Dancing has been in my life since I was 14 as I babysat my way into my first modern dance classes while I lived near Paris. I was lucky to have great teachers such as Laurette Fouquet and Joseph Russillo. I soon entered a modern dance company and performed in a style which gave room for my improvisation. I was taught that movement was a free expression of my inner self, even when I was following forms.
When I moved to California in 1981, I immediately joined 24th St dance studio in the Mission district in San Francisco. I and some friends worked the front desk, hung out with the teachers, spent days at the studio, took three or four classes each day; it was a whole lifestyle. We all studied with Alonzo King, Luis Gonzalez, Leslie Watanabe; we were all bonded with the same passion for movement, forms, rhythms, creations.
Alonzo went on to a fabulous career, Luis passed away from AIDS, Leslie moved, friends went away. When I went on to study bodywork then somatic psychology there was dance again with Authentic Movement. Studying with Tina Stromsted, I discovered the subtleties of inner listening and the emergence of impulses.
When I met Rosa Montoya few years later, I went diving head first into Flamenco. The passion for this fire in the belly was intoxicating. The wildness, the rawness, the grace; the stage; it was an all encompassing whirlpool. It “had” me, completely. Yet, after some years of that immersion and unable to pursue a full “company life” and the daily rehearsals it required with my busy family and work life, I stopped. Just like that.
Last weekend, after many years of knowing of her and her post modern dance experiments, I went to spend a weekend with Anna Halprin. It was like coming home. Home to myself, my movements, the ongoing creation of what emerges at each instant. We walked, we followed each other, we moved our self portrait with sounds, we looked at trees and the light through the branches and brought them in our compositions. We became one with Nature and with each other. We laughed and cried. We played and danced wildly. We saw one another in what is most vulnerable; the emergence of a movement, of grace made visible, of life itself carrying our bodies into states of trance and rapture. When Anna walked through the two lines the group formed on the deck, I was not sure if to smile or weep in the presence of such embodied creation.
Today, I feel again in my bones and flesh the dancer in me who never left, who is in an ongoing discovery of herself and of what movement can become. Like a meandering life’s pathway, dancing has shaped my life in ways that fill me with wonderment. It keeps being the one creation that keeps on lifting me through the many aspects of my existence, of my emotions.
I want to ask everyone; what is YOUR passion? What is true to you? What would you wake up at night for? What is your creative voice ? What sustains you through life like a eternal link to your soul?
The artist is in all of us. It is in what we do with full heart and complete surrender. It is what happens when we just let the creative force express itself through us, one step, one paintbrush, one sound at a time.