearing elaborate dress. I see many and varied masks representing spiritual entities and animals. There are different types of drums, with unique tones, voices , and sizes. I see Pygmies, Bushmen, and Modern Man alike. I think I should visit sometime.

3 comments:

Andrea said...

Laura, I LOVE how you're describing your relationship to dance and music. I can just SEE you in these legwarmers! :-) Goodness, I even had them myself, and a sweatband around head and wrist to complete the 80s look ...

Lachlan said...

HI Laura! I loved Jazzercize :) I was already taking some jazz dance lessons and a friend of mine convinced me to also do Jazzercize since it was near our highschool and we had such a blast with it for a couple of years...

On the one hand with the formal jazz lessons, I had to really think and control my body motions and on the other hand with Jazzercise, I could just let loose; and with my personality, dancing both ways was perfect.

Enjoyed your post about dance ;)
Best, Lachlan

Noelle said...

Hi Laura - It's funny how age makes us more aware of our senses and how/what people think about us as individuals. You must have been a hoot as a child dancing around..I see this through your descriptions. I remember dancing a lot as a younster as well. I loved it. When I feel insecure about dancing now, I think of Elaine on Seinfeld...if she can do it, anyone can! Enjoyed your post. Take care, Noelle