A reflection by Jo Bolden on what it means to ‘love’ dance
When I ask dancers (from beginner to advanced, and teachers and choreographers too) why they dance, the answer “because I love it” usually shows up. Often. This is fantastic but ‘loving it’ isn’t enough on it’s own to be a dancer.
We all began to dance for different reasons. Some of us because our parents noticed us bouncing round the house as toddlers and some of us cried every lesson as little ones when our parents left us to socialise and learn to be a part of a group. Some started late (like me) and some the minute after being born!
When you started doesn’t matter (unless you decide it does). Why you started doesn’t matter either (same, same). At some point you realise that in order to KEEP GOING there has to be a greater reason than that your parents drop you off each day or that it has become routine (aka you’re turning up out of habit more than anything else). Dance takes work, doing what we do – dance, teach and choreograph –EVEN IF you love it.
Most dance creatives I’ve met chose to pursue dance because they carry a love for it. They can’t quite describe what it feels like when the music plays, why it’s magic to watch a killer combo or how you can be lost AND found in some moments. But they feel it and it’s written all over their faces as they try to wrap words around it. Somewhere along the way you start to light up. In class, in rehearsal, and onstage. Something shifts and you realise you’ve fallen in love with this thing called dance. I did.
What I’ve realised about loving it is that this is just the beginning. Loving it (and saying that you do) isn’t enough. Loving dance comes with tough choices that SHOW that you love it. You can’t choose once in your life to be a dancer and expect that to carry you through the long rehearsals, gruelling technical training, preparation and disappointing auditions. You have to CHOOSE to remember that you love it right through all of these and CHOOSE to participate in the growing part (that’s those long rehearsals guys!). Sometimes love looks a lot like working through, going over and being patient. You can’t just turn up for the best bits. Not if you really love it.
Pretty much like parents who choose to love you as you go through your interesting teen highlights (and attitude) and you love your best friend even when they wear their cranky pants – loving dance means showing up for all of it. This is walking the walk not just talking the talk. This is also how it loves you back.
When you’re in the middle of a day-long technical rehearsal and part of you wants to tune out or eat something. When you’re asked to run the routine again (for the 400th time!! is what you probably think). Remember that you love it; Dance that is. Remember that you chose this and choose it again NOW.
The lightness creeps back in and all that you have learned in past long rehearsals, gruelling technical training (and more) shows up to carry you to another whole level of EXPRESSING that love to an audience that can actually FEEL it. Your vocabulary grew because you loved your way through it, so you put in the time and now you can share it. And that feels so good.
[Images from https://www.facebook.com/jo.bolden.50]